|Leader Michael Howard|
Preceded by Jeremy Hanley
Preceded by Bernard Jenkin
Succeeded by John Reid
|Succeeded by Michael Ancram|
Name Nicholas Soames
Prime Minister John Major
Siblings Rupert Soames
|Role British member of Parliament|
Spouse Serena Smith (m. 1993), Catherine Weatherall (m. 1981)
Parents Christopher Soames, Mary Soames, Baroness Soames
Education Mons Officer Cadet School, Eton College
Cousins Arabella Churchill, Edwina Sandys, Winston Churchill, Celia Sandys, Julian Sandys
Similar People Mary Soames - Baroness, Christopher Soames, Rupert Soames, Emma Soames, Clementine Churchill
Can you hear nicholas soames woof at tasmina ahmed sheikh
Sir Arthur Nicholas Winston Soames, (born 12 February 1948), sometimes known as Nick Soames, is a British Conservative Party politician and member of parliament for the constituency of Mid Sussex. He is a grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.
- Can you hear nicholas soames woof at tasmina ahmed sheikh
- Rt hon sir nicholas soames mp mid sussex conservative 25 feb 2016
- Early life education and military service
- Early career
- Parliamentary career
- Political funding
- Allegations of sexism
- Driving offences
- Personal life
- Titles and styles
Soames was first elected to Parliament in 1983. He was Minister of State for the Armed Forces from 1994 to 1997 in the government of John Major. His main political interests are defence, international relations, rural affairs and industry. He is also chairman of the private security contractor Aegis Defence Services.
Rt hon sir nicholas soames mp mid sussex conservative 25 feb 2016
Early life, education and military service
Soames was born in Croydon and is a grandson of the British wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, the son of Lord and Lady Soames, and a great-nephew of the founders of the Scout movement, Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Baden-Powell. His brother is the industrialist Rupert Soames.
Simon Hoggart, writing in The Guardian, relates an anecdote of Soames' childhood: "He gave me the true version of what I had always suspected was an apocryphal story. In or around 1953, when Soames was five, he didn't know how important his grandfather was until someone told him. So he walked up to the old man's bedroom, managed to get past the valets and the secretaries, and found him sitting up in bed. 'Is it true, grandpapa, that you are the greatest man in the world?' he asked. 'Yes I am,' said Churchill. 'Now bugger off.'"'
After attending St. Aubyns Preparatory School in Sussex, Soames received his secondary education at Eton College. Later he studied at Mons Officer Cadet School before being commissioned into the 11th Hussars on 5 August 1967 on a Short Service Commission before serving in West Germany and Britain with the 11th Hussars and later the Royal Hussars. Soames was transferred to Regular Army Reserve of Officers on 9 March 1970 before resigning his commission on 5 August 1975.
In 1970 he was appointed Equerry to HRH The Prince of Wales; he has remained a close friend of the Prince ever since and publicly criticised Diana, Princess of Wales, during the couple's estrangement. When Diana first accused the Prince of Wales of adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles, Soames told the BBC that the accusation, and Diana's fear of being slandered by her husband's courtiers, stemmed merely from Diana's mental illness, and "the advanced stages of paranoia". Charles later admitted his adultery and Soames apologised. When questioned by the inquest into the death of Diana, Soames said that he saw his job as "to speak up for the Prince of Wales". He denied threatening Diana, and warning her, "accidents happen" in the months before she died.
In 1972 he left Kensington Palace and the army to work as a stockbroker. In 1974, he became a personal assistant; first to Sir James Goldsmith and then in 1976 to United States Senator Mark Hatfield, whose employ he left in 1978 to become a director of Bland Welch, Lloyd's Brokers. Between 1979–81, he was an assistant director of the Sedgwick Group.
Soames fought Central Dunbartonshire in Scotland in 1979, where Labour's Hugh McCartney defeated him by 12,003 votes. He was elected MP at the 1983 general election, winning Crawley. He sat for Crawley until the 1997 general election (when Labour replaced Conservatives in Crawley and in government). In the 1997 election he won the constituency of Mid Sussex and has remained its MP since.
He served as a Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food between 1992 and 1994, as Minister of State for the Armed Forces at the Ministry of Defence under Prime Minister John Major between 1994 and 1997, and later as the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence from 2003 to 2005. He is also the chairman of Framlington Second Dual Trust plc and chairman of Aegis Defence Services.
During the rebellion by eurosceptic Conservative MPs against the Maastricht Treaty, Soames threatened to close down a meat-processing company owned by rebel Conservative MP Christopher Gill. Soames, Minister for Food at the time, reportedly told Gill "I will close every abattoir you own".
