Peter Hain

The Right Honourable
The Lord Hain
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
In office
11 May 2010  15 May 2012
Leader Harriet Harman (Acting)
Ed Miliband
Preceded by Cheryl Gillan
Succeeded by Owen Smith
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
5 June 2009  11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Paul Murphy
Succeeded by Cheryl Gillan
In office
24 October 2002  24 January 2008
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded by Paul Murphy
Succeeded by Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
28 June 2007  24 January 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by John Hutton
Succeeded by James Purnell
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
6 May 2005  27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Paul Murphy
Succeeded by Shaun Woodward
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
11 June 2003  6 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by John Reid
Succeeded by Geoff Hoon
Lord Privy Seal
In office
13 June 2003  6 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by The Lord Williams of Mostyn
Succeeded by Geoff Hoon
Minister of State for Europe
In office
11 June 2001  24 October 2002
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Keith Vaz
Succeeded by Denis MacShane
Minister of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
In office
28 July 1999  24 January 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Geoff Hoon
Succeeded by Brian Wilson
Member of Parliament
for Neath
In office
4 April 1991  30 March 2015
Preceded by Donald Coleman
Succeeded by Christina Rees
Personal details
Born Peter Gerald Hain
(1950-02-16) 16 February 1950
Nairobi, British Kenya
Political party Liberal (Before 1977)
Labour (1977–present)
Alma mater University of London
University of Sussex

Peter Gerald Hain, Baron Hain, PC (born 16 February 1950) is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Neath between 1991 and 2015, and served in the Cabinets of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He was the Leader of the House of Commons from 2003 to 2005 and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2005 to 2007 under Blair, and as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales from 2007 to 2008 under Brown. In 2007, he ran for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party, coming fifth out of six candidates, although his failure to declare donations during this contest led to his resignation in 2008. He later returned to the Cabinet from 2009 to 2010 as Welsh Secretary, before becoming Shadow Welsh Secretary in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet from 2010 until 2012, when he announced his retirement from front-line politics.[1] In 2014 he announced he would stand down as the MP for Neath at the 2015 general election.[2] He was nominated for a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours.[3] Writing in the Guardian, he subsequently outlined his views on House of Lords reform.[4] He came to the UK from South Africa as a teenager, and was a noted anti-apartheid campaigner in the 1970s. He was also Honorary Vice-President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.[5]

Early life

Hain was born in Nairobi in the then Kenya Colony, but moved to the Union of South Africa about a year later. His parents, Walter Vannet Hain and Adelaine Hain née Stocks, were anti-apartheid activists in the Liberal Party of South Africa, for which they were made "banned persons", briefly imprisoned, and prevented from working.[6] Hain's paternal grandparents, civil engineer Walter Vannet Hain of Dundee, and Mary Hain née Gavin of Glasgow, married in 1919, leaving Shettleston, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 17 September 1920 on the "Edinburgh Castle" with their new-born baby William Ayers Vannet Hain, sailing from Southampton to South Africa. Hain's father, later to become an architect, was born on 29 December 1924 there. Hain's maternal grandparents were of notable 1820 Settler British South African stock. His 4th great-grandfather was George Southey (1776–1831) who hailed from Devonshire, England. Hain descends from his daughter, Sophia Stirk née Southey, whose brother George was famous for helping to track the Xhosa tribal chief Hintsa kaKhawuta (ca. 1790 – 1835), pursuing him through the defiles of the Fish River bush, when Colonel, afterwards Sir Harry Smith was engaged in his capture, and who, at a critical moment, when the chief had already thrown his assegai at Colonel Smith, and would certainly have killed him, shot him dead through the back of his head, despite his pleas for mercy. Southey then mutilated the body. A brother of Sophia and George Southey was Sir Richard Southey a British colonial administrator, cabinet minister and landowner in South Africa. Hain is a fifth cousin six times removed of the Poet Laureate Robert Southey.

