Peter Hain

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Person.png Peter Hain   Powerbase SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Peter Hain.jpg
BornPeter Gerald Hain
Nairobi, Kenya
Alma materQueen Mary University of London, University of London, University of Sussex
Member ofHouse of Lords/COVID-19 Committee
PartyLiberal Party (UK), Labour Party (UK)
UK politician on the House of Lords/COVID-19 Committee

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
11 May 2010 - 15 May 2012
Preceded byCheryl Gillan
Succeeded byOwen Smith

Employment.png Secretary of State for Wales Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
5 June 2009 - 11 May 2010
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byCheryl Gillan

Employment.png Secretary of State for Wales Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
24 October 2002 - 24 January 2008
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byPaul Murphy

Employment.png Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
28 June 2007 - 24 January 2008
Preceded byJohn Hutton
Succeeded byJames Purnell

Employment.png Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
6 May 2005 - 27 June 2007
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byShaun Woodward

Employment.png Leader of the House of Commons Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
11 June 2003 - 6 May 2005
Succeeded byGeoff Hoon

Employment.png Lord Privy Seal Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
13 June 2003 - 6 May 2005
Preceded byGareth Williams (politician)
Succeeded byGeoff Hoon

Employment.png Minister of State for Europe

In office
11 June 2001 - 24 October 2002
Preceded byKeith Vaz

Employment.png Minister of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

In office
28 July 1999 - 24 January 2001
Preceded byGeoff Hoon

Employment.png Member of Parliament for Neath

In office
4 April 1991 - 30 March 2015

Peter Gerald Hain is a British Labour Party politician, who was Member of Parliament for Neath from 1991 until 30 March 2015, and sat in the Cabinets of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Peter Hain was the Leader of the House of Commons from 2003 to 2005 and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2005 to 2007 under Blair, and as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales from 2007 to 2008 under Brown. In 2007, he ran for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party, coming fifth out of six candidates, although his failure to declare donations during this contest led to his resignation in 2008. He later returned to the Cabinet from 2009 to 2010 as Welsh Secretary, before becoming Shadow Welsh Secretary in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet from 2010 until 2012, when he announced his retirement from front-line politics.[1]

Peter Hain came to the UK from South Africa as a 16-year-old, and was a noted anti-apartheid campaigner in the 1970s. He reminisced:

"In March 1966, I was a teenager aboard an ocean liner steaming out of Cape Town, past Robben Island where Mandela and his fellow leaders of the African National Congress were jailed. My anti-apartheid activist parents had been forced to leave their beloved country and the 'island from hell' disappeared in the stormy mist as we headed for exile in Britain.
"People forget how tough it was then, how hard the struggle was to be for decades afterwards. The resistance had been closed down, leaders such as Mandela imprisoned, tortured, banned or forced underground.
"Within a few years, Mandela had almost been forgotten. British diplomats dismissed the ANC and Mandela as a busted flush. The white racist police state seemed omnipotent.
"But in Britain, the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) had kept the flame of freedom flickering. Soon it was lit by our militant protests, which stopped white South African rugby and cricket tours in 1969-70. The country had been forced into global sporting isolation."

Then, in February 2000:

"'Ah, Peter, return of the prodigal son!' Nelson Mandela beamed, welcoming me to his Johannesburg home.
"Although on an official government visit, in a sense I was also being welcomed to my 'home' – to South Africa, the panoramic, sunshine country of my childhood, as the first-ever British Minister for Africa to be born on that continent.
"Almost to the day, 10 years before, many of us had watched, tears welling up, as he had walked to freedom after 27 years in prison."[2]

On 3 March 2014, addressing a 2000-strong congregation at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey, Peter Hain said that:

Nelson Mandela "revered" Britain and never forgot it, even during his harshest years in jail on Robben Island.
At the time, when the apartheid regime was at its most ruthless, there was a majority in the House of Commons against Mr Mandela and the African National Congress. But "tens of thousands" of British citizens supported Mr Mandela's fight for freedom.

