Michael Fallon

Sir Michael Cathel Fallon KCB (born 14 May 1952) is a British politician who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 2014 to 2017. A member of the Conservative Party, Fallon served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sevenoaks from 1997 to 2019, having previously served as the MP for Darlington from 1983 to 1992.

Sir Michael Fallon

Fallon in 2017
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
15 July 2014  1 November 2017
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byPhilip Hammond
Succeeded byGavin Williamson
Minister for Portsmouth
In office
16 January 2014  15 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMatt Hancock
Minister of State for Energy
In office
28 March 2013  15 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJohn Hayes
Succeeded byMatt Hancock
Minister of State for Business and Enterprise
In office
4 September 2012  15 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byMark Prisk
Succeeded byMatt Hancock
Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
4 September 2010  4 September 2012
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byThe Lord Ashcroft
Succeeded bySarah Newton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education
In office
24 July 1990  14 April 1992
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded byRobert Jackson
Succeeded byEric Forth
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
10 May 1990  22 July 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byStephen Dorrell
Succeeded byGreg Knight
Member of Parliament
for Sevenoaks
In office
1 May 1997  6 November 2019
Preceded byMark Wolfson
Succeeded byLaura Trott
Member of Parliament
for Darlington
In office
9 June 1983  16 March 1992
Preceded byOssie O'Brien
Succeeded byAlan Milburn
Personal details
Michael Cathel Fallon

(1952-05-14) 14 May 1952 (age 69)
Perth, Perthshire, Scotland
Political partyConservative
Wendy Elisabeth Payne
(m. 1986)
ResidenceSundridge, Kent, England
Alma materUniversity of St Andrews

Fallon served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party from 2010 to 2012 and Minister of State for Business and Enterprise from 2012 to 2014. He served as Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2013 to 2014 and Minister of State for Portsmouth in 2014, before serving as Defence Secretary under David Cameron and Theresa May. He resigned after being implicated in the 2017 Westminster sexual misconduct allegations.

Early life and career

Fallon was born in Perth, Scotland. His father was an Irish-born surgeon, Dr Martin Fallon, who was educated in Dublin and became a high-ranking medical officer in the British Army. Dr Fallon received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the wounded including at Arnhem.[1] Michael Fallon was educated at Craigflower Preparatory School near Dunfermline and at Epsom College, an independent boys' school in Surrey. He then read Classics and Ancient History at the University of St Andrews, graduating in 1974 with a Master of Arts (MA Hons) degree, the equivalent of a BA at the oldest Scottish universities.

As a student, Fallon was active in the European Movement and the "Yes" youth campaign in the 1975 referendum. After university he joined the Conservative Research Department, working first for Lord Carrington in the House of Lords until 1977 and then as European Desk Officer until 1979. He became Research Assistant to Baroness Elles in 1979, around the time that she became an MEP.

Parliamentary career

He was selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Darlington in July 1982, and fought the Darlington by-election on 24 March 1983, which was held after the Labour MP Ted Fletcher had died. Although Fallon lost to Labour's Ossie O'Brien by 2,412 votes, he defeated O'Brien 77 days later by 3,438 votes in the 1983 general election. He remained MP for Darlington until the 1992 general election, when he lost to Labour's Alan Milburn by a margin of 2,798 votes.

He re-entered Parliament at the 1997 general election, holding the safe Conservative constituency of Sevenoaks following the retirement of the sitting Tory MP, Mark Wolfson.

Fallon was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Energy Cecil Parkinson following the 1987 general election, and in 1988 joined the government of Margaret Thatcher as an Assistant Whip, becoming a Lord Commissioner to the Treasury in 1990. Fallon, alongside Michael Portillo and Michael Forsyth, visited Thatcher on the eve of her resignation in a last-ditch and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to persuade her to reconsider her decision.[2]

Junior Minister in the Department for Education and Science

Thatcher appointed Fallon Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Education and Science in July 1990, a position he continued to hold under the new premiership of John Major. In this office Fallon headed legislation that led to the local management of schools,[3] which among other changes gave schools a greater degree of financial independence, including control of their own bank accounts and cheque books.[4] He remained in that office until his 1992 general election defeat.

Return to the House of Commons

Following his return to Parliament in 1997, he was appointed Opposition Spokesman for Trade and Industry and then Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, but he resigned from the frontbench owing to ill health in October 1998, and remained on the backbenches until his promotion as Deputy Chairman of the Party.

