Joan Ryan

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Joan Ryan
Official portrait of Joan Ryan crop 2.jpg
Change UK Business Manager and Spokesperson for International Development
In office
1 March 2019 – 19 December 2019
LeaderHeidi Allen (Acting)
Anna Soubry
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Nationality, Citizenship and Immigration
In office
5 May 2006 – 29 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Sec. of StateJohn Reid
Preceded byAndy Burnham
Succeeded byMeg Hillier
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
13 June 2003 – 5 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
ChancellorGordon Brown
Preceded byJim Fitzpatrick
Succeeded byKevin Brennan
Assistant Government Whip
In office
29 May 2002 – 13 June 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Chief WhipHilary Armstrong
Member of Parliament
for Enfield North
In office
7 May 2015 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byNick de Bois
Succeeded byFeryal Clark
In office
1 May 1997 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byTim Eggar
Succeeded byNick de Bois
Personal details
Born (1955-09-08) 8 September 1955 (age 64)
Warrington, Lancashire, England
Political partyIndependent (since 2019)
Other political
Change UK (2019)
Labour (until 2019)
Spouse(s)Martin Hegarty
Alma materCity of Liverpool College of Higher Education
Polytechnic of the South Bank

Joan Marie Ryan (born 8 September 1955) is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Enfield North from 1997 to 2010 and from 2015 to 2019. Ryan studied sociology and worked as a teacher, before becoming a Labour councillor on Barnet London Borough Council in 1990, serving as deputy leader of the council from 1994 to 1998.

She was a government whip under Tony Blair from 2002 to 2006, a junior Home Office minister responsible for ID cards from 2006 to 2007, and the Prime Minister's Special Representative to Cyprus from 2007 to 2008, when she was sacked.

She lost her seat in the 2010 general election after an expenses scandal and was deputy campaign director of NOtoAV in the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum.

Ryan was re-elected in Enfield North in the 2015 general election. She was chair of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and has been highly critical of Jeremy Corbyn. In 2018, she lost a motion of no confidence by her constituency party. Ryan left Labour to join The Independent Group in 2019.

In September 2019, Ryan announced that she would not stand at the next general election. And was subsequently succeeded by Feryal Clark of the Labour Party in the 2019 General Election.

Early life and education[edit]

Ryan was born in Warrington, Lancashire. She attended local schools before studying history and sociology at the City of Liverpool College of Higher Education. She graduated in 1979 and went on to study for a master's degree in sociology at Polytechnic of the South Bank, graduating in 1981. She taught sociology and politics in Hammersmith at William Morris Academy and also worked as an interviewer for the Imperial War Museum in the 1980s.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

Barnet council, 1990–1998[edit]

Ryan was elected as a councillor for the East Finchley ward[3] on Barnet London Borough Council, representing the Labour Party, in 1990. She became chair of the policy and resources committee in 1994, before becoming deputy leader of the council later that year. She served on the council and as deputy leader until 1998.[4]

Blair and Brown governments, 1997–2010[edit]

Ryan was elected as the Labour Member of Parliament for Enfield North in the 1997 general election.[5] In her first years as an MP, she was known as an advocate for Greek Cypriots in her constituency and in the Commons, and also as an opponent of Ken Livingstone during the creation of the Greater London Authority (GLA).[5] She sat on the board of the London Labour Party and defended a vetting panel for mayoral candidates that was accused of bias.[6] In response to Livingtone's campaign to get on the ballot, Ryan said "It is not acceptable. I think the public are fed up with it. He should wait his turn."[7]

Ryan was appointed as parliamentary private secretary to Andrew Smith in 1998, and as an assistant whip in 2002.[5] A parliamentary question from Ryan in January 2000, on the topic of businesses breaking the UN sanctions on Angola, led Foreign Office minister Peter Hain to name three businessmen who he claimed had been breaking the sanctions.[8] In January 2001, Ryan voted in favour of a ban on hunting.[9] She was appointed as a junior minister at the Home Office in Tony Blair's May 2006 reshuffle.[10] In July, a report authored by Ryan was leaked to The Mail on Sunday; it said that a surge in immigration from eastern Europe in 2007 could put pressure on Britain's education, health, and welfare services, and could also lead to "potentially serious" consequences for community cohesion.[11]