Peter Hain also spoke of the "great privilege" of having known Mr Mandela and his "impish and mischievous" sense of humour, citing the example of Mandela's "apologising for not attending our wedding in 2003 and saying perhaps I can come the next time".[3]

Early life

Peter Hain was born in the Kenya Colony, but moved to the Union of South Africa about a year later. His parents, Walter and Adelaine Hain, were anti-apartheid activists in the Liberal Party of South Africa, for which they were made "banned persons", briefly jailed, and prevented from working.[4]

When Hain was 10, he was awoken in the early hours by police officers searching his bedroom for 'incriminating documents'. At 15, Hain spoke at the funeral of John Frederick Harris, an anti-apartheid activist who was hanged for murder for the bombing of the Johannesburg main railway station, injuring 23 people and killing an elderly woman, Mrs Ethyl Rhys, whose grand-daughter suffered severe burns. As a result of security police harassment, Hain's father was unable to continue his work as an architect, and the family decided to leave for the United Kingdom in April 1966.[5]

Life in London

Peter Hain was educated at Pretoria Boys High School and at Emanuel School, the latter of which eventually becoming a private fee-paying institution, then Queen Mary College, University of London, graduating with a first class Bachelor's degree in Economics and Political Science in 1973, and the University of Sussex, obtaining an M.Phil. After university, Hain worked as a researcher for the Union of Communication Workers, rising to become UCW's head of research.


Hain became chairman of the "Stop The Seventy Tour" campaign which disrupted tours by the South African rugby union and cricket teams in 1969 and 1970.

In 1971 director John Goldschmidt produced a film for Granada's World in Action programme featuring Peter Hain debating "Apartheid in South Africa" at the Oxford Union. The film was transmitted on the ITV network.

In 1972 he was sent a letter bomb that failed to explode because of faulty wiring. In 1976 Hain was tried for, and acquitted of, a 1974 bank robbery, allegedly having been framed by the South African Bureau of State Security.[6][7]


He joined the Liberal Party and was elected chairperson and then president of the National League of Young Liberals, but in 1977 switched to Labour. The same year, he was a founder of the Anti-Nazi League and he remains a prominent supporter of Unite Against Fascism today.

Member of Parliament

Peter Hain contested Putney in the 1983 and 1987 United Kingdom general elections but was defeated on both occasions by Conservative David Mellor.[8][9]

He was elected to the House of Commons at the Neath by-election in April 1991 that followed the death of the sitting member, Donald Coleman. In 1995 he became a Labour whip and in 1996 became Shadow Employment Minister.[10]

Government Minister

After Labour's victory in the 1997 general election, Peter Hain joined the government, first at the Welsh Office (1997–1999), then as Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1999–2001. In November 1999, as Africa Minister he entertained Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in London who told him:

"I know you are not one of them, Peter; you are one of us."[11] But the following day, after an attempt by "Gay Rights" campaigner Peter Tatchell to carry out a 'citizen's arrest' on him, Mugabe accused Hain of being Tatchell's "wife".[12]

In October 2000, Peter Hain allegedly set up a war avoidance team to carry messages back and forth between himself and the then-Minister of Foreign Affairs in Iraq, Tariq Aziz (a matter then confidential, which has since been put on public record in an interview with Hain by BBC Radio 4's Today programme). Team members who travelled repeatedly to Iraq on behalf of Hain variously included William Morris (Next Century Foundation), Burhan Chalabi (an Iraqi-born British businessman), and Nasser al-Khalifa (the then-Qatari Ambassador to the UK).

In 2001 Peter Hain moved briefly to the Department of Trade and Industry before returning to the Foreign Office as Minister for Europe. He was vocal in advocating joint sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain[13] and was accused of deliberately misrepresenting the situation.[14] The agreement was described by Michael Ancram in the UK Parliament,[15] along with Gibraltar as a 'sell-out'[16][17][18] which was overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum in November 2002.

In October 2002, Peter Hain joined the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales, but continued to represent the UK at the Convention on the Future of Europe. In June 2003 he was made Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal in a cabinet reshuffle, but retained the Wales portfolio. In November 2004 Hain caused controversy among his political rivals when he claimed that "If we are tough on crime and on "terrorism", as Labour is, then I think Britain will be safer under Labour".