From 1999 he was a member of the Treasury Select Committee, and chairman of its Sub-Committee (2001–10). He also served as a 1922 Committee executive between 2005–07.

In September 2012, he was made Privy Councillor[5] upon his appointment as Minister for Business and Enterprise.

Fallon has been a director at Tullett Prebon, a leading brokerage firm in the City of London, and one of the biggest supporters of the privatisation of Royal Mail.[6]

In January 2014, Fallon was appointed Minister for Portsmouth,[7] subsequently being promoted to the Cabinet, on 15 July 2014, as Secretary of State for Defence.

Secretary of State for Defence (2014–2017)

Fallon with U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis, July 2017

In February 2016, the week after a leaked United Nations report had found the Saudi-led coalition guilty of conducting "widespread and systematic" air strikes against civilians in Yemen[8] – including camps for internally displaced people, weddings, schools, hospitals, religious centers, vehicles and markets[9] – and the same day the International Development Select Committee had said that the UK should end all arms exports to Saudi Arabia because of ongoing, large-scale human rights violations by the Kingdom's armed forces in Yemen, Fallon was criticised for attending a £450-a-head dinner for an arms-industry trade-body.[10]

Fallon during the Munich Security Conference in 2016

In December 2016, Fallon admitted that UK-supplied internationally banned cluster munitions had been used in Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign in Yemen.[11]

In April 2017, Fallon confirmed that the UK would use its nuclear weapons in a "pre-emptive initial strike" in "the most extreme circumstances" on BBC Radio's Today programme.[12]

In 2017, Fallon warned that Russia's Zapad 2017 exercise in Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast was "designed to provoke us". Fallon falsely claimed that number of Russian troops taking part in exercise could reach 100,000.[13]

European Union

In an interview in The Daily Telegraph in 2016, before the European Union (EU) membership referendum, Fallon described himself as Eurosceptic and critical of many aspects of the EU, but said that he wanted Britain to remain in the EU, in the face of multiple threats from Russia's president Vladimir Putin, crime, and international terrorism.[14]

Run-up to the 2015 general election

During the run-up to the 2015 general election, Fallon wrote an article in The Times saying that Ed Miliband had stabbed his brother David Miliband in the back to become Labour leader and he would also stab Britain in the back to become prime minister. Fallon subsequently declined the opportunity to describe Miliband as a decent person and his comments embarrassed some Conservative supporters. Miliband gave a response, saying that Fallon had fallen below his usual standards and demeaned himself, which the New Statesman asserted was dignified, contrasting with Fallon's counter-productive personal attack.[15]

Expenses scandal

According to The Daily Telegraph Fallon, Deputy Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, claimed for mortgage repayments on his Westminster flat in their entirety. MPs are only allowed to claim for interest charges.[16]

Between 2002 and 2004, Fallon regularly claimed £1,255 per month in capital repayments and interest, rather than the £700–£800 for the interest component alone.[16] After his error was noticed by staff at the Commons Fees Office in September 2004, he asked: "Why has no one brought this to my attention before?" [16] He repaid £2,200 of this over-claim, but was allowed to offset the remaining £6,100 against his allowance. After realising they had failed to notice the excessive claims, Commons staff reportedly suggested Fallon submit fresh claims which would "reassign" the surplus payments to other costs he had legitimately incurred.[16]

Allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviour and resignation

In late October 2017 it was reported that Fallon had repeatedly and inappropriately touched journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer's knee during a dinner in 2002.[17] Hartley-Brewer recalled that after Fallon kept putting his hand on her knee, she "calmly and politely explained to him, that if he did it again, I would punch him in the face".[18] Fallon resigned two days later believing his "previous conduct" towards women had "fallen below" what is acceptable.[19] Hartley-Brewer expressed shock at the resignation, saying: "I didn't feel it was something that needed any further dealing with".[20]

It was subsequently reported Fallon had been forced to resign in part due to an allegation of inappropriate and lewd comments towards fellow Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom when they both sat on the Treasury Select Committee. He was also accused of making comments of a sexual nature about other MPs on the committee and members of the public who attended hearings.[21] The former political editor of The Independent on Sunday, Jane Merrick, said in The Observer in early November 2017 that Fallon was the previously unnamed Conservative MP who had "lunged" at her a decade and a half earlier. She had contacted Downing Street about the incident several hours before he resigned.[22] The Observer reported on the same day that "the revelation was the tipping point for No 10, which ... had been compiling a list of alleged incidents involving Fallon since claims against him were first made."[23]

In September 2019, Fallon announced he would not seek re-election at the 2019 United Kingdom general election.[24]

Career outside Parliament

Between 1992 and 1997, Fallon set up a chain of children's nurseries called Just Learning with funding from the British Dragons' Den member Duncan Bannatyne, becoming chief executive.[25]

Personal life

Fallon has been married to Wendy Elisabeth Payne, a HR professional, since 27 September 1986; the couple have two sons.[26][27] The family lives in Sundridge, Kent.