When Hain was 10, he was awoken in the early hours by police officers searching his bedroom for 'incriminating documents'. At 15, Hain spoke at the funeral of John Frederick Harris, an anti-apartheid activist who was hanged for murder for the bombing of the Johannesburg main railway station, injuring 23 people and killing an elderly woman, Mrs Ethyl Rhys. Mrs Rhys's grand daughter suffered severe burns. As a result of security police harassment, Hain's father was unable to continue his work as an architect, and the family decided to leave for the United Kingdom in 1966.[7]

Life in London

Hain was educated at Pretoria Boys High School and at Emanuel School, the latter of which eventually becoming a private fee-paying institution, then Queen Mary College (University of London), graduating with a first class Bachelor's degree in Economics and Political Science in 1973,[8] and the University of Sussex, obtaining an MPhil.[9] After university, Hain worked as a researcher for the Union of Communication Workers, rising to become their head of research.


Hain became chairman of the Stop The Seventy Tour campaign which disrupted tours by the South African rugby union and cricket teams in 1969 and 1970. In 1971 director John Goldschmidt produced a film for Granada's World in Action programme featuring Peter Hain debating Apartheid in South Africa at the Oxford Union. The film was transmitted on the ITV network. In 1972 Hain was convicted of criminal conspiracy in a trial at the Old Bailey and fined £200.[10]

In 1972 he was sent a letter bomb that failed to explode because of faulty wiring. In 1976 Hain was tried for, and acquitted of, a 1974 bank robbery, allegedly having been framed by the South African Bureau of State Security (BOSS).[11][12][13]

Joining the Liberal and Labour Parties

He joined the Liberal Party and was elected chairperson and then president of the Young Liberals, but in 1977 switched to Labour. The same year, he was a founder of the Anti-Nazi League and he remains a prominent supporter of Unite Against Fascism today.

Member of Parliament

He contested Putney in the 1983 and 1987 general elections but was defeated on both occasions by Conservative David Mellor.[14][15]

He was elected to the House of Commons at the by-election in April 1991 for the Neath constituency that followed the death of the sitting member, Donald Coleman. In 1995 he became a Labour whip and in 1996 became a shadow employment minister.[16]

In government

After Labour's victory in the 1997 general election he joined the government, first at the Welsh Office 1997–1999, then as minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1999–2001.[16]

In November 1999, as Africa minister he entertained Robert Mugabe in London who told him "I know you are not one of them, Peter; you are one of us,"[17] But the following day, following an attempt by Gay Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to carry out a 'citizen's arrest' on Mugabe, Mugabe accused Hain of being Tatchell's "wife".[18] In October 2000 he set up a war avoidance team to carry messages back and forth between himself and the then-Minister of Foreign Affairs in Iraq, Tariq Aziz (a matter then confidential, which has since been put on public record in an interview with Hain by the Today programme). Team members who travelled repeatedly to Iraq on behalf of Hain variously included William Morris, Burhan Chalabi (an Iraqi-born British businessman), and Nasser al-Khalifa (the then-Qatari Ambassador to the UK). He voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, later calling it a "fringe issue".[19]

Peter Hain during his time in office

In 2001 Hain moved briefly to the Department of Trade and Industry before returning to the Foreign Office as Minister for Europe,[16] being sworn of the Privy Council the same year.[20] He was vocal in advocating joint sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain[21] and was accused of deliberately misrepresenting the situation.[22] The agreement was described by Michael Ancram in the UK Parliament,[23] along with Gibraltar as a 'sell-out'[24][25] which was overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum in November 2002. He remains one of the most unpopular politicians ever to visit Gibraltar.[26]

In October 2002, he joined the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales, but continued to represent the UK at the Convention on the Future of Europe. In June 2003 he was made Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal in a cabinet reshuffle, but retained the Wales portfolio. In November 2004 Hain caused controversy among his political rivals when he claimed that "If we are tough on crime and on terrorism, as Labour is, then I think Britain will be safer under Labour".[27]