On 6 May 2005, following the 2005 general election, Hain was appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, retaining his Welsh position also. Although previously a supporter of Irish unity, he retreated from this position.

On 28 June 2007, he was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in addition to retaining responsibility for Wales. He was a proponent of the "tough love" measures designed to force claimants, including the sick and disabled, back to work. He saw it as an anti-poverty, full-employment agenda. He resigned from his post when the issue of donations made to his campaign funds were referred to the police.[19]

Peter Hain set a level of compensation for the taxpayer-funded Financial Assistance Scheme similar to that of the Industry funded Pension Protection Fund (PPF) for those whose schemes had collapsed before the establishment of the PPF. Referring to the long running Pensions Action Group campaign and speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Moneybox programme on the day compensation was announced, pensions expert Ros Altmann, credited Hain and Mike O'Brien with "having been very different to deal with than their predecessors and..willing and eager to engage and find a way to sort this out."[20]

Hain returned to the post of Secretary of State for Wales in June 2009.

Deputy leadership bid

On 12 September 2006, Peter Hain announced his candidacy for the position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. In January 2007, Hain gave an interview to the New Statesman magazine in which he made his pitch for the Deputy Leadership and referred to the George W Bush administration as "the most right-wing American administration, if not ever, then in living memory" and argued that "the neo-con agenda for America has been rejected by the people and I hope that will be the case for the future".[21] Hain was eliminated in the second round of the Deputy Leadership election, coming fifth out of the six candidates, with Harriet Harman being the successful candidate.[22]

Donations scandal

In January 2008, The Guardian reported that Peter Hain had failed to declare some 20 donations worth a total of over £100,000 during his Deputy Leadership campaign and would be investigated by the Electoral Commission.[23] Hain admitted "deeply regrettable administrative failings" but faced questioning on whether the oversight was due to changes in campaign manager possibly causing "chaos" during the campaign or the desire of some donors to remain private. Phil Taylor, the first campaign manager, said that Hain insisted on knowing who had donated and that it was legal. His campaign only reported a separate £82,000 of donations though there was no evidence that he deliberately broke the law. Taylor's successor was Steve Morgan, and it later emerged that four donations were channelled through a non-operating think tank, the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) which may be connected with Morgan, who was named as a donor.[24] On 12 January 2008, Peter Hain released a statement saying that he wanted to get on with his job and it was absurd to think he had deliberately hidden anything.[25] John Underwood, a trustee of the PPF, said that the donations and loans were "entirely permissible", though Hain said he would pay back a £25,000 interest-free loan.

On 24 January 2008, Peter Hain resigned from several posts including his position as Work and Pensions Secretary, after the Electoral Commission referred the failure to report donations to the Metropolitan Police. Hain cited a desire to "clear his name" as the reason for his resignation. Peter Hain was the first person to resign from Gordon Brown's cabinet. He was replaced as Secretary of State for Wales by Paul Murphy, and as Secretary for Work and Pensions by James Purnell in a forced cabinet reshuffle.[26]

Peter Hain's campaign reportedly failed to declare £103,156 of donations, contrary to electoral law.[27] On 3 July 2008, the Metropolitan Police announced that they had referred Peter Hain's case to the Crown Prosecution Service.[28] On 5 December 2008 the CPS announced that Hain would not be charged because Hain did not control the members' association Hain4Labour that funded his campaign.[29][30]

Alleged contempt of court

On 27 March 2012, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland John Larkin QC obtained leave from Lord Justice Higgins to bring proceedings against Peter Hain and "Biteback Publishing" for contempt of court.[31] Although Hain's book Outside In had already been passed by the Cabinet Office and the Northern Ireland Office prior to publication, the alleged contempt related to statements about Lord Justice Girvan's disposal of an application for judicial review while Hain was Secretary of State.[32][33] Hain's remarks had previously been strongly criticised by the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Sir Declan Morgan though the decision to charge Hain with "scandalising the court", using a law already obsolete in 1899 drew ridicule in Westminster and strong criticism from senior DUP ministers.[34] According to the Attorney General, Hain's statements prejudiced the administration of justice and amounted to an unjustifiable attack on the judiciary.[35] At a preliminary hearing before a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice on 24 April 2012, Hain's counsel suggested that the action had no basis in common law and was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The trial was intended to take place on 19 June 2012[36][37] but the case was dropped on 17 May 2012 after Hain agreed to clarify comments to show he didn't question Lord Justice Girvan's motives or his handling of the judicial review.[38]

