Richard Needham

For the Canadian columnist, see Richard J. Needham.
For other people with the same name, see Needham (disambiguation).

Richard Francis Needham, 6th Earl of Kilmorey, PC (born 29 January 1942), usually known as Sir Richard Needham, is a British Conservative politician. A Member of Parliament from 1979 to 1997, he served as Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 1985 and 1992 and as Minister of State for Trade between 1992 and 1995.

Background and education

Needham is the son of Patrick Needham, 5th Earl of Kilmorey, and Helen Bridget Faudel-Phillips, daughter of Sir Lionel Fandel-Phillips, 3rd Baronet. He was educated at Eton.[1]

Political career

Needham was a member of the Somerset County Council between 1967 and 1974.[1] In 1974, he stood unsuccessfully for parliament for the safe Labour seat of Pontefract and Castleford in the February general election, and was then also defeated at the more marginal Gravesend in October. He succeeded his father to the earldom in 1977. This is an Irish peerage and did not bar him from sitting in the House of Commons. At the 1979 general election, he was returned as Member of Parliament for Chippenham in Wiltshire. He was one of the "Wiltshire Wets", Conservative MPs from the county who expressed concern at the perceived loss of jobs resulting from the "monetarist" policies of Margaret Thatcher. His constituency was abolished for the 1983 general election, when he was returned to the House of Commons for the new North Wiltshire constituency. He held the seat until he retired from Parliament at the 1997 general election.[1]

In Government

Needham was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior, between 1983 and 1984, and to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Patrick Jenkin, between 1984 and 1985. He served under Thatcher and later John Major as a Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 1985 and 1992 and under Major as Minister of State for Trade between 1992 and 1995,[1] and was instrumental in transforming Northern Ireland's economic base and the UK's export strategy under Michael Heseltine. He was the longest serving British government Northern Ireland minister.


Kamel Alzarka and the Falcon Group welcomed Sir Richard Needham to the 3rd Annual Trade and Corporate Finance Forum in London

Needham has written two books: Honourable Member and Battling for Peace: Northern Ireland's Longest-Serving British Minister (1999); an account of his years in Northern Ireland and his contribution to peace.[1]


He is an Honourary Doctor of laws for the University of Ulster, a founder member of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, and was appointed Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1994 and knighted in 1997.[2]

Personal life

Needham married Sigrid Thiessen-Gairdner, daughter of Ernst Thiessen, in 1965. They have three children:

Although Needham inherited the Earldom of Kilmorey and Viscountcy of Newry and Mourne on the death of his father in 1977, he did not petition the House of Lords to formally claim succession until October 2012.[3] The Needham estate, known as Mourne Park, is near Kilkeel in County Down in Northern Ireland but the title and estate were separated when the fifth Earl inherited the title but opted to live in England. The Needham estate or Mourne Park is now owned by the Anley family, descendants of the 4th Earl of Kilmorey.[4] The house was badly damaged by fire on 18 May 2013.[5]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "- Person Page 7212".
  2. "Richard Needham". London Speaker Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  3. "Minutes of Proceedings, 18 October 2012". House of Lords Order Paper. 19 October 2012.
  4. PRONI Introduction Kilmorey Papers November 2007
  5. "Gallery: Mourne House fire 'a sad day for heritage'".
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Daniel Awdry
Member of Parliament for Chippenham
1979 1983
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire
1983 1997
Succeeded by
James Gray
Political offices
Preceded by
Nicholas Scott
Chris Patten
The Lord Lyell
Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
with Nicholas Scott 1985–1986
The Lord Lyell 1985–1989
Peter Viggers 1986–1989
Brian Mawhinney 1986–1990
Peter Bottomley 1989–1990
The Lord Skelmersdale 1990
Jeremy Hanley 1990–1992

Succeeded by
Jeremy Hanley
The Earl of Arran
Preceded by
Tim Sainsbury
Minister of State for Trade
Succeeded by
Anthony Nelson
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Francis Needham
Earl of Kilmorey
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