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Jonathan Sayeed

Jonathan Sayeed
Member of Parliament
for Mid Bedfordshire
In office
2 May 1997 – 11 April 2005
Preceded by Sir Nicholas Lyell
Succeeded by Nadine Dorries
Member of Parliament
for Bristol East
In office
9 June 1983 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by Constituency Established
Succeeded by Jean Corston
Personal details
Born (1948-03-20) 20 March 1948
Nationality British
Political party Conservative

Jonathan Sayeed (born 20 March 1948) is a British politician who was a Conservative Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom from 1983 to 1992 and from 1997 to 2005.

He was the only member of the Conservative front bench who consistently, openly and publicly opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Even though he was reselected by the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association as the Conservative candidate to recontest his seat in the House of Commons shortly before the 2005 General Election, he was forced to retire by ill health.

He was criticised by the Committee on Standards and Privileges for being "at the least negligent, at the worst careless" in respect of a company in which he had an interest but was completely cleared of any impropriety.[1] In the investigation by Sir Thomas Legg into MPs expenses he was one of the minority of MPs who were completely cleared of any misuse of their second home allowances.


  • Early life 1
  • Career in business 2
  • Private life 3
  • MP for Bristol East, 1983-1992 4
  • Career Interlude 1992-97 5
  • MP for Mid Bedfordshire 1997-2005 6
    • Hague election campaign 6.1
    • Career progress 6.2
    • War on terrorism and the Iraq war 6.3
    • Views 6.4
    • Back to Business 6.5
  • Since 2005 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Jonathan Sayeed was the son of the late M M Sayeed, chartered electrical engineer, and L S Sayeed.[2] He is sometimes described as 'Anglo-Indian' or 'half-Indian' due to his father being Indian;[3] however Sayeed did not describe himself as a member of an ethnic minority.[4][5] Sayeed was educated at Woolverstone Hall School in Suffolk.[6][7]

He joined the Royal Navy in 1965, when he was 17. He spent two years at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and then studied at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, for a BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.[6] He left the Navy aged 24 in 1973.[7][8]

Career in business

After leaving the Royal Navy, Sayeed joined Marks and Spencer PLC as a management trainee.[9] Since 1974 "he worked as a shipping and insurance consultant",[8] and held directorships in various international companies:[6]

  • Founder director, Wade Emerson & Co Ltd 1974-82.[2]
  • Chairman and chief executive, Calmady Insurance Services Ltd 1982-83.[2]
  • Chairman, Ranelagh Ltd 1992-96.[2]
  • Non-executive director, Love Lane Investments Ltd (Holding Company) 1992-96.[2]
  • Chairman, Training Division Corporate Services Group PLC 1996-97.[2]
  • Chairman Ranelagh International Ltd 2005-
  • Chairman Patient Pak Holdings Ltd 2008- Patient Pak Ltd 2008-

Private life

Whilst he was MP for Mid Bedfordshire, Sayeed lived in Westminster, and also had a house in Houghton Conquest.[10]

He was a member of the Reform Club and is a member of the Carlton Club. His interests include golf (Secretary, Lords and Commons Golfing Society 2004 and winner, 1998 and 1999, of the Parliamentary Handicap), sailing (Royal Naval Sailing Association and Royal Temple YC), tennis, skiing, classical music (Chairman of the Parliament Choir 2002-2003), books and architecture.[6]

MP for Bristol East, 1983-1992

Sayeed was twice an unsuccessful candidate for the Greater London Council before entering Parliament at his first attempt.[8] He was elected MP for Bristol East at the 1983 General Election, where he defeated Tony Benn. The constituency was created for the 1983 general election, partly from the Bristol South East constituency, where Tony Benn had been MP for much of the previous 32 years.[6] For the Conservatives, this was one of "the three great prizes" of the election, as Benn was "the man they most love to hate".[11] Nationally, "Labour gained 27.6 per cent, its lowest showing since 1918 and not much above the Liberal/SDP Alliance."[12]

In the 1987 General Election, Sayeed more than doubled his majority.

