Jack Straw
British politician
Jack Straw
John Whitaker "Jack" Straw is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Blackburn since 1979. He served as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001, Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006 and Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons from 2006 to 2007 under Tony Blair.
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Ex-UK foreign secretary faces legal action in rendition case
Yahoo News - 2 months
LONDON (AP) — A lawsuit against former U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw brought by an ex-Libyan dissident who alleges he and his wife were abducted and sent to Tripoli with British complicity can proceed, Britain's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
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Yahoo News article
Close legal loophole which means public services contractors don't have disclose their work, say campaigners - The Independent
Google News - about 1 year
The Independent Close legal loophole which means public services contractors don't have disclose their work, say campaigners The Independent Companies who operate everything from prisons to parking services and prosecuting TV licence evaders must be made more accountable, campaigners say. A legal loophole in the Freedom of Information Act which exempts major contractors from revealing ... FOI commission 'will not propose exempting universities from law' despite proposals from ministersTelegraph.co.uk Freedom of Information reviewer Jack Straw advised firm on how to avoid transparency lawsMirror.co.uk FoI charges would 'strangle investigations at birth' says PA bossHoldTheFrontPage.co.uk Press Gazette -Daily Mail -Redbrick all 10 news articles »
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Blair and Straw face questions over complicity in Shaker Aamer's treatment
Guardian (UK) - over 1 year
Alex Salmond says Guantánamo detainee’s claim that former PM and minister must have known of his torture is reasonable Tony Blair and Jack Straw must reveal what they knew about the alleged torture of the former Guantánamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer, Alex Salmond has said. In his first interview since returning home to London in October after being detained without charge for 14 years in the US military facility in Cuba, British resident Shaker Aamer suggested the former prime minister and the former home and foreign secretary were aware that he was being tortured. Continue reading...
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Guardian (UK) article
The U.S. Best Selling Poet ... Is a Persian!
Huffington Post - over 1 year
For those who are not closely familiar with the history of what is called the Middle East today, "Persia" mostly sounds like a weird and eccentric name that has to be looked for in the encyclopedias and textbooks. There are people to whom the word Persia resonates with some ancient geographical territory, but they're unable to locate it on the map. And of course there are people who are well aware that the word "Persia" was used since the fifth century BCE to describe one of the world's longest-standing and most venerable empires, inherited to the modern-day country that George W. Bush once said was part of an Axis of Evil: Iran. The Persian culture and its manifestations, which continue to influence the world and inspire scores of people across the planet, make up the ignored and undiscovered part of the reality of Iran. Persian culture takes on many different representations, characterized by the enormous amount of literary work produced throughout the past centuries by Iranian poe ...
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Huffington Post article
UK government 'seeking to avoid responsibility' for renditions
Guardian (UK) - over 1 year
An opponent of Gaddafi is suing Jack Straw and the intelligence agencies in the supreme court after he was flown to the Libyan dictator’s torture cells in 2004 The government is indulging in an “extravagant extension” of the doctrine of foreign state immunity to avoid responsibility for rendition cases it coordinated, the supreme court has been told. Officials cannot lawfully “shut the doors of the court to victims of executive abuse simply by acting with other states,” the UK’s highest court heard. Continue reading...
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Guardian (UK) article
Court exceeded its power in ordering publication of Charles memos – Straw
Guardian (UK) - almost 2 years
Jack Straw, an architect of the Freedom of Information Act, says supreme court ignored will of parliament and letters to ministers should have remained secret Jack Straw, a former Labour cabinet minister and one of the architects of the Freedom of Information Act, has said that the Prince of Wales’s memos to ministers should have remained secret and that the supreme court exceeded its power in backing the Guardian’s fight for publication. Speaking after the publication of the so-called black spider memos following a 10-year legal battle by the Guardian against the government, Straw said: “The heir to the throne is going to have some views – if you want a constitutional monarchy it is important that those views are known but they are only known in private.” Related: The Guardian view on the black spider memos: a victory for the rule of law, a warning to Prince Charles | Editorial Related: Read the Prince Charles 'black spider' memos in full Continue reading...
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Guardian (UK) article
Chilcot inquiry into Iraq war may be delayed beyond 2015
Guardian (UK) - almost 2 years
Inquiry is mired in arguments about criticism it intends to make of some individuals, including Tony Blair and Jack Straw The long-awaited Chilcot report into the 2003 invasion of Iraq may be delayed until next year because the inquiry is mired in increasingly heated argument about the criticism it intends to make of some of the leading individuals involved, including Tony Blair, his foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Related: The Guardian view on the Chilcot report: time’s up | Editorial Continue reading...
