Richard Shepherd

Sir Richard Charles Scrimgeour Shepherd (born 6 December 1942) is a Conservative politician in the United Kingdom. He was Member of Parliament for the constituency of Aldridge-Brownhills from 1979 to 2015.

Richard Shepherd
Richard Shepherd photographed in September 2007
Member of Parliament
for Aldridge-Brownhills
In office
3 May 1979  30 March 2015
Preceded byGeoff Edge
Succeeded byWendy Morton
Personal details
Born (1942-12-06) 6 December 1942 (age 78)
Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Political partyConservative
Alma materLondon School of Economics (BSc),
Johns Hopkins University (MSc)

A Eurosceptic, Shepherd was one of the Maastricht Rebels that had the whip withdrawn over opposition to John Major's legislation on the European Union. Shepherd is also a libertarian,[1] and had a three line whip imposed against him by Margaret Thatcher when he introduced an amendment loosening the Official Secrets Act 1911.

Early life

Shepherd was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and educated at Isleworth Grammar School (now Isleworth and Syon School) in Isleworth. He then went on to the London School of Economics where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, and where he studied with and became a friend of Robert Kilroy-Silk. At the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Shepherd graduated as a Master of Science in Economics.

Shepherd was a director of the retail food businesses Partridges[2] of Sloane Street and Shepherd Foods in London. He was then an underwriter at Lloyd's of London from 1974–94.

Parliamentary career

Shepherd contested the constituency of Nottingham East in February 1974, where he was defeated by the Labour Party candidate Jack Dunnett. In the 1970s he was also an assistant to Teddy Taylor.

Shepherd was elected Member of Parliament for Aldridge-Brownhills in 1979. He was selected as 'Backbencher of the Year' in 1985 and the Spectator's 'Parliamentarian of the Year' in 1995. In 1989, he was identified by a Mori poll of his fellow MPs to be one of the ten most effective MPs currently sitting in Parliament.

One of the most significant events in Shepherd's career came in 1988 when he introduced his Protection of Official Information Bill,[3] which was to replace parts of the Official Secrets Act 1911, with intent to provide limited protection to some whistleblowers. The government introduced a three line whip which called on its MPs to vote against the bill, even though it was introduced by a member of their own party. This brought considerable debate at the time both in parliament and in the media. The bill was defeated. However Shepherd successfully introduced similar provisions into law in 1998.

Shepherd was one of the Maastricht Rebels, and is known to have libertarian leanings. He had close links to fellow Maastricht rebels Nicholas Budgen and Christopher Gill, even giving the eulogy at Budgen's funeral at Lichfield Cathedral.

Shepherd was a strong advocate of Parliament's power to hold the government to account.[4] Shepherd stood to be Speaker of the House of Commons in 2000, and won 136 votes: the third-closest to defeating Michael Martin of eleven opponents. When Martin was forced resign, in 2009, he stood for the position again. An outsider, at 14/1,[4] he won only 15 votes, and was eliminated on the first ballot.[5]

Shepherd was rated as one of the Conservatives' most rebellious MPs.[6]

Shepherd was knighted in the 2013 New Year Honours for public service.[7]

Shepherd retired from Parliament at the 2015 general election.[8]

Personal life

Shepherd is single. He has served as President of Walsall Football Club.


  1. "Time to stand up and be counted?". BBC News. 1 December 1998.
  2. "Partridges". Partridges. 15 December 1975. Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  3. "Whistleblowing". Archived from the original on 10 April 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  4. Sparrow, Andrew; Owen, Paul (19 May 2009). "Who will be the next Speaker?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  5. Prince, Rosa (22 June 2009). "Speaker election: candidate pitches and reaction". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 December 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  6. in Rebellions (15 December 2010). "Philip Hollobone continues to top the league table of backbench rebels Tory MPs". Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  7. "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 1.
  8. Walsall Advertiser. "MP for Aldridge-Brownhills, Sir Richard Shepherd, to step down at next election after 35 years' service". Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.