Sayeed served on the select committees for Defence and the Environment; was chairman of the Shipping and Shipbuilding Committee; and deputy chairman of the All-Party Maritime Group.[6] In 1988, He secured an Urban Development Corporation for Bristol despite the opposition of the then Environment Secretary, Nicholas Ridley.[6][13] Sayeed started to climb the ministerial ladder in 1991, when he was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Lord Belstead as Paymaster General.[2][6] However, in 1992 his career took a step backward when he lost his seat to Labour in the General Election.[6]

Career Interlude 1992-97

In 1996 Sayeed sold his public-affairs company, and was appointed chairman of the training division of Corporate Services Group Plc.[14] In May 1997, he stood down as chairman after being elected Member of Parliament for Mid-Bedfordshire.[6]

MP for Mid Bedfordshire 1997-2005

He returned to Parliament as MP for Mid Bedfordshire in the 1997 general election, having defeated the incumbent MP, Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, for the nomination and held the seat until 2005.

Hague election campaign

Sayeed's offices at 28 Stafford Place were the headquarters for William Hague's successful bid to become Conservative leader in 1997.[15]

Career progress

Sayeed served on the Broadcasting Select Committee, and was appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons to the Chairman’s Panel. This small group of senior MPs comprises chairmen of the Committees that debate legislation.[6]

In the 1999-2000 session of Parliament, Lord Weatherill and Sayeed introduced a private member's bill which was passed into law. This was the Census (Amendment) Bill.[16][17]

Sayeed was chairman of European Standing Committee C,[18] was joint-chairmen (together with Labour MP Bill O'Brien) of the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs.[19]

Jonathan Sayeed achieved his first front-bench post in 2001, when he was appointed as shadow minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[20][21] This was a shadow-ministerial post; the Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary was Peter Ainsworth.[22] "Among his first roles has been to lead for the Conservatives on the Home Energy Conservation Bill, for which he declared his party's support strongly at Second Reading. In Committee he made plain that this support was entirely conditional upon the continued inclusion of firm targets in the final text."[8] The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) praised his efforts saying: "In a few months in post Mr Sayeed has proved himself to be a doughty fighter for strong policies backing energy conservation."[8] Sayeed continued as shadow minister after a reshuffle by the Conservative leader The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith in July 2002.[23]

War on terrorism and the Iraq war

After the 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States, the UK Parliament was recalled, and a solemn five-hour emergency sitting of the House of Commons debated the crisis. Jonathan Sayeed said that military might alone would not be enough to deal with the problem. "There has to be some understanding why there is such hatred for so many institutions within the United States. Unless we deal with some of the deep-seated causes, then more terrorists will come to the fore."[24] However, the Prime Minister was adamant that there should be no "moral ambiguity" about the events in the US, that the entitlement to dislike the US could never justify the actions carried out.[25]

In early 2003, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair supported American plans for the invasion of Iraq. British armed forces were deployed to participate in the invasion. The British Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith supported British government policy on this.

Every Conservative MP has been instructed by pager message not to voice doubts about a possible war to journalists, but to share them privately with Mr Duncan Smith or the chief whip, David Maclean. Despite this warning, several Tories, including one on the front bench, have openly dissented from the party line. Jonathan Sayeed, a shadow Environment minister, told the Commons last week that he had heard no convincing case for war. "Every television company will broadcast to the world, including the Arab world, harrowing pictures of the human catastrophe that warfare leaves in its wake, and the closer war comes to Baghdad the greater will be the innocent casualties."[26]

An article by Sayeed was published in The Guardian on 24 January 2003: entitled An undemocratic war. He wrote: "I believe that although a war against Iraq may become necessary, I am not convinced that it is necessary now, and that more should be done to avert war."[27]

Three members of the Conservative front bench and one Conservative whip resigned their posts so that they could vote against the war:


Whilst he was MP for Bristol East, Sayeed called for establishment of charity-run hostels for the homeless on derelict council land.[6]

Economically, Sayeed was on the right of the Conservative party, opposing British entry into the single European currency. He had strong views on defence. On social matters, he was on the more liberal wing of the party, with the exception of gay rights in the Armed Forces where he opposed the lifting of the ban on homosexuals. As an MP he was considered a well informed and thoughtful contributor to debates on foreign policy in the Middle East and on economic, defence and social matters.[20]

Sayeed urged for new roads to regenerate towns and inner-cities. He campaigned against a proposed 17-tonne lorry ban, against illegal sites for travellers, and against 'unnecessary' development of the Bedfordshire countryside.[6] He successfully persuaded the UK government to propose amendments to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and, despite opposition from the then Secretary of State for the Environment Nicholas Ridley, persuaded the Conservative government to permit an Urban Development Corporation in Bristol. In 2004 he proposed the end of male primogeniture for the British Monarchy though such a principle would not have been applied to the Prince of Wales or Prince William.

