Peter Hain

Peter Gerald Hain, Baron Hain, PC (born 16 February 1950) is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Neath between 1991 and 2015, and served in the Cabinets of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He was the Leader of the House of Commons from 2003 to 2005 and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2005 to 2007 under Blair, and as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales from 2007 to 2008 under Brown. In 2007, he ran for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party, coming fifth out of six candidates, although his failure to declare donations during this contest led to his resignation in 2008. He later returned to the Cabinet from 2009 to 2010 as Welsh Secretary, before becoming Shadow Welsh Secretary in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet from 2010 until 2012, when he announced his retirement from front-line politics.[1]

The Lord Hain

First Minister of Northern Ireland
In office
6 May 2005  8 May 2007
as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byIan Paisley
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
5 June 2009  11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byCheryl Gillan
In office
24 October 2002  24 January 2008
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byPaul Murphy
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
28 June 2007  24 January 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byJohn Hutton
Succeeded byJames Purnell
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
6 May 2005  27 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byPaul Murphy
Succeeded byShaun Woodward
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
In office
11 May 2010  15 May 2012
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Ed Miliband
Preceded byCheryl Gillan
Succeeded byOwen Smith
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
11 June 2003  6 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJohn Reid
Succeeded byGeoff Hoon
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
13 June 2003  6 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Lord Williams of Mostyn
Succeeded byGeoff Hoon
Minister of State for Europe
In office
11 June 2001  24 October 2002
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byKeith Vaz
Succeeded byDenis MacShane
Minister of State for Africa, the Middle East and South Asia
In office
28 July 1999  24 January 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byGeoff Hoon
Succeeded byBrian Wilson
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales
In office
May 1997  28 July 1999
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byGwilym Jones
Jonathan Evans
Succeeded byDavid Hanson
Member of Parliament
for Neath
In office
4 April 1991  30 March 2015
Preceded byDonald Coleman
Succeeded byChristina Rees
Personal details
Peter Gerald Hain

(1950-02-16) 16 February 1950
Nairobi, British Kenya
Political partyLabour (since 1977)
Other political
Liberal (before 1977)
Alma materQueen Mary College, University of London
University of Sussex

In 2014 he announced he would stand down as the MP for Neath at the 2015 general election.[2] He was nominated for a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours.[3] Writing in the Guardian, he subsequently outlined his views on House of Lords reform.[4] He came to the UK from South Africa as a teenager, and was a noted anti-apartheid campaigner in the 1970s. He was also Honorary Vice-President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.[5] Peter Hain was on the board of African Potash.

Lord Hain is a member of the Steering Committee of the Constitution Reform Group,[6] a cross-party pressure group chaired by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, which seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK by way of the Act of Union Bill 2018.[7] The Constitution Reform Group’s Act of Union Bill 2018 [7] was introduced as a Private Member's Bill by Lord Lisvane in the House of Lords on 9 October 2018, when it received a formal first reading. The Bill is currently awaiting a date for its second reading.

Early life

Whilst his father was working temporarily there, Hain was born in Nairobi in what was then Kenya Colony, but he moved to the Union of South Africa when his parents returned about a year later. His South African parents, Walter Vannet Hain and Adelaine Hain (née Stocks), were anti-apartheid activists in the Liberal Party of South Africa, for which they were made "banned persons", briefly imprisoned, and prevented from working.[8][9] Hain's paternal grandparents, civil engineer Walter Vannet Hain of Dundee, and Mary Hain née Gavin of Glasgow, married in 1919, leaving Shettleston, Lanarkshire, on 17 September 1920 on the Edinburgh Castle with their newborn baby William Ayers Vannet Hain, sailing from Southampton to South Africa. Hain's father, later to become an architect, was born there on 29 December 1924. Hain's maternal grandparents were of 1820 Settler British South African stock. His 4th great-grandfather was George Southey (1776–1831) who hailed from Devonshire. Hain descends from his daughter, Sophia Stirk (née Southey), whose brother George was famous for helping to track the Xhosa tribal chief Hintsa kaKhawuta (ca. 1790 – 1835), pursuing him through the defiles of the Fish River bush, when Colonel, afterwards Sir Harry Smith was engaged in his capture, and who, at a critical moment, when the chief had already thrown his assegai at Colonel Smith, and would certainly have killed him, shot him dead through the back of his head, despite his pleas for mercy. Southey then mutilated the body. A brother of Sophia and George Southey was Sir Richard Southey a British colonial administrator, cabinet minister and landowner in South Africa. Hain is a fifth cousin six times removed of the Poet Laureate Robert Southey.

