John Reid

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Dr John Reid became the British Home Secretary in May 2006.[1] He is a Labour MP for the Airdrie & Shotts constituency.[1] His wife is Carine Adler.


  • 1947: Born in Scotland.[2]
  • Coatbridge school.[2]
  • Stirling University: BA History, PhD Economic History.[2]
  • 1979-1983: Research officer for the Labour Party.[2]
  • 1983-1985: Political adviser to Neil Kinnock.[2]
  • 1986-1987: Labour organiser for Scottish Trade Unionists.[2]
  • May 1999-Jan 2001: Secretary of State, Scottish Office.[1]
  • Jan 2001-Oct 2002: Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office.[1]
  • Oct 2002-April 2003: Minister without Portfolio.[1]
  • April 2003-June 2003: Lord Privy Seal.[1]
  • June 2003-May 2005: Secretary of State, Department of Health.[1]
  • May 2005: Appointed Secretary of State for Defence.[2]
  • May 2006: Appointed Home Secretary.[2]

Reid and the war in Bosnia

The Hotel Richemond trip

In August 1993,[3] Reid (at that time a shadow defence minister) and shadow defence secretary, Dr David Clark met Bosnian Serb leader Dr Radovan Karadzic at the Hotel Richemond in Geneva.

Keeping it in the family part 1: Lobbygate

In 1999, Reid's son Kevin, who was at that time a lobbyist for Beattie Media, was exposed by a sting operation by The Observer as being engaged in influence peddling:[4]

"The young lobbyist was struggling to impress a potential client. He grinned, then played his ace: 'I know the Secretary of State very, very well, because he's my father.' The father is John Reid, Secretary of State for Scotland, one of the Prime Minister's closest allies and the man widely tipped to succeed George Robertson as Defence Secretary. The son is 24-year-old Kevin Reid, a former Labour Party helper who is now a key player in a New Labour lobbying firm peddling claims of influence and access to Ministers.
"Kevin Reid and Beattie Media director Alex Barr met 'Anthony James', an Observer reporter posing as a businessman, earlier this month. 'James' said he represented US investors who hoped to land lucrative government contracts to finance new schools and hospitals. The meeting, at Edinburgh's Balmoral hotel, was secretly taped and filmed."

Kevin Reid resigned from Beattie Media a couple of months after the scandal broke.[5]

Keeping it in the family part 2: Using public money to pay his son for campaign work

In January 2000, The Observer revealed that Reid had

"...used public money from his Westminster allowances to help finance Labour's Scottish election campaign. Among those who benefited from the arrangement was his son, Kevin Reid, who was put on the Labour Party election campaign payroll. A number of campaigners were paid by Reid, a key ally of the Prime Minister, and by Glasgow MP John Maxton. They were listed as House of Commons researchers while they were actually working as full-time election workers in the party's Scottish headquarters."[6]

This was despite the fact that, according to The Observer, "MPs' allowances are governed by strict regulations which state they must be 'wholly, exclusively and necessarily' incurred in connection with a MP's parliamentary activities."[6]

Guilty, says the independent commissioner. Not guilty, says the Labour-chaired committee

Reid and Maxton were eventually exonerated by the Committee on Standards and Privileges, under controversial circumstances:

"The committee's conclusions were simply put. There was not enough evidence to find [Reid and Maxton] guilty of breaking parliamentary rules on the payment of staff."[7]

The committee's verdict flatly contradicted the findings of Elizabeth Filkin, the then Commissioner for Standards:

"She had investigated the allegations against Reid and Maxton and come to a very different conclusion. Public money given to the two men had been used to pay for staff who were actually campaigning for the Labour Party, something which is against the strict rules governing the financing of MPs' offices. Reid and Maxton had broken the rules, Filkin wrote in her report to the committee."[7]

John Reid's "threats of a particularly disturbing kind"

Filkin also condemned Reid for having contacted Alex Rowley, the general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party from 1998-1999. Rowley was a key witness in the inquiry.

"Shortly after Filkin started her investigation, John Reid had contacted Rowley and 'made threats of a particularly disturbing kind', Filkin wrote in her report to the committee. Reid had told Rowley that if he continued to give evidence that suggested wrong-doing he could 'face criminal prosecution and risk not being adopted by the party as a parliamentary candidate'. Rowley was so worried about what Reid was saying, he taped their next conversation. It was a tense chat. During it, Reid said to Rowley: 'You don't have to tell any lies. Do you know what I mean?', later adding: 'They cannot prove anything, Alex.'"[7]

Another run-in with a parliamentary watchdog

In 2004, Reid was censured by another parliamentary watchdog, the parliamentary ombudsman Ann Abraham, for his department's delaying tactics over a particularly sensitive Freedom of Information Act (UK) request. At the time, Reid was Secretary of State for Health. The request was about the way that Powderject, owned by Labour Party donor Lord Drayson, obtained a UK government contract to supply smallpox vaccine.[8]

"Most slippery" politician

A study in early 2007 found that Reid is an evasive interviewee:

"Mr Reid failed to answer 44 per cent of questions put to him, compared to 42 per cent for Mr Blair... A team led by Prof Geoff Beattie, the resident psychologist on Channel 4's Big Brother, reviewed every political television interview by Britain's 10 highest-profile MPs over three weeks and analysed responses."[9]

Aide to Reid accused of leaking advance details of counter-terrorist operations

In April 2007, The Guardian alleged that an aide to Reid was involved in briefing the media in advance about "...a series of raids which led to nine arrests across Birmingham in February. Six men were subsequently charged with a number of terrorist offences... A senior Whitehall official told reporters from two tabloids that a number of Muslim soldiers had agreed to act as bait in an attempt to trap the plotters. The Guardian has been told by a well-placed source that this information - which later proved to be inaccurate - came from one of Mr Reid's officials."[10]

SourceWatch resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Profile of John Reid on
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Profile on Number 10 Downing Street website
  3. Stephen Breen, "Ministers escape censure on expenses", The Scotsman, June 30, 1997. Available via Lexis-Nexis.
  4. Dean Nelson and Ben Laurance, "How Scotland's lobbygate was exposed", The Observer, September 26, 1999.
  5. "Reid quits PR job", BBC News, 19 November, 1999.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dean Nelson, "Reid in poll cash scandal", The Guardian, January 23, 2000.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Kamal Ahmed, "Friends in high places: A damning report into two senior Labour officials has been shelved - by Labour", The Observer, December 24, 2000.
  8. David Leigh and Rob Evans, "Reid blocked freedom of information on Powderject, says watchdog", The Guardian, May 25, 2004.
  9. George Jones, "Reid pips Blair to be named most 'slippery' MP", Daily Telegraph, April 6, 2007.
  10. Ian Cobain, Vikram Dodd and Will Woodward, "Terror leaks: both Home Office and police implicated", The Guardian, April 26, 2007.

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