From 2006 until 2007, Ryan was the minister responsible for the then government's controversial ID card scheme.[12][13]

In April 2007, she launched a campaign to promote the achievements and financial struggles of 'supplementary schools', based on the concerns of Enfield Turkish School in her constituency, and she sent a dossier to Andrew Adonis to that effect.[14] In June 2007, she became vice-chair of the Labour Party.[15] She was also removed as a Home Office minister and appointed as the Prime Minister's Special Representative to Cyprus.[16] In September 2008, she was revealed by Siobhain McDonagh to have requested leadership nomination papers ahead of the party's annual conference.[17] Ryan said that it was time for the party's "direction and leadership" to be debated openly. Gordon Brown subsequently sacked her from her Cyprus and Labour Party roles.[18]

In 2009, Ryan led delegations of MPs on two international trips, one to Canberra and Melbourne in Australia, and the other to Cameroon.[19] A man was acquitted of harassing Ryan in March 2010 on the grounds of insanity. Ryan, who lived on the same street as the man, had stayed away from her house with her family since January, following two incidents that had left her "terrified".[20]

Expenses controversies[edit]

In October 2007, the Evening Standard reported that Ryan had claimed £173,691 in expenses in the 2006/2007 tax year, the highest of any MP in London. She had been the second-highest claimant in the previous tax year.[21] In May 2007, Ryan had voted in favour of David Maclean's Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, which would have kept details of parliamentary expenses secret.[22]

During the parliamentary expenses scandal, The Daily Telegraph revealed in May 2009 that Ryan had spent £4,500 of expenses on a second home in Enfield before "flipping" it with her main home, a flat in south London. Between 2004 and 2008, she had designated her house in Enfield, which was in her constituency, as a second home. She designated her main home during that period as a south London flat she bought in 2004. She had spent £1,045 on repairs and refurbishment to the second home in 2007/2008, and £3,624 on it during 2008/2009. The work was covered by the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA).[22]

In response to the report, Ryan said that she had not made any claims for refurbishment on her south London flat and therefore had not "flipped" the properties to maximise the benefit of the allowances. She told the Telegraph that when she was in government, the rules required her to designate her flat as her main home because it was closest to Parliament. After leaving government, she decided to change it to the Enfield house as she had "returned to spending more time" there.[22][23] In Thomas Legg's February 2010 audit report of expenses claims, Ryan was asked to repay £5,121.74 for mortgage interest claims. By the time of publication of the report, she had only paid £322.45.[24][25] In response to her role in the expenses scandal, a campaign group formed in 2013 called 'Apologise, Joan', asking her to make a public apology.[26]

Wikipedia edits[edit]

The Independent reported in March 2012 that "at least 10 attempts" were made from computers on the Parliamentary estate to remove information about Ryan's expenses from her Wikipedia article. A further 20 attempts were made from inside her former constituency of Enfield North.[27] In his "2010 Editing Wikipedia From Inside Parliament Awards", entertainer Tom Scott gave the anonymous editor of Ryan's page the "Sweeping Things Under The Carpet Award".[28] In November 2014, the Enfield Independent reported that a section titled "Involvement in the expenses scandal" had been removed from her page. In response, Ryan said that allegations she had altered the entry were "categorically untrue" and that this was a "politically-motivated smear campaign against me [Ryan]."[25] The Daily Telegraph reported that the entire section about expenses on Ryan’s page was deleted by computers inside Parliament in run-up to the 2015 general election. Ryan, though a parliamentary candidate, was not an MP at the time.[29]

Out of Parliament, NOtoAV 2010–2015[edit]

Ryan was defeated by Conservative candidate Nick de Bois by 1,692 votes in the 2010 general election.[30] After losing her seat, she was appointed Chief Executive of the Global Tamil Forum, and later became deputy director of the successful NOtoAV campaign.[31]

In March 2013, Ryan announced she was to seek re-selection by Labour to contest the Enfield North constituency at the 2015 general election.[32] After her reselection, several constituents wrote to her local paper, the Enfield Advertiser, suggesting that voters had not yet forgotten the revelations about her expenses in 2009.[33] She regained her seat in the House of Commons with a majority of 1,086 votes.