No 'Bloody Sunday' prosecutions

In March 2014, the former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said that British soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday killings should not be prosecuted. Fourteen civilians died after soldiers opened fire at a civil rights march in Londonderry in 1972. Mr Hain's comments follow the news that 187 republican paramilitary suspects - including John Downey whose case at the Old Bailey was dropped on 26 February 2014 - received letters assuring them they were not being sought by police. In relation to the letters, Mr Hain said:

"There was nothing furtive or sordid, it did not involved an immunity, it did not involve a get out of jail free card, it did not involve an amnesty."

Northern Ireland's justice minister criticised Mr Hain's comments. Peter Hain said a balanced approach was needed to the issue:

"If the job it seems to me of politicians and political leadership is to say we need to look to the future and if you're going to do that and if you have, as has been the case, addressed the question of former terrorists involved in activity, then it should apply even-handedly right across the board to members of the British security forces as well."

However, Northern Ireland's Justice Minister David Ford said:

"It almost looks like Peter Hain, having played a part in one sort of pseudo amnesty, is now suggesting another kind of amnesty to try and ingratiate himself with different people in the community."[39]

Business interests

The renewed campaign for construction of the Severn Barrage was led by Peter Hain in 2012.[40]

Alternative medicine

He is a member of the Advisory Council for the College of Medicine,[41] an alternative medicine lobbying organisation set up following the disbanding of Prince Charles' Foundation for Integrated Health in the wake of a fraud investigation. Describing its mission as "to take forward the vision of HRH the Prince of Wales" and originally called "The College of Integrated Health," several commentators, writing in The Guardian, the British Medical Journal and in the blogosphere, claim that this organisation is simply a re-branding of the controversial Foundation.[42][43] The College which continues to act as an alternative medicine lobby group has been referred to as "Hamlet without the Prince."[44][45]

Personal life

Peter Hain lives in Resolven in the Neath Valley. He married his first wife Patricia Western in 1975, and they have two sons. In June 2003, he married his second wife, executive recruitment consultant Elizabeth Haywood, in Neath Registry Office.[46]


  • Don't Play with Apartheid: Background to the Stop the Seventy Tour Campaign by Peter Hain, 1971, Allen & Unwin ISBN 978-0043010310
  • Radical Liberalism and Youth Politics by Peter Hain, 1973, Liberal Publications Department ISBN 0-900520-36-1
  • Radical Regeneration by Peter Hain, 1975, Quartet Books ISBN 0-7043-1231-X
  • Community Politics Edited by Peter Hain, 1976, Calder Publications Ltd ISBN 0-7145-3543-5
  • Mistaken Identity: The Wrong Face of the Law by Peter Hain, 1976, Quartet Books ISBN 0-7043-3116-0
  • Radicals and Socialism by Peter Hain and Simon Hebditch, 1978, Institute for Workers' Control ISBN 0-901740-55-1
  • Policing the Police Edited by Peter Hain, 1979, J Calder ISBN 0-7145-3624-5
  • Debate of the Decade: The Crisis and Future of the Left edited by Peter Hain, 1980, Pluto Press ISBN 0-86104-313-8
  • Neighbourhood Participation by Peter Hain, 1980, M. T. Smith ISBN 0-85117-198-2
  • Policing the Police Edited by Peter Hain, 1980, J Calder ISBN 0-7145-3796-9
  • Reviving the Labour Party by Peter Hain, 1980, Institute for Workers' Control ISBN 0-901740-69-1
  • The Democratic Alternative: A Socialist Response to Britain's Crisis by Peter Hain, 1983, Penguin Books Ltd ISBN 0-14-006955-0
  • Political Trials in Britain by Peter Hain, 1985, Penguin Books Ltd ISBN 0-14-007935-1
  • Political Strikes: The State and Trade Unionism in Britain by Peter Hain, 1986, Penguin Books Ltd ISBN 0-14-007962-9
  • Proportional Misrepresentation by Peter Hain, 1986, Gower Publishing Ltd ISBN 0-7045-0526-6
  • A Putney Plot? by Peter Hain, 1987, Spokesman Books ISBN 0-85124-481-5
  • Ayes to the Left by Peter Hain, 1995, Lawrence & Wishart Ltd ISBN 0-85315-832-0
  • The Peking Connection by Peter Hain, 1995, Lawrence & Wishart Ltd ISBN 0-85315-823-1
  • Sing the Beloved Country: Struggle for the New South Africa by Peter Hain, 1996, Pluto Press ISBN 0-7453-0997-6
  • The End of Foreign Policy? by Robin Cook and Peter Hain, 2001, Royal Institute of International Affairs ISBN 1-86203-131-2
  • New Designs for Europe by Katinkya Barysch, Steven Everts, Heather Grabbe et al., introduction by Peter Hain, 2002, Centre for European Reform ISBN 1-901229-35-1
  • The Future Party by Peter Hain and Ian McCartney, 2004, Catalyst Press ISBN 1-904508-10-3
  • Outside in (autobiography), Biteback (23 January 2012), ISBN 978-1-84954-118-3