Back to Business

For much of the time when Sayeed was MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, the chairman of the local constituency party was Mrs Alexandra Messervy. Mrs Messervy also became one of Sayeed's part-time paid assistants in the House of Commons. In June 2001 Mrs Messervy set up a travel company called The English Manner Ltd.[30] The business of this company was to provide luxury travel holidays to the UK for Americans; the holidays included lessons in English etiquette from members of the English upper classes and access to exclusive events and institutions.[31] Mrs Messervy had a 60% shareholding, Sayeed had 30%, and 10% was owned by Mrs Genie Ford (who ran operations in the US).[32][33][34][35]

In May/June 2003 or 2004, Ashley Green succeeded Alexandra Messervy as local constituency party chairman.[33][36]

In the Summer of 2004, the Sunday Times claimed "The English Manner Ltd charges clients up to £500 per day for access to the Palace of Westminster through Jonathan Sayeed".[33] This was completely denied by the company, a denial that was supported by evidence. On a number of occasions Sayeed provided entertainment in the House of Commons for individuals (some of whom were long-standing friends of Mr Sayeed) on holidays arranged by The English Manner. However, there is no evidence that Sayeed received any direct financial benefit for this.[32][35]

There was a meeting of the local constituency party's executive council on 13 September 2004 to discuss the allegations in the Sunday Times article. It is claimed that at the meeting Alexandra Messervy announced that a local donor, Martin Randall, had agreed to give the party some £10,000, so long as "Jonathan is still the candidate at the general election." (Martin Randall was chairman of a double-glazing company called Crystal Clear, to which Sayeed was a consultant.)[37]

"The Conservative whip was temporarily suspended from Sayeed from 3rd February to 7th March 2005 after the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges recommended that he be suspended from the service of the House for 10 working days. The Committee found that a company in which he had an interest had appeared to derive financial benefit from its offering tours of Parliament and ran the risk of damaging the reputation of Parliament."[32][38]

Sayeed said that the suspension was "unjust and wrong" but he made an "unreserved" apology to MPs in the Commons chamber: "I accept that a complaint was brought because of ineffectual internal controls in a company in which I had an interest and that as an MP I was negligent in not checking the actions of that company. For that I unreservedly apologise to the House." He told colleagues he had disposed of his shares in The English Manner and resigned as a consultant to it. He said: "I can assure the House that I have never used my access to the House or its facilities for direct or indirect commercial benefit and I have never solicited or received any payment for any tour or entertainment within the Palace of Westminster." [33]

On 17 Feb 2005, the Mid-Bedfordshire Conservative Association held a meeting at the Rufus Centre in Flitwick to consider Jonathan Sayeed's future.[33] The meeting decided by a majority of 173 to 126, that Sayeed should remain the Conservative candidate in the forthcoming General Election. After the vote, Constituency association president Sir Stanley Odell resigned in protest.[35][39][40][41] One constituency party member, Geoffrey Beckwith, said: "I think the membership was strongly against the motion. Mr Sayeed has behaved impeccably. This is just a storm in a teacup. I think the chairman of the party [Ashley Green] might now have to look to his own position."[42]

On 21 Feb 2005, the constituency party chairman's wife Mrs Valmai A Green and another member wrote to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, enclosing a letter Sayeed had sent to members of the Mid-Bedfordshire Conservative Association, and asking if Sayeed should have used House of Commons stationery and facilities for this.[43] "The Committee issued a second report on 17th March 2005 criticising Sayeed for failing to apologise for his conduct as the first report had ordered, for sending out a circular on House of Commons stationery to members of the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association asking for their support in his reselection, and misuse of allowances to pay for work on his home. Following this report, the Conservative Party removed the whip from Sayeed permanently."[38] Under Conservative Party rules, a sitting MP can only be an approved Conservative party candidate in a parliamentary election if he/she has the Conservative Party whip.[44] This enables the Conservative Party leader to over-rule local constituency Conservative Party branches who want to retain their sitting MP as candidate.