Reelected Labour MP 2015–2019[edit]

Labour Friends of Israel[edit]

In August 2015, Ryan became Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel. In the 2015 Labour leadership election campaign, she urged those voting to choose a candidate who in government could "play a constructive and engaged role in the crucial search for a" two-state solution to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In particular, she noted the "deep concerns" that she said arose from the positions Jeremy Corbyn had taken in the past and the "serious questions which arise from these".[34]

In her position as chair of LFI, Ryan was filmed as part of an Al Jazeera documentary on the alleged influence of the Israeli lobby in British politics, The Lobby.[35][36][37] This documentary was cited by her constituency Labour Party (CLP) in their vote of no confidence against the MP; in The Lobby, the CLP said Ryan made false allegations of antisemitism against the party.[38]

She retained the position in February 2019 when she resigned from the Labour Party.[39] In August 2019, she relinquished the role to Louise Ellman and became honorary president.[40]

She is also a Vice-President of the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group.[41]

'Independent-minded' election campaign[edit]

During the 2017 general election campaign, Ryan urged constituents in her election literature to vote for her because she was "independent-minded" in the context of the perceived unpopularity of Corbyn.[42] She wrote in her election letter that constituents she had spoken to had more faith in Theresa May as PM, than in Corbyn as May's potential successor. Ryan, arguing in line with most opinion polls, said she expected May's government to return with a much larger number of MPs, but that she was well placed to combat such a Conservative majority.[42][43] It was the fifth time Ryan and Nick de Bois had stood against each other.[44]

No-confidence vote[edit]

On 6 September 2018, her Constituency Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence in her. It accused her of acting like an "independent MP in all but name", of making false accusations of antisemitism, and of fuelling a "trial by media" by smearing Jeremy Corbyn.[38][45][46] Ryan blamed her defeat on "Trots, Stalinists and communists", who she said had entered the Enfield North Labour Party, and said "Just to be clear I will not be resigning. I am Labour through and through and I will continue to stand up and fight for Labour values."[47]

The Independent Group[edit]

Ryan left the Labour Party on 19 February 2019 to join the Independent Group of former Labour MPs, accusing Corbyn and the "Stalinist clique which surrounds him" of failing to provide effective opposition[48] and of "presiding over a culture of antisemitism and hatred of Israel".[49] Ryan said she had faced a "torrent of abuse" when leaving Labour but maintained that "those threats only strengthen my resolve."[50]

In February 2019, the Labour Party reported Ryan to the Information Commissioner’s Office, accusing Ryan of accessing party systems to contact members after resigning from the party. Ryan told The Guardian: "Neither I nor my office have accessed or used any Labour Party data since I resigned the Labour whip and my membership of the Labour Party."[51]

In September 2019, Ryan announced that she would not stand at the next general election.[52] On 5 December, Ryan publicly announced that she would not be voting for Labour at the following week's general election, citing entryism as causing changes which meant she could no longer support the Labour Party. She also indicated that while she was not telling people how to vote there was "a huge risk if we vote for Jeremy Corbyn". She also called on Labour MPs to remove Corbyn as leader after the election.[53]

Personal life[edit]

As of April 2010, Ryan lived in Enfield with her husband, Martin Hegarty, and had two children and two grandchildren.[54]


