Gerald Howarth

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Person.png Gerald Howarth WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician, banker)
Born12 September 1947
Alma materUniversity of Southampton

(James) Gerald (Douglas) Howarth known as Gerald Howarth is a Conservative MP and right-wing operative. He is a former banker and pro-apartheid campaigner.


Howarth was educated at Haileybury and ISC Junior School in Windsor and Bloxham School in Banbury. He read English at the University of Southampton where he served with the University Air Squadron and was commissioned into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1968. [1]

Pro-Apartheid and anti-immigration campaigning

Since the late 1960s Howarth has been extremely conservative. He supported the US attack on Vietnam, opposed immigration and supported apartheid. In the late 1960s Howarth became General Secretary of the Society for Individual Freedom, [2] an organisations whose chairman had once called for the repatriation of black immigrants. [3] According to an account later given by an agent of The South African Bureau Of State Security (BOSS), "Most of the people associated with it were eminently respectable, and at least four of them were titled." The author was told by a colleague that: "at least two senior British intelligence operatives are members and it’s almost certainly a British intelligence front organization which is mainly used for disseminating Establishment-type propaganda." [4]

In 1971 Howarth began a career in international banking whilst remaining active in right wing politics. He worked for Bank of America International Ltd (1971-1977), the European Arab Bank (1977-81) and in 1981 he was appointed Manager, Loan Syndications at Standard Chartered Bank, responsible for arranging major international loans. [5]

From 1973-77 he was the honorary director of Freedom Under Law, an organisation formed to counter the anti-apartheid movement and the boycott campaigns in particular. Francis Bennion, who was also a member of Freedom Under Law, [6] in 1972 had brought a private prosecution against the young Peter Hain for criminal conspiracy in relation to Hain's activities as chairman of the Stop the Seventy Tour Campaign.

In 1975 Howarth and Francis Bennion established a conservative organisation called the Dicey Trust to ‘encourage the rule of law’ through lectures and presentations at schools and colleges. [7] Other members of the Trust included the conservative academic Antony Flew and the Conservative MP Rhodes Boyson. [8]

In 1982 Howarth was elected a member of Hounslow Borough Council and in 1983 was elected Conservative MP for Cannock and Burntwood. [9]

Attacking the BBC

Together with fellow Conservative MP Neil Hamilton, Howarth brought a libel action against the BBC over the Panorama programme, 'Maggie's Militant Tendency'. The case came to the High Court in October 1986 and the BBC subsequently settled, [10] according to the BBC Director-General Alasdair Milne because he was instructed to by the Governors. It cost the BBC £50,000 in damages and £250,000 in costs after "the governors instructed me to pull out". [11] This was followed by a Commons motion signed by 100 Tory MPs calling on the DG to resign. [12]

The libel action was supported by Ralph Harris, director of the right-wing think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. Harris said: "I remember at the time Neil [Hamilton] came to me and raised the question of financing the libel action. I managed to raise around £100,000, enabling Neil at the time to go after the BBC."[13] A major donor to the fund was financier James Goldsmith. [14]

Political Appointments

His first official political appointment was as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Spicer MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy (1987-90), then Minister of State for the Department of the Environment (1990-91). He became PPS to Margaret Thatcher from December 1991 to April 1992. Between 1983 and 1992 he was an officer of the Conservative Parliamentary Aviation Committee and was a Founder Member of the No Turning Back group. [15]

In 1993, a year after losing his seat in Staffordshire, Gerald was selected as the candidate for Aldershot where he succeeded Sir Julian Critchley in 1997. Since then, he has served on the Home Affairs Select Committee (1997-2001) and as Vice-Chairman of the Defence Select Committee (2001-03). For a while he was a member of the Executive of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers. [16]

Since 2002 he has served as a Shadow Defence Minister with responsibility for defence procurement and the Royal Air Force. In addition to his frontbench duties Gerald is also Convenor (Chairman) of the all party RAF Group, an officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Aerospace Group, Chairman of the 92 Group of Conservative MPs, and an active member of the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group.[17]


On Muslims:

"If they don't like our way of life, there is a simple remedy: go to another country, get out. There are plenty of other countries whose way of life would appear to be more conducive to what they aspire to. They would be happy and we would be happy" - Gerald Howarth, 2005 [18]

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  1., About Gerald (accessed 21 January 2009)
  2. Letter to The Times, Monday, Nov 17, 1969; pg. 11; Issue 57719; col D
  3. Extract from Gordon Winter, Inside Boss (Penguin Books Ltd 1981) p.382
  4. Extract from Gordon Winter, Inside Boss (Penguin Books Ltd 1981) p.382
  5., About Gerald (accessed 21 January 2009)
  6. ‘BENNION, Francis Alan Roscoe’, Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2008
  7. ’Trust to back rule of law’, The Guardian, 11 March 1975 pg. 7
  8. ’Trust to back rule of law’, The Guardian, 11 March 1975 pg. 7
  9. ‘HOWARTH, (James) Gerald (Douglas)’, Who's Who 2009, A & C Black, 2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2008
  10. Tom O'Malley, Closedown? (Pluto Press, 1994), p.61
  11. Knives are out for the BBC bosses, Independent, 9 January 2006
  12. Tom O'Malley, Closedown? (Pluto Press, 1994), p.61
  13. quoted in Kim Sengupta, 'The Hamilton Affair: The cost - Right-wing donors united by their loathing of Fayed', Independent, 22 December 1999
  14. Patricia Wynn Davies, '[The Cash-for-Questions Affair: The miners' grandson who found a niche in the right]', Independent, 21 October 1994; p.3
  15., About Gerald (accessed 21 January 2009)
  16., About Gerald (accessed 21 January 2009)
  17., About Gerald (accessed 21 January 2009)
  18. Gerri Peev, 'Muslims who hate us can get out, says Tory', The Scotsman, 3 August 2005