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Guardian (UK) article
Ex-Libyan rebel commander appeals ruling on British torture case
Yahoo News - over 2 years
By Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - A former Libyan Islamist commander who says he suffered years of torture by Muammar Gaddafi's henchmen after British and U.S. spies handed him over to Libya will try this week to overturn a ruling blocking legal action against the British government. Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a rebel leader who helped topple Gaddafi in 2011 and is now leader of the Libyan al-Watan Party, says he and his pregnant wife Fatima were abducted by U.S. CIA agents in Thailand in 2004 and then illegally transferred to Tripoli with the help of British spies. Two years ago, he began legal action against former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Britain's MI5 and MI6 spy agencies, a former intelligence chief, and relevant government departments. This week, Belhadj launches an appeal against that decision.
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Yahoo News article
UK, US were 'malign' force in Iran: Straw
Yahoo News - about 3 years
Former foreign secretary Jack Straw said Friday that Britain and the United States had been a "malign force" in Iran in the past, after a relationship-building visit to Tehran. Straw and three other British members of parliament visited Iran this week amid a thawing of relations between Britain and the Islamic Republic, after ties were severed in 2011 when hardline Islamists ransacked the British embassy compound in Tehran. In an interview with BBC radio, Straw said his group had been well received by the government of President Hassan Rouhani and reported "considerable optimism there" about a rapprochement with the West. "There is a very, very long history to this, to poor relations between Iran on the one hand and US and UK on the other," Straw said.
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US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to 'unmask' Britons' personal data
Guardian (UK) - over 3 years
• 2007 deal allows NSA to store previously restricted material • UK citizens not suspected of wrongdoing caught up in dragnet • Separate draft memo proposes US spying on 'Five-Eyes' allies The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the first explicit confirmation that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance programs, an NSA memo describes how in 2007 an agreement was reached that allowed the agency to "unmask" and hold on to personal data about Britons that had previously been off limits. The memo, published in a joint investigation by the Guardian and Britain's Channel 4 News, says the material is being put in databases where it can be made available to other members of the US intelligence and military community. Britain ...
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Guardian (UK) article
At the Nexus of Media and Politics - Part Two
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Below is a transcript of a lecture given by Alastair Campbell today in his role as Humanitas Visiting Professor of Media 2013/14 at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), at Cambridge University, in association with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue A few years ago, Carl Bernstein and I shared a platform at a conference in Italy. I was surprised how much we agreed about the modern media. But what struck me most was his description that Watergate was one of the greatest stories of all time but, he added, 'a disaster for journalism.' As the Redford/Hoffman film showed, Woodward/Bernstein were obsessive about facts, determined to go that extra distance to check. There are reporters today for whom an investigation means two phone calls not one, or the dubious and illegal practices of which we have heard so much. Watergate was the best of journalism because it slowly, systematically uncovered a terrible truth that the most powerful man in the world ...
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Huffington Post article
Jack Straw: Labour made mistake letting Poles in early
Guardian (UK) - over 3 years
Former home secretary says number and impact of migrants from eastern Europe far exceeded predictions The former home secretary Jack Straw has admitted that dropping immigration restrictions on eastern European migrants was a "spectacular mistake" on Labour's part. The Labour MP said handing immediate working rights to Poles and other nationalities who joined the EU in 2004 was a "well-intentioned policy we messed up". Writing in the Lancashire Telegraph, Straw said: "However careful you are, as a minister, in your analysis, many decisions are based upon predictions about the future, where, ultimately, your fate is in the lap of the gods. "One spectacular mistake in which I participated [not alone] was in lifting the transitional restrictions on the eastern European states like Poland and Hungary which joined the EU in mid-2004. "Other existing EU members, notably France and Germany, decided to stick to the general rule which prevented migrants from these new states from working ...
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Guardian (UK) article
Apologists for Israel Hatred in the UK
Huffington Post - over 3 years
The British Board of Deputies is an important and distinguished organization that is undermined by Jonathan Arkush's head-in-the-sand approach to the deluge of Israel hatred that has erupted in the UK. Arkush is hell-bent on defending Anglo-Jewry from charges of insufficient action. But in his response to me he contradicts himself on nearly every line. He praises Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub, on the one hand, for condemning the ignorant remarks of Jack Straw. Yet he does hold former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, or the office's current occupant, accountable for failing to do the same. Is it only Jews who are temporarily imported from Israel that are responsible to stand up to fraudulent charges of the Jewish state stealing Palestinian land? Does the office of Chief Rabbi not require its occupants to proudly defend the Jewish homeland? Arkush, who in his column claims responsibility for the welfare of British Jewish students, says he does not know "of a single British university" whe ...
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Huffington Post article
HS2 alternatives could require 14 years of weekend rail closures
Guardian (UK) - over 3 years
Backbench MPs angry over Network Rail report that says upgrades to existing line's will need 2,770 weekend closures to match HS2 capacity Alternatives to building Britain's second high-speed rail link which would instead upgrade existing lines could need 14 years of weekend closures to complete, according to government-sponsored studies releasedon Monday. The claims were published as ministers battle to maintain cross-party support for the controversial HS2 project connecting London to the north and before a crucial week for the scheme in parliament. The government has faced a backlash from backbenchers against the project, which is expected to cost up to £42.6bn, has overrun its original budget and cuts a swath through many marginal Conservative constituencies. The studies, prepared by Network Rail and the management consultancy Atkins, found that the east coast mainline, midland mainline and west coast mainline would require 2,770 weekend closures (144,000 hours of work) if they ...
