James Purnell

James Purnell

Infobox Minister

honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable

name = James Purnell
honorific-suffix = MP
caption =
title = Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
primeminister = Gordon Brown
predecessor = Peter Hain
successor =
term_start = 24 January 2008
title2 = Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
primeminister2 = Gordon Brown
predecessor2 = Tessa Jowell
successor2 = Andy Burnham
term_start2 = 28 June 2007
term_end2 = 24 January 2008
constituency_MP3 = Stalybridge and Hyde
parliament3 =
majority3 = 8,348 (24%)
predecessor3 = Tom Pendry
successor3 = Incumbent
term_start3 = 7 June 2001
term_end3 =
birth_date = birth date and age|1970|03|2|df=yes
birth_place = City of London, England
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
spouse =
party = Labour
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater = Balliol College, Oxford
occupation =
profession =Politician
religion =

website = [http://www.jamespurnell.org.uk www.jamespurnell.org.uk]
footnotes =

James Mark Dakin Purnell (born 2 March 1970, London) is a British politician and the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. He has been the Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde since the 2001 general election.

Early life

Born within the City of London, he received most of his education in France before returning to study for his A Levels at the fee-paying Royal Grammar School, a public school in Guildford, Surrey and going on to gain a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford.

While still a student he worked in the summer holidays as a researcher to Tony Blair from 1989 to 1992. After graduating he worked as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research before moving to the BBC to become Head of Corporate Planning. In 1997 Purnell returned to work as a special advisor at Number 10 until 2001. He also served as a board member of the Young Vic theatre.

Member of Parliament

Purnell was selected for the seat of Stalybridge and Hyde in 2001, and went on to win the election with a majority of 8,859. As a Labour Member of Parliament, he was a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee in the House of Commons 2001-03, the Chair of the All Party Group on Private Equity and Venture Capital 2002-03, and the Chair of Labour Friends of Israel 2002-04. [ [http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=6694 Letters] , "Prospect", February 2005]

In government

In 2003 James became Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Ruth Kelly in the Cabinet Office, and in December 2004 he joined the Government as a Whip in the government changes following the resignation of David Blunkett.

Following the Labour General Election victory in 2005, he was appointed to the position of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Creative Industries and Tourism in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport where he was in charge of seeing through the legislation that liberalised England and Wales' alcohol licensing laws and modernized film industry tax breaks.

In May 2006 he was promoted to be Minister of State for Pensions in the Department for Work and Pensions, replacing Stephen Timms.

In 2007 he was named Consumer Champion Of The Year by Which? Magazine for his work on pensions. Which? Magazine cited his "commitment to consumers in the development of the national pensions saving scheme", particularly for listening to stakeholders and for his contributions to the personal accounts for low and middle earners. [cite web|url=http://www.which.co.uk/reports_and_campaigns/consumer_rights/reports/Consumer%20rights%20and%20problems/First_which_awards_news_article_557_117068.jsp|title=Which? awards for the best of the best revealed]

In June 2007, he was promoted to the Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, he is the youngest member of the current Cabinet. Along with Andy Burnham, he was also the first person to be appointed to the Privy Council who was born in the 1970s.fact|date=October 2008

He has since been appointed as the Work and Pensions Secretary following the resignation of Peter Hain on 24 January 2008.


In 1996 Purnell was one of three Islington councillors who were sued for libel by fellow Labour councillor Liz Davies. [ [http://www.llb.labournet.org.uk/1996/july/lp5.html Liz libel latest] , Labour Left Briefing, July 1996] Davies had previously been selected as the Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Leeds North East, but the selection had been vetoed by the party's National Executive Committee. Part of the evidence to the NEC had centred around Davies' willingness to abide by the Labour Whip in Parliament, with reference to her time as a member of the Labour group in Islington. Liz Davies claimed that, in their evidence before the NEC, the three councillors had claimed she incited violence during a committee meeting. This led to an out-of-court settlement, under which the three apologised for the allegations they had made and made contributions to the general election campaign of the local MP, Jeremy Corbyn.

Paul Diggett, one of James Purnell's political researchers was convicted in January 2004 of downloading child pornography from Purnell's PC, without the MP's knowledge. Diggett was Labour's candidate for Cheadle in 1997, and was suspended from the party following his arrest. [ [http://www.stockportexpress.co.uk/news/s/311/311427_paedo_shame_of_exlabour_politician.html Paedo shame of ex-Labour politician] ]

In May 2006, Purnell auctioned off a signed copy of the Hutton Report signed by Alastair Campbell. Stewart Jackson, a Conservative MP complained over the insensitive nature of how the report was auctioned to raise funds for the Labour Party.

In January 2007, it was reported by the Daily Mail that James Purnell was given an 'easy ride' in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC's Newsnight because he was having a relationship with one of the producers, Thea Rogers. The BBC found no wrongdoing, while Purnell has also denied inappropriately using his government car. [cite web|url=http://www.epolitix.com/latestnews/article-detail/newsarticle/bbcnbspclears-ministers-interview/|title=Your guide to the James Purnell fake photo non-scandal|publisher=BBC NEWS]

In September 2007, a photograph of James Purnell was faked and released by the press office at Tameside General hospital as part of a press release for the Tameside Hospital Private Finance Initiative (PFI) rebuilding deal. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/7018729.stm NHS trust faked MP visit picture] ] The Tameside Trust claimed that Purnell agreed to the amalgamation of the two photographs, [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/media/story/0,,2167600,00.html Purnell 'optimistic' on TV's future] ] as he was late for the original photo call, but Purnell denied this. Another Labour MP, Tom Levitt, present for the photoshoot stated that he and other Labour MPs deliberately left a gap for Purnell when the original photograph was taken, knowing that Purnell's image would be superimposed onto their photograph. [cite news | first = Chris | last = Hastings | coauthors = Laura Donnelly | title = Labour MPs admit plan to fake Purnell photo | url = http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/30/ntory1330.xml | work = column | publisher = The Daily Telegraph | date = 2007-10-01 | accessdate = 2007-10-02 | quote = James Purnell, the Culture Secretary, came under increasing pressure over a fake photo last night, after two Labour MPs revealed they planned in advance for it be altered. ] Critics described the photograph as being "misleading"; it was especially damaging as it came at a time when Purnell has criticised the media for misleading the public over telephone phone-in scams and over news stories that were not true.

Prior to becoming a cabinet minister, Purnell has repeatedly been one of the most expensive MPs in the United Kingdom and being confirmed as the most expensive in Greater Manchester, with expenses in 2004 of more than £120,000. [cite web|url=http://www.tamesideadvertiser.co.uk/news/s/85/85231_mps_defend_120k_expenses.html|title=MPs defend £120k expenses]

Personal Life

Purnell is engaged to film maker Lucy Walker.


External links

* [http://www.jamespurnell.org.uk/ Official site]
* [http://www.dwp.gov.uk/pensionsreform/weblog/ Department for Work and Pensions - James Purnell's Pensions Reform blog]
* [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/interviews/story/0,11660,1490315,00.html The Guardian: Purnell's progress]
* [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,9290,-7096,00.html Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: James Purnell MP]
* [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/james_purnell/stalybridge_and_hyde TheyWorkForYou.com - James Purnell MP]

NAME= Purnell, James Mark Dakin
SHORT DESCRIPTION=British politician and Cabinet minister
DATE OF BIRTH= 2 March 1970
PLACE OF BIRTH= City of London, England

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