When Hain was 10, he was awoken in the early hours by police officers searching his bedroom for 'incriminating documents'. Aged 11 he was again awoken to be told his parents had been imprisoned for leafleting in support of Nelson Mandela's campaign; they were released without charge after fourteen days' detention. At 15, Hain spoke at the funeral of John Frederick Harris, an anti-apartheid activist who was hanged for murder for the bombing of the Johannesburg main railway station, injuring 23 people and killing an elderly woman, Mrs Ethyl Rhys. Mrs Rhys's grand daughter suffered severe burns.[10]:17 Hain and his parents strongly opposed the bombing but stood by Harris and his wife Ann and baby son David, family friends. As a result of security police harassment, Hain's father was unable to continue his work as an architect, and the family deprived of an income was forced to leave for the United Kingdom in 1966.[11]

Life in South Africa and London

Hain was educated in South Africa at Hatfield Primary School and Pretoria Boys High School and in London at Emanuel School, a state school, later becoming a private fee-paying institution, then Queen Mary College, University of London, graduating with a first class Bachelor's degree in Economics and Political Science in 1973,[12] and the University of Sussex, obtaining an MPhil.[13] After university, Hain worked as a researcher for the Union of Communication Workers from September 1976, later rising to become their head of research.

In February 1975 he married Patricia Western and they divorced in 2002[14] after having two sons, Samuel born 6 August 1976 and Jacob born 21 September 1978. He married Dr Elizabeth Haywood in June 2003. He has six grandchildren, Harry, Seren, Holly, Tesni, Cassian and Freya Hain.


Having joined the British Anti-Apartheid Movement at aged 17 in 1967, when Hain aged 19, he became chairman of the Stop The Seventies Tour campaign which disrupted tours by the South African rugby union and cricket teams in 1969 and 1970. In 1971 director John Goldschmidt produced a film for Granada's World in Action programme featuring Peter Hain debating Apartheid in South Africa at the Oxford Union. The film was transmitted on the ITV network. In 1972 a private prosecution resulted in Hain's conviction for criminal conspiracy at the Old Bailey for which he was fined £200. The prosecution was funded largely from apartheid-supporting whites in South Africa due to his campaign against white-only South African sports tours. He was acquitted of three other conspiracy counts after defending himself in the four week trial described in the book edited by Derek Humphry, Cricket Conspiracy (1972).[15]

In 1972 the South African Security Services sent him a letter bomb that failed to explode because of faulty wiring. In 1976 Hain was tried for, and acquitted of, a 1975 bank theft, having been framed by the South African Bureau of State Security (BOSS) according to his 1987 book, A Putney Plot.[16][17][18]

Joining the Liberal and Labour Parties

In 1968, he joined the Liberal Party and was elected chairperson in 1971 and then in 1975 president of the Young Liberals, but in 1977 switched to Labour. The same year, he was a founder of the Anti-Nazi League[19] and he remains a prominent supporter of Unite Against Fascism today. He is Vice-President of Action for Southern Africa.[20]

Member of Parliament

He contested Putney in the 1983 and 1987 general elections but was defeated on both occasions by Conservative David Mellor.[21][22]

He was elected to the House of Commons at the by-election in April 1991 for the Neath constituency that followed the death of the sitting member, Donald Coleman. In 1995 he became a Labour whip and in 1996 became a shadow employment minister.[23]

In government

After Labour's victory in the 1997 general election he joined the government, first at the Welsh Office 1997–1999, then as minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1999–2001 with responsibility for Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.[23]

In November 1999, as Africa minister he met Robert Mugabe in London; Mugabe told him "I know you are not one of them, Peter; you are one of us,"[24] But the following day, following an attempt by Gay Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to carry out a 'citizen's arrest' on Mugabe, Mugabe accused Hain of being Tatchell's "wife".[25] In October 2000 he set up a war avoidance team to carry messages back and forth between himself and the then-Minister of Foreign Affairs in Iraq, Tariq Aziz (a matter then confidential, which has since been put on public record in an interview with Hain by the Today programme). Team members who travelled repeatedly to Iraq on behalf of Hain variously included William Morris, Burhan Chalabi (an Iraqi-born British businessman), and Nasser al-Khalifa (the then-Qatari Ambassador to the UK). He voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, later when comparing it with other questions on the Labour Party's annual conference agenda, calling it a "fringe issue".[26] However he subsequently described the Iraq invasion as a 'disaster' and explained: 'I believed the evidence shown me on weapons of mass destruction later discovered to be entirely false.'[27]

