Paul Keetch

Paul Keetch
Member of Parliament
for Hereford
In office
2 May 1997  12 April 2010
Preceded by Sir Colin Shepherd
Succeeded by Jesse Norman
(Hereford and South Herefordshire)
Personal details
Born (1961-05-21) 21 May 1961
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrats
Spouse(s) Claire Elizabeth Baker,
1991–2011 (divorced)
Children One son
Alma mater Hereford Sixth Form College
Occupation Lobbyist

Paul Stuart Keetch (born 21 May 1961, Hereford) is a former Liberal Democrat politician who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hereford from 1997 to 2010.

Early life

He went to Hereford High School for Boys (now Aylestone Business and Enterprise College), followed by Hereford Sixth Form College. Keetch joined the Liberal Party while still at school, and chaired the Hereford Young Liberals and the West Midlands Region Young Liberals, as well as being the election agent for the Liberals in Hereford in 1983. He was elected to Hereford City Council in 1983 at the age of 21, making him the then-youngest city councillor in the UK, and served two years before resigning to move to London. His first jobs were in banking and financial services, before moving to the water hygiene industry and Franklin Hodge self-assembly water tanks. He moved to London for Hodge in 1985, but soon left to become a self-employed public affairs consultant.[1] Since 1996, he has been a non-executive director of the London Computer Company.

Political career

Keetch was selected as Lib Dem candidate for Hereford in 1994 and was elected to be the city's MP at the 1997 general election. He was a junior Liberal Democrat spokesman for Foreign Affairs from 1999–2001, a frontbench spokesman on Defence from October 1999 until the May 2005 general election, and a junior party Whip until 2010.

In July 2005, Keetch succeeded Sharon Bowles MEP as Chair of the Liberal International British Group. He also sat on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. He founded the Cider All-Party Parliamentary Group.[2]

Keetch had comfortably captured his traditionally-marginal seat by 6,648 votes when he gained it from the Conservatives in 1997, but his majority dropped to 968 votes when he was re-elected in 2001, and when he won a third term in 2005 it was by 962 votes. Keetch announced in December 2006 that he would step down at the 2010 general election.[3] In 2007 the Liberal Democrats selected Sarah Carr as their candidate for the revised Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency at the 2010 general election,[4] but the Lib Dems lost the seat by 2,481 votes.[5]

On 7 March 2015 Keetch became the first senior Liberal Democrat to announce he will be campaigning to leave the European Union in 23 June EU referendum.[6]

Expenses and rule breaches

In 2008, the Daily Telegraph noted that Keetch "never knowingly underspent", and it mocked his "expense-fuelled forays to John Lewis", including "such indispensable items as a cheese grater, three large bottle stoppers and a white pudding basin."[7] During the 2009 United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal, the Hereford Times noted that in the past year he had claimed £142,385, including £87,000 on staffing costs (part of which would have gone to his wife, who worked for him),[8][9] and £23,351.74 in second home allowances (the maximum permitted at the time).[10] Keetch missed 9 out of 10 parliamentary votes on MPs' expenses.[11] The Daily Telegraph recorded that his "mortgage jumped from £145,000 to £300,000 when he sold a flat in Stockwell in London last year and moved around the corner. The new flat was furnished with a sofa-bed costing £690 and a wardrobe at £624."[12]

In March 2010, a BBC investigation showed that Keetch had breached House of Commons rules relating to declaring outside interests. In 2005, he twice visited Gibraltar, firstly paid for by the Liberal Party of Gibraltar and secondly paid for by the Gibraltar government, yet when he asked two parliamentary questions and signed three Early Day Motions relating to Gibraltar, he failed to declare either of these interests. Similarly, he visited Korea in 2006 paid for by the government, but failed to declare this when he subsequently signed an Early Day Motion on Korea.[13]

Personal life

He married Claire Elizabeth Baker on 21 December 1991 and together they have one son. She worked for her husband as a constituency case worker.[14][15][16] They are now divorced.

On 8 July 2007 he was taken seriously ill whilst travelling to the United States on a flight. The pilot turned the aeroplane back to London and he was admitted to London Chest Hospital.[17] Doctors eventually diagnosed him with idiopathic ventricular fibrillation and fitted an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.[18]

On 13 November 2009, The Sun printed front-page photos of the married MP kissing the estranged wife of SAS soldier and author Cameron Spence.[19][20] Keetch later released a statement which did not seek to deny the affair.[21]

Keetch was a founding partner of political analyst company Wellington Street Partners Ltd[22] in May 2011. He resigned on 31 March 2013.


  1. Tudor Griffiths, "Paul Keetch", in Duncan Brack (ed.), Dictionary of Liberal Biography (Politico's, London,1998), pp.209–10
  3. Official site – Keetch to stand down at the next election retrieved 24 December 2006
  4. Morris, Ian (2 April 2007). "Liberals choose Keetch's replacement". Hereford Times. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  5. "Hereford &Herefordshire South results, 2010 general election". BBC News. May 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  7. Pierce, Andrew (15 March 2008). "MPs never knowingly underspent". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  8. "MPexpenses: Who employs family members". Daily Telegraph. 3 July 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  9. "Married Lib Dem MP who "dared to sin" with war hero's wife faces SAS wrath". Daily Mail. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  10. Tanner, Bill (16 June 2009). "Paul Keetch claims more than £140,000 in expenses". Hereford Times. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  11. – Paul Keetch compared to "Transparency of Parliament"
  12. "MPs' expenses: Full list of Lib Dem MPs investigated by the Telegraph". Daily Telegraph. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  13. "Paul Keetch MP: Foreign trips and rule breaches". BBC News. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  14. "MPexpenses: Who employs family members". Daily Telegraph. 3 July 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  15. "Married Lib Dem MP who "dared to sin" with warhero's wife faces SAS wrath". Daily Mail. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  16. "MP Paul Keetch's 'affair' with SAS officer's wife". The Sun. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  17. Staff writer (10 July 2007). "MP still recovering in hospital". BBC News Online. Retrieved 10 July 2007.
  18. Morris, Ian (23 July 2007). "Paul Keetch returns home to Hereford". Hereford Times Internet Edition. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  19. "Randy MP's undercover manoeuvres with SAS legend's wife". The Sun. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  20. "Married Lib Dem MP who "dared to sin" with warhero's wife faces SAS wrath". Daily Mail. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  21. "Keetch grins because wife and regiment he betrayed can't get at him". The Sun. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  22. Keetch Wellington Street Partners website accessed 19 July 2012.
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