Robert Buckland

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Robert Buckland

Official portrait of Robert Buckland crop 2.jpg
Secretary of State for Justice
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Assumed office
24 July 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byDavid Gauke
Minister of State for Prisons
In office
9 May 2019 – 24 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byRory Stewart
Succeeded byLucy Frazer
Solicitor General for England and Wales
In office
15 July 2014 – 9 May 2019
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byOliver Heald
Succeeded byLucy Frazer
Member of Parliament
for South Swindon
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byAnne Snelgrove
Majority2,464 (4.8%)
Personal details
Born
Robert James Buckland

(1968-09-22) 22 September 1968 (age 51)
Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Children2
Alma materInns of Court School of Law, University of Durham
OccupationBarrister, Crown Court Recorder
Websitewww.robertbuckland.co.uk
parliament..robert-buckland

Robert James Buckland QC (born 22 September 1968)[1][2] is a British politician and barrister serving as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice since 2019. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Swindon since the 2010 United Kingdom general election. He was a supporter of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union during the 2016 referendum; he served as Solicitor General for England and Wales from 2014 to 2019, until he became Minister of State for Prisons, an office he held for less than three months.

Early life and career[edit]

Buckland was born on 22 September 1968 in Llanelli, Wales. He was educated locally at Old Road County Primary School and went on to be privately educated at St Michael's School. He then studied at Hatfield College of the University of Durham, where he became Secretary of the Junior Common Room and President of the Durham Union Society in Michaelmas term 1989.[3] He graduated in Law in 1990, and the following year was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple.[4]

Buckland practised as a barrister in Wales from 1992 to 2010, specialising in criminal law. He was appointed as a Recorder in 2009, sitting as a part-time Judge in the Crown Court. He became a Queen's Counsel in 2014 on becoming Solicitor General and a Master of the Bench at Inner Temple.[5]

Entry into politics[edit]

Buckland stood as the Conservative Party candidate for Elli Ward on Dyfed County Council in May 1993, winning the seat from Labour with a majority of just 3 votes. It was reported that he was the first Conservative "in living memory" to have been elected in the Llanelli area.[6] Following local government reorganisation, the Elli Ward became part of the unitary Carmarthenshire County Council and Buckland stood again in 1995 where he lost to the Labour candidate by over 200 votes.[7]

In 1994, Buckland stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative Party candidate for the safe Labour European Parliament seat of South Wales West. The following year he stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative Party candidate for the safe Labour parliamentary seat of Islwyn in the by-election caused by the appointment of the sitting MP Neil Kinnock as a European Commissioner. This by-election was held at a time of unpopularity for the Conservative government, and was comfortably won by the Labour candidate Don Touhig, Buckland polling only 3.9% of the vote. He went on to stand unsuccessfully for the Conservative Party as their candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire at the 1997 general election. He was on the Conservative Party list of candidates for Wales at the 1999 European elections, but was again unsuccessful.

In 2005, Buckland was selected as the Conservative Party's prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Swindon South, replacing former MP Simon Coombs who had represented Swindon between 1983 and 1997, and had unsuccessfully contested the seat in 2001. At the 2005 general election, Buckland lost to Labour candidate Anne Snelgrove, who polled 17,534 votes to his 16,181, a narrow majority of 1,353 votes.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Following defeat in 2005, Buckland won the Swindon South seat at the 2010 general election with a majority of 3,544 votes. This represented a swing of 5.51% to the Conservatives. He obtained 19,687 votes, (41.8% of the total) compared to 16,143 votes for the incumbent Anne Snelgrove.

In 2010, Buckland was elected to the Justice Select Committee. In 2012, Buckland along with fellow Tory MP Stuart Andrew, called for prisoners' mobile phones to be destroyed or sold to raise money for victims' charities, saying that mobiles in prison were a "menace" and that selling them would provide a service to the country, as it costs £20,000 a year to store criminals' phones. They were both supported by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Legal Aid and Legal Services Jeremy Wright and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Sadiq Khan.[8] He chaired the All Party Group on Autism from 2011 to 2014 and was an officer of the All Party Group on Speech, Language and Communication.

On 4 December 2012 Buckland was elected Joint Secretary of the influential 1922 Backbench Committee. He was also Chair of the Conservative Human Rights Commission from 2011 to 2014. He sat on the Standards Committee and the Privileges Committee from 2012 to 2014. He also served on the Joint Committee on Human Rights from 2013 to 2014 and the Joint Committee on Privacy and Superinjunctions which was convened from 2011 to 2012.[9]

On 15 July 2014, Buckland was appointed Solicitor General for England and Wales, replacing Oliver Heald as part of a wide-ranging government reshuffle.[10]

As Solicitor General, Buckland took the Serious Crime Bill 2014 (now the Serious Crime Act 2015) through its Commons stages in Bill Committee. The Bill contained provisions that, amongst other things, updated the criminal law of child neglect and introduced a criminal offence of coercive control of people within close relationships in a domestic context. As a backbencher, he had campaigned on these issues. In 2015, he worked with Home Office Minister James Brokenshire to take the Immigration Bill through its Commons stages. In 2016, he successfully helped to take the Investigatory Powers Bill through its Commons stages.