He was banned from driving for 18 months in 1983 after admitting a drink-driving offence during the general election campaign.[28]

Fallon was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) for political and public service as part of the Resignation Honours of the outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron.[29]


  • The Quango Explosion: Public Bodies and Ministerial Patronage by Philip Holland and Michael Fallon, 1978, Conservative Political Centre, ISBN 0-85070-621-1
  • Sovereign Members by Michael Fallon, 1982
  • The Rise of the Euroquango by Michael Fallon, 1982, Adam Smith Institute, ISBN 0-906517-22-2
  • Brighter Schools: Attracting Private Investment into State Schools by Michael Fallon, 1993, Social Market Foundation, ISBN 1-874097-15-1


  1. "Bridge of Sighs – Frank McNally on the contrasting role of two Dubliners in an infamous battle of the second World War". The Irish Times. 17 September 2019.
  2. "Extract from Margaret Thatcher The Downing Street Years", Margaret Thatcher Foundation, London 1993, Retrieved on 18 April 2016
  3. "Secondary Schooling". They Work for You. 9 September 2010. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  4. "Schools: 19 July 1991". They Work for You. 19 July 1991. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  5. Watt, Holly (5 September 2012). "Michael Fallon becomes business minister". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  6. "Debate on Royal Mail Privatisation". TheyWorkForYou. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  7. "Minister for Portsmouth to be Michael Fallon". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  8. MacAskill, Ewen (27 January 2016). "UN report into Saudi-led strikes in Yemen raises questions over UK role". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  9. Gladstone, Rick (31 January 2016). "Saudi Coalition in Yemen Announces Inquiry Into Bombings". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  10. Stone, Jon (3 February 2016). "Ministers wined-and-dined by arms trade hours after MPs demand ban on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia". The Independent. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  11. Cowburn, Ashley (19 December 2016). "British manufactured cluster bombs have been used in Yemen by Saudi Arabia, Michael Fallon admits". The Independent. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  12. Merrick, Rob (24 April 2017). "Theresa May would fire UK's nuclear weapons as a 'first strike', says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 April 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  13. "Russia was the target of Nato's own fake news". The Independent. 22 September 2017. Archived from the original on 30 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  14. "Strength in numbers: Michael Fallon backs staying with Europe". The Daily Telegraph. 20 February 2016. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  15. Eaton, George (9 April 2015). "Michael Fallon's attack backfires, leaving Miliband to emerge as the decent man". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  16. Swaine, Jon (21 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Michael Fallon claimed £8,300 too much in mortgage expenses". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  17. Rayner, Gordon (31 October 2017). "Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon admits touching female radio presenter's knee at a dinner". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  18. "Michael Fallon 'apologised for touching journalist's knee'". BBC News. 31 October 2017.
  19. "Fallon resigns as Defence Secretary over behaviour claims". BBC News. 1 November 2017. Archived from the original on 1 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  20. "Journalist touched on knee by Fallon calls resignation 'insane'". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 23 April 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  21. Watts, Joe (3 November 2017). "Sir Michael Fallon resigned after Andrea Leadsom accused him of sexually inappropriate language". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  22. Merrick, Jane (4 November 2017). "I won't keep my silence: Michael Fallon lunged at me after our lunch". The Observer. Archived from the original on 5 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  23. Doward, Jamie (4 November 2017). "Revealed: Why Michael Fallon was forced to quit as defence secretary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 November 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  24. "Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon is to step down after more than 31 years in Parliament". Kent Live. 4 September 2019. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  25. Holland, Tiffany (14 September 2012). "Profile: Michael Fallon, Minister for business". Retail Week. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  26. Settle, Michael (2 November 2017). "Humiliated Sir Michael Fallon quits as Defence Secretary as sex scandal sweeps Westminster". The Herald. Glasgow. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  27. "Vote 2001 - Michael Fallon". BBC News. Archived from the original on 10 March 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  28. The Guardian, News in Brief, 5 July 1983:
  29. "No. 61678". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 August 2016. p. RH3.