On 6 May 2005, following the 2005 general election, Hain was appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, retaining his Welsh position also. Although previously a supporter of Irish unity, he has since retreated from this position. On 28 June 2007, he was appointed as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in addition to retaining responsibility for Wales. He was a proponent of the "tough love" measures designed to force claimants, including the sick and disabled, back to work. He saw it as an anti-poverty, full-employment agenda. He resigned from his post when the issue of donations made to his campaign funds were referred to the police.[28]

He set a level of compensation for the taxpayer funded Financial Assistance Scheme similar to that of the Industry funded Pension Protection Fund (PPF) for those whose schemes had collapses before the establishment of the PPF. Referring to the long running Pensions Action Group campaign and speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Moneybox program on the day compensation was announced, pensions expert Ros Altmann, credited Hain and Mike O'Brien with "having been very different to deal with than their predecessors and..willing and eager to engage and find a way to sort this out."[29]

Deputy leadership bid

On 12 September 2006, he announced his candidacy for the position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. In January 2007, Hain gave an interview to the New Statesman in which he made his pitch for the Deputy Leadership and referred to the Bush administration as "the most right-wing American administration, if not ever, then in living memory" and argued that "the neo-con agenda for America has been rejected by the people and I hope that will be the case for the future".[30] Hain was eliminated in the second round of the Deputy Leadership election, coming fifth out of the six candidates, with Harriet Harman being the successful candidate.[31]

Resignation following Labour party deputy leadership donations scandal

In January 2008, The Guardian reported that Hain had failed to declare some 20 donations worth a total of over £100,000 during his deputy leadership campaign and would be investigated by the Electoral Commission.[32] Hain admitted "deeply regrettable administrative failings" but faced questioning on whether the oversight was due to changes in campaign manager possibly causing "chaos" during the campaign or the desire of some donors to remain private.[32] Phil Taylor, the first campaign manager, said that Hain insisted on knowing who had donated and that it was legal. His campaign only reported a separate £82,000 of donations and the Guardian believes he stopped taking a personal interest in funding once the campaign ended though there was no evidence that he deliberately broke the law.[32] Isaac Kaye, who had previously paid the National Party in South Africa, also made a payment to the campaign for Labour Deputy Leadership.

Hain during Labour Party conference 2009

Taylor's successor was Steve Morgan,[32] and it later emerged that four donations were channelled through a non-operating think tank, the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) which may be connected with Morgan, who was named as a donor.[33] On 12 January, Peter Hain released a statement saying that he wanted to get on with his job and it was absurd to think he had deliberately hidden anything.[34] John Underwood, a trustee of the PPF, said that the donations and loans were "entirely permissible", though Hain said he would pay back a £25,000 interest-free loan.[34]

On 24 January 2008, he resigned from several posts including his position as Work and Pensions secretary, after the Electoral Commission referred the failure to report donations to Metropolitan Police. He cited a desire to "clear his name" as the reason for his resignation. Peter Hain was the first person to resign from Gordon Brown's cabinet. He was replaced as Secretary of State for Wales by Paul Murphy, and as Secretary for Work and Pensions by James Purnell in a forced cabinet reshuffle.[35]

Hain's campaign failed to declare £103,156 of donations, contrary to electoral law.[36] On 3 July 2008, the Metropolitan Police announced that they had referred Peter Hain's case to the Crown Prosecution Service.[37] On 5 December 2008 the CPS announced that Hain would not be charged because Hain did not control the members' association Hain4Labour that funded his campaign.[38][39]

AV referendum

He was a supporter of the unsuccessful Alternative Vote system in the May 2011 referendum,[40] together with his close friend and fellow ex-Young Liberal Richard Burden MP.

