Hugo Swire

The Right Honourable
Sir Hugo Swire
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
4 September 2012  15 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Jeremy Browne
Succeeded by Alan Duncan
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
12 May 2010  4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Paul Goggins
Succeeded by Mike Penning
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
8 December 2005  2 July 2007
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Theresa May
Succeeded by Jeremy Hunt
Shadow Minister for the Olympics
In office
8 December 2005  2 July 2007
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Jeremy Hunt
Member of Parliament
for East Devon
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Peter Emery
Majority 9,114 (17.2%)
Personal details
Born (1959-11-30) 30 November 1959
London, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Sasha Nott (1996–present)
Children 2
Alma mater University of St Andrews
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Religion Anglicanism
Website Official website

Sir Hugo George William Swire, KCMG, MP (born 30 November 1959) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Devon since 2001. He was a Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In his job, he had responsibility towards India, the Far East, Latin America and the Falklands, as well as Australasia.[1]

Early life and education

Swire was born on 30 November 1959. His great-great-great-grandfather, John Swire (b. 1793), was the founder of the Liverpool textile trading business that later became the Swire Group, the multi-billion USD conglomerate based in Hong Kong.

Swire was educated at St. Aubyns School, a preparatory school in Rottingdean, East Sussex, United Kingdom and at Eton College, an all-boys public school in Eton, Berkshire. He studied at the University of St Andrews before going to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.


Before going into politics, Swire served in the Grenadier Guards.

He was a financial consultant. He later became Head of Development for the National Gallery, then Director of the auction house Sotheby's directly before his election from 1996.[2]

Swire was non-executive chairman of Photo-Me International[3] prior to joining the Government.

Member of Parliament

He contested Greenock & Inverclyde in 1997, finishing fourth. In 2001 he won the seat of East Devon. Two years after his election to Parliament, he became an Opposition whip. In 2004, he was promoted to become Shadow Culture Minister. He joined the Shadow Cabinet on 8 December 2005, when new leader David Cameron appointed him Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Swire opens the 12th UK-Japan Politico-Military Talks in 2013.

Swire was sacked in the July 2007 Conservative re-shuffle for suggesting his party would scrap free museum entry.[4][5][6] Swire returned to the backbenches and amongst other roles became Hon. Secretary of the Conservative Middle East Council.

In May 2010 he was appointed Minister of State for Northern Ireland in the newly elected Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron.[7]

In October 2011, Swire, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, boycotted a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly held at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, as the hotel had been the scene of the 1984 IRA attack on the Conservative party leadership.[8]

In December 2011, Swire criticised a government agency, the Rural Payments Agency, based at Clyst St Mary in his East Devon constituency, for allegedly banning Christmas decorations from their offices.[9]

On 6 September 2013, Swire sent letters to the South China Morning Post and Ming Pao, commenting on the universal suffrage of Hong Kong SAR, emphasising the importance of democracy. Moreover, he added that he would provide any support towards the establishment of universal suffrage in Hong Kong.[10] In January 2015, Hong Kong’s leaders caused diplomatic ‘outrage’ after declining to meet him to discuss political reform. Swire believed the Chinese government feared it would cause pro democracy unrest though the purpose of the visit was also to support trade.[11]

Fund raising events

Given his former role at Sotheby's, Swire is often invited to be the auctioneer at Tory fund raising events.[5] He came in for criticism in 2015 when a Channel 4 Dispatches program showed him making a joke about benefit claimants. As auctioneer at the ‘black and white’ fundraising ball in February 2015 Swire had tried to raise the bidding to £60,000 before telling a potential bidder that if he was on benefits, he could at least afford £55,000. Other Tory donors included Lycamobile, a telecommunications firm much criticised for avoiding UK Corporation tax who bid £200,000 for a statue of Margaret Thatcher.[12]

Personal life

Swire married Alexandra (Sasha) Nott, the daughter of Sir John Nott (former Conservative Secretary of State for Defence during the Falklands War) in December 1996 in Kensington. The couple have two daughters (born May 1997 and August 2001). His brothers-in-law include Julian Nott.


  1. "The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  2. "Hugo Swire". BBC. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  3. "Hugo Swire MP clicks as new head of Photo-Me". London: Daily Telegraph. 13 July 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  4. "Shadow Cabinet: Who's Who". BBC. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  5. 1 2 Jones, George; Carlin, Brendan (29 June 2007). "Etonians face axe in shadow Cabinet shake-up". London: BBC. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  6. "We'll let museums charge admission again, say Tories". London: BBC. 17 June 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  7. Archived 17 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Satherley, Jessica (25 October 2011). "Ministers boycott Irish summit". Daily Mail. London.
  9. Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (22 December 2011). "Scrooge civil service bosses ban Christmas decorations". Daily Mail. London.
  10. "英大臣指隨時支援港人爭取真普選 ("British minister refers to supporting Hong Kong at any time for true universal suffrage")". Sharp Daily. 14 September 2013.
  11. Bryan Harris and Danny Lee (25 January 2015). "British diplomats fuming over Hong Kong's snub of Hugo Swire". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  12. Rajeev Syal (23 March 2015). "Tory minister filmed making benefits claimants joke in Channel 4 sting". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hugo Swire.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Emery
Member of Parliament
for East Devon

Political offices
Preceded by
Theresa May
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Jeremy Hunt
New office Shadow Minister for the Olympics
Preceded by
Jeremy Browne
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Alan Duncan
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