  1. ^ Carr, Tim, ed. (2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015. Biteback Publishing. pp. Joan Ryan. ISBN 9781849549240.
  2. ^ "London South Bank University congratulates alumni on election successes". London South Bank University. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Election results" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Joan Ryan". BBC News. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Joan Ryan". BBC News. 17 October 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  6. ^ Waugh, Paul (30 January 1999). "Labour vetting panel has 'bias to stop Livingstone'". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  7. ^ Waugh, Paul (9 February 1999). "'Support me' campaign by Livingstone". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  8. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (19 January 2000). "Unita 'sanctions busters' named". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  9. ^ "The Hunting debate: How MPs voted". The Guardian. 18 January 2001. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Full list of junior ministers". The Guardian. 8 May 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  11. ^ Tempest, Matthew (31 July 2006). "New EU migrants may put pressure on public services, says report". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  12. ^ "The 'Blair babes': Where are they now?". 8 May 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  13. ^ Lettice, John (18 July 2006). "Curse of Blunkett strikes Home Office minister". Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  14. ^ Gould, Mark (3 April 2007). "Supplementary benefits". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  15. ^ Revill, Jo (15 July 2007). "The £4,800 cheque that tripped Cameron's man". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Rt Hon Joan Ryan MP". Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  17. ^ Percival, Jenny (12 September 2008). "Labour whip forced to resign over leadership contest call". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Brown sacks Cyprus envoy Joan Ryan over leadership comments". The Scotsman. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  19. ^ "CPA UK Annual Review 2009/2010" (PDF). Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  20. ^ Crown, Hannah (10 March 2010). "Man acquitted of harassing Enfield North MP Joan Ryan on grounds of insanity". Enfield Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  21. ^ Cecil, Nicholas; Waugh, Paul; Murphy, Joe (26 October 2007). "Revealed: London MPs claiming £9m expenses". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  22. ^ a b c Leach, Ben; Jamieson, Alastair (17 May 2009). "Joan Ryan: expenses switch after £4,500 spend". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  23. ^ "MPs' expenses in detail". BBC News. 19 June 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  24. ^ "MPs' expenses: the Legg report's full list of MPs and their repayments". The Guardian. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
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  26. ^ "Home". Apologise, Joan. 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  27. ^ Pegg, David; Wright, Oliver (9 March 2012). "Who are the Commons moles changing Wikipedia entries?". The Independent. London.
  28. ^ Scott, Tom. "The 2010 "Editing Wikipedia From Inside Parliament" Awards". Tom Scott. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  29. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (26 May 2015). "Expenses and sex scandal deleted from MPs' Wikipedia pages by computers inside Parliament". The Daily Telegraph.
  30. ^ BBC. "General election 2010 results – Enfield North". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  31. ^ Wilson, Peter (16 April 2011). "Referendum puts Nick Clegg in the crosshairs". The Australian.
  32. ^ Leach, Ben (17 May 2009). "Joan Ryan: expenses switch after £4,500 spend". The Daily Telegraph.
  33. ^ Mason, Rowena (24 June 2013). "Labour reselect Joan Ryan, former MP criticised over expenses". The Daily Telegraph.
  34. ^ Dysch, Marcus (20 September 2017). "Joan Ryan: 'I won't walk away from my principles'". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  35. ^ "Israel sorry after Embassy employee suggested 'taking down' Tory minister Sir Alan Duncan". The Telegraph. 8 January 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  36. ^ Harpin, Lee (8 January 2017). "Israeli ambassador apologises after aide says he wants to 'take down' Foreign Office minister". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  37. ^ Streatfield, Zoe (12 January 2017). "Israel spends £1 million on bribing British MPs". Morning Star. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  38. ^ a b "Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan loses no-confidence vote". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  39. ^ "LFI Supporters In Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  40. ^ Harpin, Lee (7 August 2019). "Dame Louise Ellman becomes new Labour Friends of Israel chair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  41. ^ "Officers". ALL-PARTY BRITAIN-ISRAEL PARLIAMENTARY GROUP. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  42. ^ a b Elgot, Jessica (2 June 2017). "Back me despite Corbyn as May will win, Labour candidate urges voters". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  43. ^ Watts, Joe (2 June 2017). "Labour candidate defending London seat admits people have more confidence in Theresa May than Jeremy Corbyn". The Independent. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  44. ^ Harpin, Lee (8 May 2017). "Labour owes Jews an apology, says Joan Ryan". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
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  46. ^ "LFI chair Joan Ryan loses local no confidence vote by 94 votes to 92". Jewish News. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
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  48. ^ "MP Joan Ryan quits Labour for Independent Group". BBC News. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  49. ^ Zeffman, Henry; Devlin, Kate (20 February 2019). "Joan Ryan is eighth Labour MP to quit, blaming 'Corbyn culture of antisemitism'". The Times. London. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  50. ^ "MP who quit UK Labour over anti-Semitism warns AIPAC 'things can change quickly'". The Times of Israel. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  51. ^ Elgot, Jessica (20 February 2019). "Labour reports former MP Joan Ryan over alleged data breach". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
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  53. ^ "Former Labour MP Joan Ryan urges people not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn". 5 December 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  54. ^ "Election 2010: Joan Ryan, Labour Candidate for Enfield North". Enfield Independent. Newsquest Media. Retrieved 20 February 2019.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tim Eggar
Member of Parliament
for Enfield North

Succeeded by
Nick de Bois
Preceded by
Nick de Bois
Member of Parliament
for Enfield North

Succeeded by
Feryal Clark