In 2001 Hain moved briefly to the Department of Trade and Industry[28] before returning to the Foreign Office as Minister for Europe,[23] being sworn of the Privy Council the same year.[29] He was vocal in advocating joint sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain[30] and was accused of deliberately misrepresenting the situation.[31] The agreement was described by Michael Ancram in the UK Parliament,[32] along with Gibraltar as a 'sell-out'[33][34] which was overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum in November 2002. He remains one of the most unpopular politicians ever to visit Gibraltar.[35]

In October 2002, he joined the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales, but continued to represent the UK at the Convention on the Future of Europe. In June 2003 he was made Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal in a cabinet reshuffle, but retained the Wales portfolio. In November 2004 Hain caused controversy among his political rivals when he claimed that "If we are tough on crime and on terrorism, as Labour is, then I think Britain will be safer under Labour".[36]

On 6 May 2005, following the 2005 general election, Hain was appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by Prime Minister Tony Blair, retaining his Welsh position also. He was responsible for negotiating the settlement which brought former enemies Sinn Fein and the DUP into a power-sharing Northern Irish government from May 2007. Although previously a supporter of Irish unity, he has since retreated from this position. On 28 June 2007, he was appointed as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in addition to retaining responsibility for Wales. He was a proponent of the "tough love" measures designed to force claimants, including the sick and disabled, back to work. He saw it as an anti-poverty, full-employment agenda. He resigned from his post when the issue of donations made to his campaign funds were referred to the police.[37]

He set a level of compensation for the taxpayer funded Financial Assistance Scheme similar to that of the Industry funded Pension Protection Fund (PPF) for those whose schemes had collapses before the establishment of the PPF. Referring to the long running Pensions Action Group campaign and speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Moneybox program on the day compensation was announced, pensions expert Ros Altmann, credited Hain and Mike O'Brien with "having been very different to deal with than their predecessors and..willing and eager to engage and find a way to sort this out."[38]

Deputy leadership bid

On 12 September 2006, he announced his candidacy for the position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. In January 2007, Hain gave an interview to the New Statesman in which he made his pitch for the Deputy Leadership and referred to the Bush administration as "the most right-wing American administration, if not ever, then in living memory" and argued that "the neo-con agenda for America has been rejected by the people and I hope that will be the case for the future".[39] Hain was eliminated in the second round of the Deputy Leadership election, coming fifth out of the six candidates, with Harriet Harman being the successful candidate.[40]

Resignation following Labour party deputy leadership donations scandal

In January 2008, The Guardian reported that Hain had failed to declare some 20 donations worth a total of over £100,000 during his deputy leadership campaign and would be investigated by the Electoral Commission.[41] Hain admitted "deeply regrettable administrative failings" but faced questioning on whether the oversight was due to changes in campaign manager possibly causing "chaos" during the campaign or the desire of some donors to remain private.[41] Phil Taylor, the first campaign manager, said that Hain insisted on knowing who had donated and that it was legal. His campaign only reported a separate £82,000 of donations and the Guardian believes he stopped taking a personal interest in funding once the campaign ended though there was no evidence that he deliberately broke the law.[41]

Taylor's successor was Steve Morgan,[41] and it later emerged that four donations were channelled through a non-operating think tank, the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) which may be connected with Morgan, who was named as a donor.[42] On 12 January, Peter Hain released a statement saying that he wanted to get on with his job and it was absurd to think he had deliberately hidden anything.[43] John Underwood, a trustee of the PPF, said that the donations and loans were "entirely permissible", though Hain said he would pay back a £25,000 interest-free loan.[43]

On 24 January 2008, he resigned from several posts including his position as Work and Pensions secretary, after the Electoral Commission referred the failure to report donations to Metropolitan Police. He cited a desire to "clear his name" as the reason for his resignation. Peter Hain was the first person to resign from Gordon Brown's cabinet. He was replaced as Secretary of State for Wales by Paul Murphy, and as Secretary for Work and Pensions by James Purnell in a forced cabinet reshuffle.[44]

Hain's campaign had properly declared some £100,000 of donations but failed to declare £103,156 of donations, contrary to electoral law.[45] On 3 July 2008, the Metropolitan Police announced that they had referred Peter Hain's case to the Crown Prosecution Service.[46] On 5 December 2008 the CPS announced that Hain would not be charged because Hain was not responsible and did not control the members' association Hain4Labour that funded his campaign.[47][48] He returned to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales the following year.