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  1. "Peter Hain quits: Ex-Wales and Northern Ireland secretary leaves shadow cabinet"
  2. "Nelson Mandela and the Anti-Apartheid Movement"
  3. "Nelson Mandela memorial service held at Westminster Abbey"
  4. "We did what we had to. We couldn't walk away"
  5. "Peter Hain's biography"
  6. "Profile: Peter Hain"
  7. "Has Hain’s activist past helped save his job?"
  8. "UK General Election results June 1983"
  9. "UK General Election results June 1987"
  10. "Peter Hain: Electoral history and profile"
  11. "Hain in The Times"
  12. "Mugabe on the BBC"
  13. "Gibraltar agreement draws closer", Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 30 June 2002
  14. "Conduct unbecoming any Minister of the Crown"
  15. "Michael Ancram denounces sell out"
  16. "Gibraltar to hold poll on British 'sell-out'"
  17. "Gibraltar accuses UK of preparing 'sell-out' to Spain"
  18. "Fears of Gibraltar 'sell-out'"
  19. "A passionate man pays the price of a chaotic campaign"
  20. "MONEY BOX transcript page 4"
  21. "Deputy leader interviews: Peter Hain"
  22. "Harman elected as Deputy Leader"
  23. "Hain failed to declare £100,000 of donations"
  24. "FactCheck: Is Hain's 'think tank' for real?"
  25. "Defiant Hain 'to get on with job'"
  26. "Hain quits jobs 'to clear name'"
  27. "Financial Times, 14 January 2008"
  28. "Hain donations file handed to CPS"
  29. "CPS decides no charges for Peter Hain MP"
  30. "Hain not charged over donations"
  31. "Attorney General obtains leave to bring contempt proceedings against Peter Hain MP", (27 March 2012)
  32. "Peter Hain faces contempt of court charge over book", BBC News Online, (27 March 2012)
  33. "Peter Hain prosecution: silliness in court", The Guardian, (22 April 2012)
  34. "Hain contempt case to be heard in court", NewsLetter, (24 April 2012)
  35. "Contempt case against Peter Hain to begin in Belfast", BBC News Online, (24 April 2012)
  36. Press Association, "Peter Hain faces contempt case over book's criticism of judge", The Guardian, (27 March 2012)
  37. BBC News, "Peter Hain's lawyer questions if legal action lawful", BBC News Online, (24 April 2012)
  38. "Contempt case against Peter Hain MP dropped"
  39. "Peter Hain: Bloody Sunday soldiers should not be prosecuted"
  40. "Barrage bid to be looked at – again"
  41. "Profile on College of Medicine site"
  42. "Don’t be deceived. The new 'College of Medicine' is a fraud and delusion"
  43. "College of Medicine born from ashes of Prince Charles's holistic health charity"
  44. "Hamlet without the Prince"
  45. "Buckinghamgate: the new 'College of Medicine' arising from the ashes of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health"
  46. "Peter Hain remarries"

External links

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