Richard Drax

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Richard Drax

Official portrait of Richard Drax MP crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for South Dorset
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byJim Knight
Majority17,153 (33.6%)
Personal details
Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax

(1958-01-29) 29 January 1958 (age 62)
Westminster, London, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Elsebet (née Bødtker)
ResidenceCharborough House, Dorset
Alma materRoyal Agricultural College
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
ProfessionArmy officer; journalist
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1978–1987
RankBritish Army OF-2.svg Captain
Service number506831
UnitColdstream Guards Badge.png Coldstream Guards

Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax (born 29 January 1958), known as Richard Drax, is a British Conservative politician, journalist, landowner and former British Army officer, serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Dorset since 2010.

Early life[edit]

Drax was born on 29 January 1958 in Westminster. He was privately educated at Harrow School before going to the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester where he graduated with a diploma in rural land management in 1990, receiving a further diploma in journalism in 1995.[1][2]


Military service[edit]

Drax passed out from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned in the British Army joining the Coldstream Guards on 9 December 1978 as a second lieutenant; he was given the Personal Number 506831.[3] Drax was promoted lieutenant on 9 December 1980,[4] before being transferred to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers after active service on 9 December 1983, ending his first period of full-time military service.[5]

Drax was reinstated on the Active List on 10 September 1984, beginning his second and final period of regular service. He retained the rank of lieutenant with seniority from 10 September 1981 to reflect the three years he had served.[6] He was promoted captain on 10 March 1986.[7]

He relinquished his British Army commission on 9 September 1987, thereby retiring after nine years' service as a Coldstreamer.[8]


Drax worked at York's Evening Press as a reporter in 1991,[2] before joining BBC South where he appeared on both radio and television media, including the daily television news programme South Today.[9]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Selected as a Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate in July 2006, at the general election in May 2010 Drax defeated the incumbent Labour Member of Parliament for South Dorset, Jim Knight, later Baron Knight of Weymouth.[10] Drax retained his seat in the 2015 general election with an increased majority and the 2017 general election.

On 5 February 2013, Drax voted in the House of Commons against a Second Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which legalised marriage for same-sex couples.[11]

In the House of Commons he has sat on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and currently serves on the European Scrutiny Committee.[12]

In 2009, Drax faced criticism from political rivals for 'hiding his aristocratic roots' by not using his full quadruple-barrelled name. It was suggested the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has asked wealthy Conservative candidates to shorten their names to appear more in touch with normal people. Drax denied the accusations, saying that he only used the shortened version of his name because of the "logistic mouthful", while Cameron's comments were a "throw away joke".[13]

In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Drax was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.[14]

"They work for you" website ( shows Drax has voted against measures to limit climate change, against various pieces of equality and human rights legislation, against same sex marriage, against proportional representation, against smoking bans, against a higher tax rate for those earning above £150,000, against a bankers' bonus tax, for lower corporate taxes, for lower welfare benefits, for ending educational financial support for any 16-19 year olds and for the "bedroom tax".


Drax lives in his family's ancestral seat, Charborough House – a Grade I listed manor house in rural Dorset. He holds the lordship of the manor of Longburton [15] and is a major landowner in east Dorest.[16]

Drax is the eldest son of Walter Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax JP DL and The Hon. Pamela Weeks (1931–2019) and a grandson of Admiral The Hon. Sir Reginald Drax, younger son of the 17th Lord Dunsany thereby being in remainder to the ancient Barony of Dunsany (cr. 1462): the second oldest title in the Peerage of Ireland. His great-uncle was the celebrated writer and playwright the 18th Lord Dunsany, and his maternal grandfather was General the Lord Weeks.

His first wife (divorced 1997) was Zara Legge-Bourke, younger sister of the royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, relations of the Earl of Dartmouth. Drax married his second wife; Eliza, daughter of Commander James Dugdale RN (related to David Cameron). Drax since married Norwegian-born Elsebet Bødtker and has four children in total.[17][18]

At least six of his ancestors, including John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle-Drax and the 17th Lord Dunsany, were Members of Parliament for Dorset and Gloucestershire between the 1680s and 1880s. A cousin is the 19th and present Lord Dunsany.[19] In 2013, the BBC revealed that his ancestor John Erle-Drax had been a slave trader, who had received £4,293 12s 6d in compensation when slavery was abolished.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b "DRAX, Richard Grosvenor". Who's Who 2013. A & C Black. November 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  3. ^ "No. 47757". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 January 1979. p. 1300.
  4. ^ "No. 48460". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 December 1980. p. 17809.
  5. ^ "No. 49574". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 December 1983. p. 16793.
  6. ^ "No. 49904". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 October 1984. p. 14268.
  7. ^ "No. 50461". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 1986. p. 3836.
  8. ^ "No. 51067". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 September 1987. p. 11736.
  9. ^ "Dorset South Tories choose Drax". BBC News. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  10. ^ Laura Kitching and Catherine Bolado (7 May 2010). "Election 2010: Sweeping victory for Tory Richard Drax". Dorset Echo.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ The House of Commons 2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012–13.
  12. ^ "Richard Drax". Parliament UK. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Richard Drax hits out over name change claims". Dorset Echo. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  15. ^ Owen, Glen (6 December 2009). "The name's Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax... but 'De-toff' Cameron calls him plain Richard Drax". Daily Mail. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  16. ^ Shrubsole, Guy. "The ten landowners who own one-sixth of Dorset". Who Owns England?.
  17. ^ "Person Page".
  18. ^ "MP Richard Drax, his wife, the lesbian housekeeper and the threesome that never was. The Express. 7 June 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2019".
  19. ^ Mosley, Charles (ed.) (2003). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 107th edn. London: Burke's Peerage & Gentry Ltd. p. 1240 (DUNSANY, B). ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  20. ^ "Ancestors of Dorset MP Richard Drax on slavery database". BBC News. BBC. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2018.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jim Knight
Member of Parliament
for South Dorset

2010 – present