Attempted prosecution for contempt of court

On 27 March 2012, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, John Larkin QC obtained leave from Lord Justice Higgins to bring proceedings against Hain and "Biteback Publishing" for contempt of court.[41] Although Hain's book Outside In had already been passed by the Cabinet Office and the Northern Ireland Office prior to publication,[42] the alleged contempt related to statements about Lord Justice Girvan's disposal of an application for judicial review while Hain was Secretary of State.[42][43]

Hain's remarks had previously been strongly criticised by the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Sir Declan Morgan though the decision to charge Hain with "scandalising the court", using a law already obsolete in 1899 drew ridicule in Westminster and strong criticism from senior DUP ministers.[44] According to the Attorney General, Hain's statements prejudiced the administration of justice and amounted to an unjustifiable attack on the judiciary.[45] At a preliminary hearing before a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice on 24 April 2012, Hain's counsel suggested that the action had no basis in common law and was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The trial was intended to take place on 19 June 2012[46][47] but the case was dropped on 17 May 2012 after Hain agreed to clarify comments to show he didn't question Girvan's motives or his handling of the judicial review.[48]

House of Lords

Hain was created a life peer taking the title Baron Hain, of Neath in the County of West Glamorgan on 22 October 2015.[49]

Styles of address

Business interests

The renewed campaign for construction of the Severn Barrage by Hafren Power was led by Hain in 2012,[50] until Hafren Power wound up in 2014.[51][52]

On 28 October 2015, Hain was appointed to the Board of AIM listed vertically integrated fertiliser company, African Potash, as Non-Executive Director.

Alternative medicine

He is a member of the Advisory Council for the College of Medicine,[53] an alternative medicine lobbying organisation set up following the disbanding of Charles, Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health in the wake of a fraud investigation. Describing its mission as "to take forward the vision of HRH the Prince of Wales" and originally called "The College of Integrated Health,"[54] several commentators, writing in The Guardian, The British Medical Journal and in the blogosphere, claim that this organisation is simply a re-branding of the controversial Foundation.[55][56] It continues to act as an alternative medicine lobby group.[54][57] The College has been referred to as "Hamlet without the Prince."[57]

Personal life

Hain lives in Resolven in the Neath Valley. He married his first wife Patricia Western in 1975, and they have two sons. In June 2003, he married his second wife, executive recruitment consultant Elizabeth Haywood, in Neath Register Office.[58]



  1. "Peter Hain quits: Ex-Wales and Northern Ireland secretary leaves shadow cabinet". BBC News. 14 May 2012. Archived from the original on 14 May 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  2. "Hain to stand down in 2015". PoliticsHome. Archived from the original on 13 June 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  3. "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  4. "Radical reform of the House of Lords is vital – that's why I'm glad to be a member | Peter Hain". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
  5. Robert Booth and Helen Pidd (26 February 2014). "Lobbying by paedophile campaign revealed". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014.
  6. Moss, Stephen (15 February 2007). "We did what we had to. We couldn't walk away". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
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  8. "The Complete University Guide – Queen Mary, University of London". Retrieved 8 May 2015.
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  12. "Has Hain's activist past helped save his job?". The First Post. 14 January 2008. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012.
  13. "Young Liberal leader cleared of robbery". BBC. 9 April 1976. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
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  15. "UK General Election results June 1987". Richard Kimber's Political Science Resource. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
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  24. Wilkinson, Isambard (26 July 2002). "Gibraltar to hold poll on British 'sell-out'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 December 2011.
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  40. Batty, David. "Put aside contempt for Nick Clegg in AV referendum, says Peter Hain". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
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  49. The London Gazette: no. 61393. p. 21142. 28 October 2015.
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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Donald Coleman
Member of Parliament
for Neath

Succeeded by
Christina Rees
Political offices
Preceded by
Keith Vaz
Minister of State for Europe
Succeeded by
Denis MacShane
Preceded by
Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Shaun Woodward
Preceded by
John Reid
Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Geoff Hoon
Preceded by
The Lord Williams of Mostyn
Lord Privy Seal
Preceded by
John Hutton
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by
James Purnell
Preceded by
Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Cheryl Gillan
Preceded by
Cheryl Gillan
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Owen Smith
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