AV referendum

He was a supporter of the unsuccessful Alternative Vote system in the May 2011 referendum,[49] together with his close friend and fellow ex-Young Liberal Richard Burden MP.

Attempted prosecution for contempt of court

On 27 March 2012, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, John Larkin QC obtained leave from Lord Justice Higgins to bring proceedings against Hain and "Biteback Publishing" for contempt of court.[50] Although Hain's book Outside In had already been passed by the Cabinet Office and the Northern Ireland Office prior to publication,[51] the alleged contempt related to statements about Lord Justice Girvan's disposal of an application for judicial review while Hain was Secretary of State.[51][52]

Hain's remarks had previously been strongly criticised by the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Sir Declan Morgan though the decision to charge Hain with "scandalising the court", using a law already obsolete in 1899 drew ridicule in Westminster and strong criticism from senior DUP ministers.[53] According to the Attorney General, Hain's statements prejudiced the administration of justice and amounted to an unjustifiable attack on the judiciary.[54] At a preliminary hearing before a Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice on 24 April 2012, Hain's counsel suggested that the action had no basis in common law and was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The trial was intended to take place on 19 June 2012[55][56] but the case was dropped on 17 May 2012 after Hain agreed to clarify comments to show he didn't question Girvan's motives or his handling of the judicial review.[57]

House of Lords

Hain was created a life peer taking the title Baron Hain, of Neath in the County of West Glamorgan on 22 October 2015.[58]

On 25 October 2018 Hain used parliamentary privilege in the House of Lords to name Sir Philip Green as the businessman accused of sexual and racial harassment by The Daily Telegraph. A legal injunction had prevented the newspaper from naming him. Following Hain's statement, the accusations made against Green were widely published in the media.[59] Hain is a remunerated advisor to the law firm acting for the alleged victims,[60] and Green subsequently announced that, due to this conflict of interest, he would lodge a complaint with the House of Lords.[61]

He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[62]

Styles of address

  • 19501991: Mr Peter Hain
  • 19912001: Mr Peter Hain MP
  • 20012015: The Rt Hon. Peter Hain MP
  • 2015: The Rt Hon. Peter Hain
  • 2015: The Rt Hon. The Lord Hain PC

Political thought

Hain has written in support of libertarian socialist arguments,[63] identifying an axis involving a "bottom-up vision of socialism, with anarchists at the revolutionary end and democratic socialists [such as himself] at its reformist end", as opposed to the axis of state socialism with Marxist-Leninists at the revolutionary end and social democrats at the reformist end.[64][63] Hain has argued for "encouraging industrial democracy. This is one of the keys to the high productivity, investment and wealth needed for economic success, by helping generate greater team working and commitment which is such an important requirement of complex modern production systems."[63]

Business and charity interests

The renewed campaign for construction of the Severn Barrage by Hafren Power was led by Hain in 2012,[65] until Hafren Power wound up in 2014.[66][67]

In May 2013 he joined Amara Mining as non-executive director until its takeover by Perseus Mining in May 2016. On 28 October 2015, Hain was appointed to the Board of AIM listed fertiliser company, African Potash, as non-executive Director, but resigned in November 2017. He is Global and Governmental Adviser to Gordon Dadds PLC

Since 2014 he has been chair of Trustees of the Donald Woods Foundation, a charity working in the poverty stricken Transkei, Eastern Cape, near Nelson Mandela's homeland. He is also a Trustee of the Listen Charity. In 2016-17 he chaired the OR Tambo Centenary Organising Committee.

From 2014 he has been Visiting Professor at the University of South Wales In September 2016 he was appointed Visiting Professor at Witwatersrand University Business School and in September 2017 was appointed Visiting Fellow at Henley Business School.