In March 2005, Jonathan Sayeed was criticised by the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges for his use of allowances and Parliament's stationery. He was ordered to pay back £12,500 which was spent on his Bedfordshire home - the money is allocated for London expenses only.[45] This money was subsequently repaid back to Mr Sayeed following his producing the receipts for the correct property. Similarly treated was a further £9,500 in expenses investigated by the Standards and Privileges Committee.[45] In the investigation by Sir Thomas Legg of the validity of payments of the Additional Costs (or ‘Second Homes’) Allowance (ACA) made to Members of Parliament during the years 2004-05 to 2008-09 Jonathan Sayeed was one of the minority of MPs who were completely cleared of any impropriety or misuse of their allowances.[46][47]

"On 14 March 2005, it was announced that Jonathan Sayeed would not be contesting the May 2005 general election, on grounds of ill health."[39]

Jonathan Sayeed was one of two Conservative MPs who had the party whip withdrawn at the time of the election.[48] The other was Howard Flight, who was deselected over comments he made on Conservative spending plans.[49]

Since 2005

He retired from Parliament at the General Election of 2005, and is currently a chairman of various companies. In 2009, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld ten complaints against his company PatientPak, accusing the company’s marketing campaign of "scaremongering" when advertising its patient hygiene kit as "essential to protect against hospital superbugs."[50]

On 19 July 2005 the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges concluded that, in making ACA claims in respect of an ineligible property, Mr Sayeed did not properly observe the administrative rules relating to the allowance, and therefore breached the Code of Conduct in this respect. The committee explained this conclusion writing, "We agree with the Commissioner and deplore Mr Sayeed’s failure to take the steps necessary to satisfy himself that such important matters were being dealt with properly. Had he still been a Member, we would have given serious consideration to a further period of suspension."[51]


