Roger Knapman

Roger Maurice Knapman (born 20 February 1944 in Crediton, Devon) is a British politician who served as a Conservative MP before becoming Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Roger Knapman
Leader of the UK Independence Party
In office
5 October 2002  27 September 2006
DeputyMike Nattrass
ChairmanDavid Lott
Petrina Holdsworth
David Campbell Bannerman
Preceded byJeffrey Titford
Succeeded byNigel Farage
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
23 July 1996  1 May 1997
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded bySimon Burns
Succeeded byBob Ainsworth
Member of the European Parliament
for South West England & Gibraltar
In office
10 July 2004  4 June 2009
Preceded byThe Earl of Stockton
Succeeded byThe Earl of Dartmouth
Member of Parliament
for Stroud
In office
11 June 1987  8 April 1997
Preceded bySir Anthony Kershaw
Succeeded byDavid Drew
Personal details
Born (1944-02-20) 20 February 1944 (age 77)
Crediton, Devon, United Kingdom
Political partyUKIP (Since 1997)
Conservative (Before 1997)
Spouse(s)Carolyn Knapman [1]
ResidenceUnited Kingdom
Alma materRoyal Agricultural College

Early life

The son of Harry Arthur Blackmore Knapman, a farmer, and Joan Margot née Densham,[2] Roger Knapman was educated at Allhallows School, Lyme Regis, and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. Before entering politics, he was a Chartered Surveyor and partner with West Country, a firm of livestock auctioneers and surveyors, 1963–77. He was then a Chartered Surveyor in his own right 1978–85.[3]

Parliamentary career

As a member of the Conservative Party, Knapman was elected MP for Stroud in 1987, and was Vice-Chairman of the Conservative European Affairs Committee.[4] Between 1990 and 1992, he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the armed forces minister, Archie Hamilton. In this capacity he joined the Conservative Monday Club's Foreign Affairs Committee Delegation to the Croatian Government in October 1991 to observe their war of independence against Serbia. He resigned from his government position in order to oppose the Maastricht Treaty. He successfully defended his seat in the 1992 general election. In 1995 he became a government whip. In 1997, however, he lost his seat to the Labour candidate, David Drew.


Shortly afterwards, Knapman left the Conservative party to join UKIP. He stood as their candidate in the 2001 general election for North Devon, coming fourth yet narrowly retaining his deposit.

From 2000, he was UKIP's political advisor, and in 2002 he was elected unopposed as party leader. In 2004 he was elected a Member of the European Parliament for the South West England constituency. As leader of the only British party in the European Parliament to vote against the expansion of the EU in 2004 (and publicly opposing immigration), there was some amusement in May 2006 when it was revealed that he had employed a team of Polish builders to renovate his Grade II listed home in Devon, claiming there were no suitable local workers – a claim denied by local builders.

He contested Totnes at the 2005 general election, coming 4th with 7.7% of the vote.

In 2006, he announced that he had no intention of seeking re-election as party leader; the leadership contest was won in September of that year by Nigel Farage MEP. Knapman was the only leader of UKIP to have succeeded in completing a full four-year term until Farage did so in 2014 after returning to the role in 2010.


  1. Culture (3 May 2005). "A quiet life on the fringes of power". Telegraph. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  2. She died before 1991.
  3. Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1991, 159th Year, 172nd edition, Hurst Green, Sussex, p.502. ISBN 0-905702-17-4
  4. Dod's 1991, p.502.