Alternative medicine

He is a member of the Advisory Council for the College of Medicine,[68] an alternative medicine lobbying organisation set up following the disbanding of Charles, Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health in the wake of a fraud investigation. Describing its mission as "to take forward the vision of HRH the Prince of Wales" and originally called "The College of Integrated Health,"[69] several commentators, writing in The Guardian, The British Medical Journal and in the blogosphere, claim that this organisation is simply a re-branding of the controversial Foundation.[70][71] It continues to act as an alternative medicine lobby group.[69][72] The College has been referred to as "Hamlet without the Prince."[72]

Personal life

Hain lives in Resolven in the Neath Valley. He married his first wife Patricia Western in 1975, and they have two sons. In June 2003, he married his second wife, Welsh businesswoman,[73] Elizabeth Haywood, in Neath Register Office.[74]


  • Peter Hain (1971). Don't Play with Apartheid: Background to the Stop the Seventy Tour Campaign. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-0043010310.
  • Radical Liberalism and Youth Politics by Peter Hain, 1973, Liberal Publications Department ISBN 0-900520-36-1
  • Radical Regeneration by Peter Hain, 1975, Quartet Books ISBN 0-7043-1231-X
  • Peter Hain, ed. (1976). Community Politics. Calder Publications Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7145-3543-2.
  • Mistaken Identity: The Wrong Face of the Law by Peter Hain, 1976, Quartet Books ISBN 0-7043-3116-0
  • Peter Hain and Simon Hebditch (1978). Radicals and Socialism. Institute for Workers' Control. ISBN 978-0-901740-55-7.
  • Policing the Police Edited by Peter Hain, 1979, J Calder ISBN 0-7145-3624-5
  • Peter Hain, ed. (1980). Debate of the Decade: The Crisis and Future of the Left. Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-86104-313-2.
  • Neighbourhood Participation by Peter Hain, 1980, M. T. Smith ISBN 0-85117-198-2
  • Policing the Police Edited by Peter Hain, 1980, J Calder ISBN 0-7145-3796-9
  • Peter Hain (1980). Reviving the Labour Party. Institute for Workers' Control. ISBN 978-0-901740-69-4.
  • Peter Hain (1983). The Democratic Alternative: A Socialist Response to Britain's Crisis. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-006955-6.
  • Peter Hain (1985). Political Trials in Britain. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-007935-7.
  • Peter Hain (1986). Political Strikes: The State and Trade Unionism in Britain. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-007962-3.
  • Proportional Misrepresentation by Peter Hain, 1986, Gower Publishing Ltd ISBN 0-7045-0526-6
  • Peter Hain (1987). A Putney Plot?. Spokesman Books. ISBN 978-0-85124-481-5.
  • Peter Hain (1995). Ayes to the Left. Lawrence & Wishart Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85315-832-5.
  • Peter Hain (1995). The Peking Connection. Lawrence & Wishart Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85315-823-3.
  • Peter Hain (1996). Sing the Beloved Country: Struggle for the New South Africa. Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-7453-0997-2.
  • Robin Cook and Peter Hain (2001). The End of Foreign Policy?. Royal Institute of International Affairs. ISBN 978-1-86203-131-9.
  • New Designs for Europe by Katinkya Barysch, Steven Everts, Heather Grabbe et al., introduction by Peter Hain, 2002, Centre for European Reform ISBN 1-901229-35-1
  • The Future Party by Peter Hain and Ian McCartney. Catalyst Press. 2004. ISBN 978-1-904508-10-6.
  • Outside in (autobiography), Biteback (23 January 2012), ISBN 978-1-84954-118-3
  • Ad & Wal: values, duty, sacrifice in apartheid South Africa, Biteback (January 2014), ISBN 978-1-84954-643-0
  • Back to the future of socialism, Policy Press (26 January 2015), ISBN 978-1-44732-166-8


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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Donald Coleman
Member of Parliament
for Neath

Succeeded by
Christina Rees
Political offices
Preceded by
Keith Vaz
Minister of State for Europe
Succeeded by
Denis MacShane
Preceded by
Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Shaun Woodward
Preceded by
John Reid
Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Geoff Hoon
Preceded by
The Lord Williams of Mostyn
Lord Privy Seal
Preceded by
John Hutton
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by
James Purnell
Preceded by
Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Cheryl Gillan
Preceded by
Cheryl Gillan
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Owen Smith
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