|Preceded by New Assembly|
Succeeded by David Jones
Preceded by Sir Anthony Meyer
|Preceded by Nicholas Bennett|
Role British Politician
Preceded by (new post)
Name Rod Richards
|Born 12 March 1947 (age 68)
Llanelli, Wales (1947-03-12) |
Other political affiliations Conservative (until 2013)
Education Aberystwyth University, Swansea University, Llandovery College
Political party UK Independence Party
Roderick Richards (born 12 March 1947) is a British former politician who was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Clwyd North West, in Wales, from 1992 to 1997, when he lost his seat in the Labour Party landslide. He was also the Conservative leader in the National Assembly for Wales in 1999, after being elected as an Assembly Member for North Wales.
Richards was born in Llanelli to the late Ivor George Richards and Lizzie Jane Richards (née Evans). Welsh speaking Richards was educated at Llandovery College and at Swansea University where he gained a first Class honours degree in economics and statistics. He first rose to public prominence in the 1980s as a Welsh-language newsreader for BBC Wales. Before that, he had spent some time in the Royal Marines, including service in Northern Ireland. He also served on the intelligence staff of the Ministry of Defence, and worked as an economic forecaster. Richards, at one point, worked for MI-6
He first tried to enter parliament at the 1987 general election, when he stood unsuccessfully for the Carmarthen seat, giving up his job with the BBC to do so. He was unsuccessful again two years later at a by-election for the Vale of Glamorgan, again giving up his work as a broadcaster: but at the 1992 general election he was elected as MP for the former parliamentary seat of Clwyd North West. During John Major's government he was appointed Parliamentar Private Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1993 and Welsh Office junior minister in 1994, but was forced to resign in 1996 when revelations about his private life appeared in a Sunday tabloid newspaper.
National Assembly for Wales
Although defeated in his constituency seat during the first Welsh Assembly elections in 1999, he was elected to the new body as lead candidate on the Conservatives' regional top-up list. He was elected the Conservative party leader in the Welsh Assembly in a ballot of Welsh party members defeating Nick Bourne, who was then widely known in the media to be William Hague's first choice for the job. Richards stood down as leader after he was accused of assaulting a young woman. Bourne was then appointed leader by Hague. Richards was cleared of assault in June 2000.
Rod Richards had the party whip withdrawn from him following his decision to abstain rather than vote with his fellow Conservatives against the Assembly's budget at the end of 1999. He continued to sit in the Assembly, as an 'Independent Conservative' until 2002 when he resigned as an Assembly Member (AM), saying he was leaving the assembly immediately in the interests of his health.
Richards and his successor, Nick Bourne were known for hating one another. In one interview, Richards said he would consider opposing Bourne if the latter stood for Police Commissioner. When Bourne lost his seat in the 2011 Assembly election, Rod Richards was quoted in the Western Mail saying "it has been a great week, bin Laden on Sunday Bourne on Friday (Osama bin Laden had been killed by American special forces in the days before polling day).
Once Bourne had been appointed party leader by William Hague, he refused to give Richards a portfolio in his 25 August reshuffle, leaving him as the only Welsh Tory backbencher. Richards stated the following: On the Welsh: "We are perfectly happy to continue to promote the Welsh language. But we will not discriminate against those Welsh people who don't speak Welsh, or indeed anyone else who comes to live in Wales."
On Plaid Cymru: "They are an anti-British party. They reject everything that is British: our history, our values, our great achievements, our language, indeed the very existence of our British family. "They want Wales out of the United Kingdom and into a federal European state. They want separation from England so that Wales can be ruled by Brussels."
Defection to UKIP
In July 2013, Richards defected to UKIP, after becoming "disillusioned with mainstream parties". He refused to be drawn on whether he wanted to seek UKIP's candidacy in the 2014 European Parliament election. Its then current MEP for Wales, John Bufton, stood down in June 2014, being replaced by Nathan Gill.
It was reported on 17 April 2008 that Richards had been arrested in connection with an alleged assault on a Conservative party worker. He was later released after receiving a caution from police. Richards became angry when the councillor, who was canvassing door-to-door, told him he hadn't been sent promotional literature as he was already listed as a prominent party member. When later asked about the incident, Richards said that he gave the young councillor, who was "half his age and twice his size", a "clip around the ear" for "being cheeky".
Richards was married to a psychologist, Liz, until their divorce, upon her discovering of his affair. The couple have three children.