  1. ^ "Tour row MP says sorry again". BBC. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "BBC Vote 2001 Jonathan Sayeed". BBC News. 18 October 1980. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ In 1997 "the half-Indian former MP Jonathan Sayeed (who did not identify as an ethnic minority candidate) was returned for Mid-Bedfordshire." p199, Butler, David and Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1997, pub Palgrave Macmillan, 1997, ISBN 0-312-21079-5
  5. ^ "The Anglo-Indian Conservative MP, Jonathan Sayeed, is not included amongst ethnic minority MPs." p206, Butler, David and Kavanagh, Dennis, The British General Election of 2001, pub Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0-333-74032-7
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m MP for Mid-Bedfordshire - Jonathan SayeedNews from The Herts AdvertiserSt Albans & Harpenden
  7. ^ a b "BBC Election '97". BBC. Archived from the original on 5 November 2004. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  8. ^ a b c d e 'The Fifth Fuel' Issue No. 41 Spring 2002 (this was found on a cached version of [1]). The Fifth Fuel is the newsletter of the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) Archived 25 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ There are some contradictions about dates here.
    BBC Election '97 states "Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve 1965-73. Management Trainee, Marks & Spencer 1974-75."
    The Herts Advertiser states that he has held directorships in various international companies since 1974.
    BBC Vote 2001 states that he was founder director, Wade Emerson & Co Ltd 1974-82.
    [Clearly he was not a company director at the same time that he was a management trainee at Marks and Spencer. It is likely that he was a management trainee in 1973-74, not 1974-75.]
  10. ^ Nomination Papers for 2001 General Election.
  11. ^ "Guardian, 10 June 1983 ''Tories hail a massive majority''". The Guardian (London). 9 June 2005. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  12. ^ , part 3History of the Labour
    Cawood, Ian, Britain in the Twentieth Century Routledge, 2003, p372; ISBN 0-415-25457-4
  13. ^ This was created under the following Statutory Instruments:
    • Bristol Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) Order 1988S.I. 1989/91
    • Bristol Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) (Amendment) Order 1988S.I. 1989/92
    • Bristol Development Corporation (Planning Functions) Order 1989 S.I. 1989/93
  14. ^ This company has a website
  15. ^ "After the axis defeat". The Spectator, 28 Jun 1997
  16. ^ House of Commons Information Office Factsheet L3 Archived 19 April 2003 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ p220, Peele, Gillian, Governing the UK: British Politics in the 21st Century (Modern Governments), Wiley, 44th edition, 2004; ISBN 0-631-22681-8
  18. ^ "Parliamentary Publications, Daily List no.125, ''Daily List no. 215, for ''Titles published on Monday 6th November 2000''". Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  19. ^ p218-9, Trench, Alan, The State of the Nations 2001: The Second Year of Devolution in the United Kingdom, pub Imprint Academic, 2001, ISBN 0-907845-19-3
  20. ^ a b c Mp, Conservative (21 October 2002). "Jonathan Sayeed". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  21. ^ List of frontbenchers who have resigned over Iraq at
  22. ^ Ainsworth: Our task is to revive the countryside, article on Conservative Party website on speech by Peter Ainsworth at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool on 9 October 2001.
  23. ^ Office of the Leader of the Opposition: July 2002
  24. ^ Russell, Ben (15 September 2001). "MPs condemn atrocities and call for restraint". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  25. ^ "House of Commons Research Paper 01/72 ''11 September 2001: the response''" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  26. ^ "On the brink of war: Tory dissent - Even voices of the right express", The Independent on Sunday, 26 January 2003
  27. ^ Sayeed J "An undemocratic war". The Guardian, 24 January 2003
  28. ^ House of Commons: Weekly Information Bulletin 22 March 2003
  29. ^ Tempest M "Parliament gives Blair go-ahead for war". The Guardian, 18 March 2003
  30. ^ Appendix 1: Memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report, 3 February 2005
  31. ^ 'The English Manner website promised unique travel experiences, courses in etiquette and seminars in social graces. The organiser, Mrs Messervy, promised "once-in-a-lifetime trips to recreate a classic English country house party by enabling guests to stay with members of the aristocracy in castles and stately homes throughout Britain". She also promised "tutorials led by the British political, cultural and artistic elite".' "Tours scandal Tory MP Sayeed steps down". The Guardian, 14 Mar 2005,
  32. ^ a b c Conduct of Mr Jonathan Sayeed Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report, 3 February 2005
  33. ^ a b c d e "Commons suspends Tory MP Sayeed". BBC News. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  34. ^ "The English Manner Ltd". Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  35. ^ a b c "Sayeed survives de-selection". The Independent, 18 February 2005 Archived 4 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ There is a reference to Ashley Green being chairman in October 2004 in a story in the 17 October 2004 edition Bedfordshire on Sunday quoted in October 2004 - Hunting 16-31.10.04.
  37. ^ "Now Sayeed faces criticism over £10,000 local 'donation'" The Independent, 22 October 2004
  38. ^ a b "". Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  39. ^ a b "Sayeed to stand down as Tory MP". BBC News. 14 March 2005. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  40. ^ Carlin B "MP is suspended by Howard over Commons tours" The Daily Telegraph, 4 February 2005
  41. ^ Carlin B "Tory constituency president quits after members keep MP". The Daily Telegraph, 18 February 2005
  42. ^ "Tour guide Tory MP escapes censure by constituency party". The Independent, 18 February 2005
  43. ^ The Committee Office, House of Commons. "Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report: Written Evidence received by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards". Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  44. ^   Whilst this article refers to Howard Flight MP and not Jonathan Sayeed, it is quoted here as a reliable source for what Conservative Party rules are with respect of sitting MPs who wish to stand for re-election as Conservative candidates when the Conservative whip has been removed, as happened in the cases of both Mr Flight and Mr Sayeed.
  45. ^ a b "Tour row Tory MP says sorry again". BBC News. 23 March 2005. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  46. ^ , Annex: Individual conclusions and recommendationsMembers Estimate Committee - Report, Review of past ACA Payments. House of Commons, Session 2009-10. Out of 808 politicians listed, Mr Sayeed was one of 329 who were listed as having "no issues".
  47. ^ Legg, Sir Thomas (1 February 2010). .Members Estimate Committee - Report, Review of past ACA Payments by Appendix 1 to House of Commons, Session 2009-10, ACA Review: Report Sir Thomas Legg's report does not mention Sayeed.
  48. ^ 2005 General Election: List of Retiring MPsKeele University
  49. ^ "Howard defends action over Flight". BBC News. 27 March 2005. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  50. ^ "Former Tory MP Jonathan Sayeed mislead consumers over 'PatientPak' kits". The Times. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  51. ^ Conduct of Mr Jonathan Sayeed, First Report of Session 2005–06, House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges, House of Commons, 19 July 2005, HC 419.

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Jonathan Sayeed
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bristol East
Succeeded by
Jean Corston
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Lyell
Member of Parliament for Mid Bedfordshire
Succeeded by
Nadine Dorries
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