Seema Kennedy

Seema Louise Ghiassi Kennedy OBE (née Ghiassi, Persian: سیما غیاثی;[1] born 6 October 1974) is a British Conservative Party politician. She served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office in 2019. She was the Member of Parliament (MP) for South Ribble in Lancashire from 2015 to 2019, and also served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister from 2017 to 2019.

Seema Kennedy

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Immigration
Assumed office
26 July 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byCaroline Nokes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care
In office
4 April 2019  26 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded bySteve Brine
Succeeded byJo Churchill
Member of Parliament
for South Ribble
In office
8 May 2015  6 November 2019
Preceded byLorraine Fullbrook
Succeeded byKatherine Fletcher
Personal details
Seema Louise Ghiassi

(1974-10-06) 6 October 1974
Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Political partyConservative
Paul Kennedy (m. 2003)
Alma materPembroke College,
WebsiteOfficial website

Ghiassi was privately educated at the Westholme School, and studied French and Persian at Pembroke College, Cambridge. She qualified as a commercial property solicitor, and worked for Slaughter and May, and Bevan Brittan, before working for her family's commercial property business Tustin Developments Ltd. She was first elected as MP for South Ribble in the 2015 general election, and was the first MP of Iranian heritage.

Seema Louise Ghiassi was born on 6 October 1974 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England.[2][3] Her father is an Iranian Muslim, and her mother is an Irish Catholic. Six weeks after her birth, the family moved to Iran. They fled the country after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 when she reports that her family home, and spinning mill business were seized by Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini.[4] They resettled in Blackburn, where Ghiassi attended the independent Westholme School. She was head girl at the school.[5]

She studied French and Persian at Pembroke College, Cambridge. During her course, she studied Persian in Paris for a year under the tutelage of Yann Richard. After graduating with a first, Ghiassi completed a law conversion course at the College of Law (now University of Law).[6][7][8]

Ghiassi began her legal career at city law firm Slaughter and May, where she trained, and qualified as a commercial property solicitor. She then worked for Bevan Brittan.[6][9] After having children, she decided to become part-time and left Bevan Brittan to work as a director for her family's commercial property business Tustin Developments Ltd in Lancashire.[6][10][8]

Parliamentary career

Kennedy stood as the Conservative Party's candidate in Ashton-under-Lyne at the 2010 general election. She came second in the election to the incumbent Labour MP David Heyes. The constituency is historically a safe Labour seat, having elected an MP from the party since 1935.[11][12][13] Kennedy unsuccessfully contested the 2013 Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative primary, and was on the longlist for selection in the Mid Worcestershire constituency.[14][15] In 2014, Kennedy was elected as councillor for the Marshalwick South ward of St Albans City and District Council.[16] She had previously been the chairwoman of the party in St. Albans but resigned in 2009 after a failed attempt to deselect local MP Anne Main over her parliamentary expenses.[17]

She was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for South Ribble in the 2015 general election. She is the first MP of Iranian heritage.[6] She was re-elected in the 2017 general election.[18]

She supported the United Kingdom (UK) remaining within the European Union (EU) in the 2016 UK EU membership referendum. Kennedy voted for then Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement in early 2019. In the indicative votes on 27 March, she voted against a referendum on any withdrawal agreement, and against a no-deal Brexit.[19]

Following Theresa May's reshuffle upon becoming Prime Minister in July 2016, Kennedy was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools.[20]

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness was launched in January 2017. Kennedy and Labour MP Rachel Reeves were the co-chairwomen of the commission. Kennedy had initially began work on the commission with Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016. After Cox's murder, Reeves joined the project to continue her work.[21] In January 2018, the first minister for loneliness was appointed.[22]

Kennedy was a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.[23] Following the 2017 general election she was appointed PPS to the Prime Minister Theresa May. She was the first female PPS to a Conservative prime minister.[24]

From April to July 2019, Kennedy was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Public Health and Primary Care at the Department of Health. After Boris Johnson became prime minister in July, she became the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Immigration at the Home Office.[24] Kennedy was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in May's resignation honours in September.[25] She announced on 25 October that she would be standing down as MP at the next general election.[26]

Personal life

She has been married to Paul Kennedy since 2003. They have three sons.[2] They met while working at law firm Slaughter and May.[6] She is a trustee of the charity St. Giles Trust for Children.[8]


  1. "اختصاصی کیهان لندن؛ مصاحبه با سیما غیاثی کندی", Kayhan London, 5 September 2016
  2. "Kennedy, Seema Louise Ghiassi". A & C Black. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  3. Jacobs, Bill (26 October 2019). "Blackburn-born Tory MP Seema standing down". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  4. Cooke, Diane (14 July 2014). "Fleeing oppression taught me so much". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  5. "Seema's Success". Westholme School. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  6. "Making History: Seema Ghiassi Kennedy, Britain's First MP of Iranian Descent". Kayhan Life. 5 September 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  7. "Seema Kennedy". Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  8. Tim Carr (18 May 2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015: Profiles of the New MPs and Analysis of the 2015 General Election Results. Biteback Publishing. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-84954-924-0.
  9. Reid, Jenna (5 April 2019). "PM's aide appointed as public health minister". Health Service Journal. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  10. "Officers". Companies House. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  11. "Ashton-under-Lyne". BBC News. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  12. "Angela Rayner selected as PPC for Ashton-under-Lyne". Labour List. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  13. "David Heyes". Oldham Chronicle. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  14. "Conservatives throw down gauntlet for Hampstead and Kilburn seat". Ham & High. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  15. Wallace, Mark (15 November 2013). "Introducing the 13 candidates on the longlist for Mid Worcestershire". Conservative Home. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  16. "22nd May 2014 District Council Election Results". St Albans City and District Council. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  17. Irvine, Chris (14 August 2009). "MPs expenses: Anne Main survives deselection meeting". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  18. "South Ribble". BBC News. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  19. "How MPs voted on May's withdrawal deal defeat". Financial Times. 29 March 2019. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019.
  20. Wallace, Mark (22 September 2016). "The full PPS list. One third Leavers. One third women. And ninety per cent May supporters". Conservative Home. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  21. "MPs launch Jo Cox Commission to tackle loneliness". BBC News. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  22. "Minister for loneliness appointed to continue Jo Cox's work". BBC NEws. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  23. "Seema Kennedy appointed new pharmacy minister". Pharmacy Magazine. 5 April 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  24. "Seema Kennedy MP". Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  25. "Full list: Theresa May's resignation honours". The Spectator. 10 September 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  26. "South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy standing down at next election". BBC News. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lorraine Fullbrook
Member of Parliament
for South Ribble

Succeeded by
Katherine Fletcher
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