|Spouse(s) Penelope Ann Bennett|
|Name Andrew Baron|
|Occupation British solicitor and politician|
Education Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Political party Liberal Democrats
Andrew Wyndham Phillips, Baron Phillips of Sudbury, OBE (born 15 March 1939) is a solicitor and Liberal Democrat politician.
- Education and law practice
- Charity work
- Political work and House of Lords
- Views on Israel
- Family life
Education and law practice
He attended Culford School, Uppingham School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he read Economics and Law, then became a solicitor in 1964, eventually specialising in charity law. In 1970 he founded commercial law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite.
From 1976, he appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Jimmy Young Show as the “legal eagle,” giving legal advice to the show’s listeners. He continued in this role until the show ended upon Sir Jimmy’s retirement in 2002. Phillips has also appeared on other television and radio programmes such as Any Questions? and Newsnight. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1996 New Year Honours.
Phillips was appointed Chancellor of the University of Essex on 28 April 2003, succeeding Lord Nolan who had retired on 31 December 2002. He retired from the position in July 2013.
Phillips was co-founder and first chairman of the Legal Action Group in 1971, and also in the same year co-founded the The Parlex Group of trans-Europe lawyers. He co-founded the Solicitors Pro Bono Group (LawWorks) in 1996, becoming President.
Phillips was a member of first board of the Community Fund, distributing National Lottery funds. From 1992 to 2002 he was a member of Scott Trust, which owned The Guardian and other media.
Following his frustrations of people's lack of knowledge about their rights and responsibilities as citizens, Phillips secured funding from The Law Society to set up the Law in Education Project in 1985, to create educational resources for schools. In 1989, the Citizenship Foundation was founded out of this project. Phillips remains President of the Citizenship Foundation.
Political work and House of Lords
He was originally a member of the Labour Party, standing for parliament in Harwich in 1970, but he defected to the Liberals in the early 1970s, and later stood as a Liberal candidate in Saffron Walden in both a 1977 by-election and the 1979 general election, and later stood as a Liberal in Gainsborough and Horncastle in 1983.
On 25 July 1998, Phillips was made a life peer as Baron Phillips of Sudbury, of Sudbury in the County of Suffolk. He sat in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat, and spoke on issues concerning civil liberties. He led the Liberal Democrats’ opposition in the Lords to the government’s identity card and counter-terrorism legislation.
In July 2006, to the surprise of many people, Lord Phillips of Sudbury announced his intention to resign from the House of Lords at the age of 67 (the average age of members being 68). He criticised the “cascades” of legislation that the Labour government had introduced:“It is seriously counter-productive. No society can absorb a net increase of statute law of eight or nine thousand pages a year.”
He said he would pursue other interests, and would no longer be just a “weekend husband” to his wife.
He had wanted to vacate his seat in the House of Lords, revert to being known as Mr Phillips, and allow “new blood” from his party to take his seat. However, although hereditary peers may disclaim their titles under the Peerage Act 1963, life peers are unable to renounce their titles, and continue to hold them for life. Therefore, Phillips took leave of absence from the House, meaning he was unable to attend or vote, but could return at a month’s notice. There was not automatically a seat for a new Liberal Democrat peer in the House.
In 2009, Phillips's leave of absence ended, and he has since begun to attend and speak in the House of Lords again. With the introduction of The House of Lords Reform Act in 2014, which allows life peers to resign from the House, Phillips finally resigned on 7 May 2015, the day of the General Election.
Views on Israel
Phillips states that he is a supporter of Israel, and offered to fight for Israel in the 1973 Arab–Israeli War. But visiting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza for the first time in 2001, and a number of times since, has altered his view. He believes Israel's controls on Gaza are contrary to international law and simple morality, and that international action on the Gaza situation is in the interests of Israel. Phillips has called for economic and cultural sanctions on Israel.
Jewish Chronicle articles have been critical of Phillips views, suggesting that he is being critical of Jews as well as of Israel.
Andrew Phillips married Penelope Ann Bennett in 1968. They have a son and two daughters. He lists among his recreational interests theatre, local history (especially of Suffolk), arts, architecture (especially parish churches), golf, walking and reading.