On 9 May 2005, shortly after Michael Howard announced his intention to resign as leader of the Conservative Party, Soames resigned from the shadow cabinet. He immediately ended speculation that he intended to stand for the post of leader, saying that he merely wanted to be free to think about, and to influence the future of the party. He added that he was interested in joining the executive of the 1922 Committee. He later announced his support for David Cameron.
In one edition of The Mark Thomas Comedy Product, Mark Thomas investigated the practice of avoiding inheritance tax by declaring art, furniture, homes and land available for public viewing. After discovering that Soames was claiming tax relief on a "three-tier mahogany buffet with partially reeded slender balustrade upright supports" on this basis, but without making any arrangements for the furniture to be inspected by the public, Thomas invented a 'National Soames Day' on which hundreds of people made appointments to see the furniture. Soames subsequently decided to pay the tax on the item and Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, changed the law. In 2015, Thomas told The Independent's Adam Jacques: "I try to find the good in my enemies. It's not unusual to be able to get on with people despite what they are doing being awful. The only person I have met who I considered to be without any redeeming features was […] Nicholas Soames. […] He was such a pantomime baddie."
In November 2010, Soames told The Mail on Sunday newspaper that remarks about a royal wedding made by the Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, were "extremely rude, not what one expects from a bishop."
On 13 July 2011, Soames was sworn of the Privy Council. He was knighted in the 2014 Birthday Honours for political service.
Soames is the Chairman of Aegis Defense Services. The company had a series of contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to provide guards to protect US military bases in Iraq from 2004 onwards. From 2011 the company broadened its recruitment to take in African countries, having previously employed people from the UK, the US and Nepal.
Contract documents say that the soldiers from Sierra Leone were paid $16 (£11) a day. A documentary, The Child Soldier’s New Job, broadcast in Denmark, alleges that the estimated 2,500 Sierra Leonean personnel who were recruited by Aegis and other private security companies to work in Iraq included former child soldiers.
Soames was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.
Mid Sussex Conservative Constituency Association has received over £1 million in donations, with Soames receiving well over £100,000 from private military company Aegis Defence Services Ltd from 2010 onwards. US multinational professional services, risk management and insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc has given Soames £518,069 since 2010 in remunerations for his services as an MP. Soames has also received private donations from a variety of people, including £5,749 from Majlis As Shura, £10,000 from David Rowland, and £20,000 from Ann R. Said.
Allegations of sexism
According to the book Women in Parliament published in 2005, Soames has been named as the 'most sexist' MP, with several female MPs stating that he has made vulgar comments to them. In other accusations of sexual harassment it has been alleged that Soames makes repeated cupping gestures with his hands, suggestive of female breasts, when women are trying to speak in parliament, in order to distract them. He allegedly harassed Alastair Campbell by telephoning him and saying "you sex god, you Adonis, you the greatest of all great men". However, unknown to Soames, he was actually speaking to Campbell's young son.
On 31 January 2017, Soames made 'woofing' noises at Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh when she was asking the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, a question in the House of Commons. Ahmed-Sheikh called a point of order to bring the speaker's attention to the noises. John Bercow, the speaker, described the noises as "discourteous and that expression should not be used", and Soames was asked to apologise. He did so, saying he was only offering her a "friendly canine salute" in reply to her "snapped" question.
On 15 May 2008 Soames pleaded guilty to riding a quad bike on a public road without motor insurance. A photograph of Soames using the vehicle to pull a trailer carrying three children and a pregnant woman was taken from footage filmed by hunt saboteurs in Slaugham, West Sussex, on New Year's Day. It was given to the police and published by the Daily Mirror. Since he had several previous offences on his licence, he was disqualified from driving for two months, fined £200, and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and costs of £35 by Crawley magistrates.
In 2012 he was disqualified from driving for two weeks for speeding at 51 mph in a 30 mph residential area in Handcross. Soames was also fined £666, plus £85 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge. The Argus, a Sussex paper, describes him as an 'anti-speed MP'. According to the Argus, it was 'the third time he has been caught flouting traffic laws in four years'. After the ruling at Mid Sussex Magistrates' Court on 17 October 2012, the Mid Sussex Conservative MP told The Argus: "These things happen. Haven’t you ever gone over the speed limit?" The speeding incident angered Brake, a campaigning road safety charity, which said, "speed limits are in place for everyone’s safety, and it is particularly alarming to see a public figure like Nicholas Soames repeatedly flouting traffic laws and needlessly putting lives at risk. A two-week ban and a £666 fine is simply not enough, and we would like to see courts hand out tougher penalties to traffic offenders in order to create a real deterrent."
He has been married twice. His first marriage (4 June 1981 – 1988) was to Catherine Weatherall (the sister of Isobel Bowes-Lyon, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne). They have one son:
He married, secondly, Serena Smith (a niece of the Duchess of Grafton) on 21 December 1993. They have two children.