His appointment as Solicitor General for England and Wales in July 2014 attracted media attention after it was revealed he had been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Bar Standards Board for a case related to work in 2008. He had headed up an investigation into a racially-motivated attack at a school at which he was a governor. Despite having no legal grounds to do so, Buckland sought to obtain documents relating to the incident that were held by a barrister representing one of the pupils involved. In response, the Attorney General's office stated that Buckland's breach had been "minor" and that the finding "was removed from the Bar records after two years and therefore Mr Buckland was not required to declare it upon appointment as Solicitor General."[11][better source needed]

In February 2015, it was reported that Buckland was one of a number of individuals investing in the Invicta Film Partnership, which HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had alleged to be a tax avoidance scheme. This followed a tax tribunal that had ruled that two film partnership schemes were being used primarily for tax avoidance rather than for business purposes and that the investors were not therefore entitled to the claimed tax relief. Buckland responded that he had not attempted to avoid tax and his investments were a matter of public record. He argued his financial adviser had looked into the companies and found them to be completely beyond reproach.[12] In April 2016, it was reported that he was one of 12 ministers using 'blind trusts'. Investments within a blind trust can be kept completely private as financial control is handed to a third party, resulting in issues of transparency for politicians. Such financial arrangements are lawful and had been used by David Cameron, the Prime Minister at the time, and others.[11][better source needed]

In the 2015 general election, Buckland retained his seat with an increased majority of 5,785 votes, a swing of 2.2% to the Conservatives and an increase of 4.5% in the Conservative vote. In the 2017 general election, Buckland again held his seat, but with a decreased majority of 2,484 votes, a swing of 3.5% to Labour but with an increase of 8.9% in the Conservative vote.

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, Buckland 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.[13]

In May 2019, Buckland was appointed as Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice in succession to Rory Stewart who had been appointed as Secretary of State for International Development. Buckland was replaced as Solicitor General for England and Wales by Lucy Frazer.

Secretary of State for Justice[edit]

In July 2019, Buckland was appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He was sworn in as a Member of the Privy Council on 25 July 2019. A week later, in an interview for The Times newspaper, he expressed the opinion that suspects accused of serious crimes should be granted anonymity if the accusations threatened their reputation, stating "(l)et’s say you are a reputable local business person who is accused of fraud. Your good name is going to be really undermined by this mere accusation. That might be a meritorious case for anonymity."[14] In response to the interview, Ian Murray, director of the Society of Editors, stated said it was "absurd to suggest that in a liberal democracy we are going to create a system of justice that enables the rich, the powerful and celebrities to be protected when they are under investigation for serious crimes but the ordinary man or woman would be offered no such protections." Buckland's opinion was rejected by a government spokesman, who confirmed "this is not government policy", and the Ministry of Justice, which confirmed "this isn't departmental policy" and stated that Buckland would not be giving further interviews on the subject, which would now be handled by Downing Street.[15]

In the House of Commons Buckland sat on the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Statutory Instruments (Select and Joint Committees), Standards and Privileges Committee, Privacy and Injunctions (Joint Committee), Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee), Justice Committee and Human Rights (Joint Committee).[16]

At the 2019 Conservative Party Conference, Buckland set out plans to ensure that sexual and violent offenders would be required to serve two-thirds of their sentence, as opposed to half.[17]

Awards[edit]

In 2011, Buckland was awarded the Politician of the Year Award by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists for his campaigning work on speech, language and communication issues. In January 2013, Buckland was awarded the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award under the Social Driver category for his extensive work on advocating awareness at parliament for children with special educational needs, including those with autism both locally and nationally.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8745.
  2. ^ "Robert Buckland MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  3. ^ "About Robert". Robert Buckland QC MP. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  4. ^ "About Robert". Robert Buckland. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  5. ^ Phillip Taylor MBE (26 October 2015). "What the modern Solicitor General does as a government officer in 2015". The Barrister Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015.
  6. ^ Castle, Stephen; Birnberg, Ariadne (9 February 1997). "The Cabinet of Tomorrow?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Carmarthenshire Council Election Results 1995–2012" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  8. ^ "MP bids to allow prisoners' mobile phones to be sold off". BBC News. 14 September 2012. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Robert Buckland MP". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  10. ^ Graham, Georgia (15 July 2014). "Cabinet reshuffle: after the sackings, the ministerial promotions". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Solicitor General under pressure over blind trust disclosure". legalcheek.com. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Robert Buckland: Tory law officer has money in film partnership that is being investigated by HMRC". Independent. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  14. ^ Ames, Jonathan (31 July 2019). "Suspects in sex crimes 'should be anonymous'". The Times.(subscription required)
  15. ^ Elgot, Jessica (1 August 2019). "No 10 rebuffs new minister's backing for pre-charge anonymity". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "Robert Buckland". Parliament UK. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Swindon MP Robert Buckland to set out violent prisoner plans at Conservative conference | The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald". Gazetteandherald.co.uk. 1 October 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who". Grassroot Diplomat. 15 March 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Anne Snelgrove
Member of Parliament for Swindon South
2010–present
Incumbent
Legal offices
Preceded by
Oliver Heald
Solicitor General for England and Wales
2015–2019
Succeeded by
Lucy Frazer
Political offices
Preceded by
Rory Stewart
Minister of State for Prisons
2019
Succeeded by
Lucy Frazer
Preceded by
David Gauke
Secretary of State for Justice
2019–present
Incumbent
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
2019–present
Order of precedence in England and Wales
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John Sentamu
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Order of precedence in Scotland
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