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Owen Paterson appointed as DEFRA secretary

Tuesday 04 September 2012 12:18
Owen Paterson MP

Owen Paterson has been appointed DEFRA secretary, according to reports.

Mr Paterson will replace the outgoing Caroline Spelman as David Cameron carries out a major reshuffle of his Cabinet.

MP for North Shropshire, Mr Paterson has been outspoken on bovine TB and has supported the dairy industry in the past.

He was shadow minister for agriculture from October 2005 to November 2006 and had been Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, since May 2010.

According to his website, as agriculture spokesman Mr Paterson “became an expert on bovine TB and campaigned for the dairy industry”.

More details to follow.

Biography

Owen Paterson was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire. He attended Abberley Hall School and Radley College before going to Cambridge University.

He read History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University and graduated with an MA in 1978.

He joined his family leather business, British Leather Company, in 1979, and was managing director from 1993 to 1999.

He was president of COTANCE, the European Tanners Confederation from 1996 to 1998. According to his website, this experience “drives his political beliefs”, which include localism, free enterprise, less interference in people’s lives and the minimisation of bureaucracy and taxation.

Mr Paterson has been MP for North Shropshire since 1997. Other ministerial posts he has held include Conservative whip, from 1999 to 2001, shadow minister for agriculture from October 2005 to November 2006 and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, since May 2010.

According to his website, as agriculture spokesman he “became an expert on bovine TB and campaigned for the dairy industry”.

Mr Paterson speaks French and German. His interests outside politics include horses, racing and eventing, trees and architectural history.

He has been married to Rose for 28 years and they have three children, Felix, Ned and Evie.

Mr Paterson spent part of the summer racing on horseback across the steppes of Mongolia

During the parliament’s summer recess, the North Shropshire MP and his wife Rose took part in the Mongol Derby – widely considered as the world’s most grueling horse race.

The couple were among 11 of 23 starters to finish the gruelling 1,000km (621 miles) course, as they followed in the footsteps of Genghis Khan.

In 10 days, the couple rode semi wild horses 60 miles a day and survived on a diet of mutton stew and “koomis” – fermented mare’s milk – and only got to wash when they crossed a river.

The couple raised thousands of pounds for three charities - the Royal Irish Regiment Benevolent Fund, the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries, and Mercy Corps Mongolia.

Speaking about the experience afterwards in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Paterson said: “I remember longing for it to be over… but now I feel nostalgic, and wonderfully smug.

“We saw a nomadic way of life which will not be around much longer.”

For more on this topic

Spelman ousted as DEFRA secretary

Philip Case on G+

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