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Guardian (UK) article
Labour stalwart Straw stepping down - expressandstar.com
Google News - over 3 years
AFP Labour stalwart Straw stepping down expressandstar.com Labour's elder statesman Jack Straw has announced he is to stand down as an MP at the next general election. 8a1fa772-3dc9-11e3-97a7-0a0c02230000 Jack Straw will stand down as an MP at the next general election. Tweet. The former home secretary, ... Former UK foreign minister Straw stepping down as MPAFP The News Matrix: Saturday 26 October 2013The Independent Jack Straw standing down at next electionTelegraph.co.uk BBC News -Daily Mail all 44 news articles »
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Jack Straw
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2015
    Age 68
    In October 2015 He was Given the Freedom of the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen.
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    He was exonerated by the Commissioner in September 2015 after a detailed investigation.
    More Details Hide Details The Commissioner for Standards dismissed all allegations that he had brought the House of Commons into disrepute, saying that "I have seen nothing which suggests that Straw's conduct would have merited criticism if the approach made by PMR bogus company established by Channel 4 had been genuine.” She said that "the evidence I have seen supports Mr Straw's assertions that he "neither exaggerated nor boasted" in what he said to the reporters." The Commissioner was sharply critical of Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph, saying "if in their coverage of this story, the reporters for 4 Dispatches, and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by these two members other was Sir Malcolm Rifkind in their interviews and measured their words against the rules of the House it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of these two individuals and those around them and to the reputation of the House."
    Straw voluntarily withdrew from the Parliamentary Labour Party (but remained a member of the party itself) in February 2015 due to allegations from Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph.
    More Details Hide Details Straw denied any wrongdoing or any breach of the parliamentary rules and voluntarily referred himself to the Commissioner on Parliamentary Standards and withdrew from the Parliamentary Labour Party pending the Commissioner's inquiry. He told the BBC, “have acted with complete probity and integrity throughout my parliamentary career”.
    In February 2015, Straw was secretly recorded by journalists from The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 News, who posed as representatives of a fictitious Chinese company that wanted to set up an advisory council.
    More Details Hide Details Straw was recorded describing how he operated "under the radar" and had used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year.
    In September 2015 the Commissioner for Standards dismissed all allegations that he had brought the House of Commons into disrepute and criticised Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph’s conduct.
    More Details Hide Details Jack Straw was born in Buckhurst Hill in Essex, the son of Walter Arthur Whitaker Straw, an insurance salesman, and Joan Sylvia Gilbey. After his father left the family, Straw was brought up by his mother on a council estate in Loughton. Known to his family as John, he started calling himself Jack while in school, in reference to Jack Straw, one of the leaders of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. Straw's maternal grandfather's mother came from an Eastern European Jewish family. Straw himself is a Christian. Jack Straw was educated at Brentwood School and the University of Leeds. He graduated with a 2:2 degree in Law. He was alleged by the Foreign Office to have disrupted a student trip to Chile to build a youth centre. They branded him a "troublemaker acting with malice aforethought."
    In February 2015 Channel 4 Dispatches and The Daily Telegraph accused Straw of impropriety following a meeting they set up with a fictitious Chinese company.
    More Details Hide Details Straw strongly denied the allegations and referred himself to Parliament’s Commissioner for Standards.
  • 2013
    Age 66
    In 2013, at a round table event of the Global Diplomatic Forum at the UK's House of Commons, Jack Straw (who has Jewish heritage) was quoted by Israeli politician Einat Wilf, one of the panelists at the forum, as having said that among the main obstacles to peace was the amount of money available to Jewish organizations in the US, which controlled US foreign policy, and also Germany's "obsession" with defending Israel.
    More Details Hide Details Wilf stated: "It was appalling to listen to Britain's former foreign secretary. His remarks reflect prejudice of the worst kind... I thought British diplomats, including former ones, were still capable of a measure of rational thought." Wilf said that she was shocked to hear Straw's comments and that she responded in the debate by stressing the role of the Palestinian and Arab refusal to accept Israel's legitimacy as a sovereign Jewish state. The Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland said that Jack Straw's comments "echo some of the oldest and ugliest prejudices about 'Jewish power' and go far beyond mere criticism of Israel." Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Jack Straw strongly denied claims that his criticism was anti-Semitic. In a statement to The Times of Israel, Straw did not relate to whether he had said what Wilf alleged he said, but did say that there was no justification in any of his remarks for claims that he was being antisemitic. He pointed out that Wilf did not claim that he had embarked on an anti-Semitic diatribe, as had been claimed in many of the media reports. He wrote a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which was described as follows:
  • 2012
    Age 65
    In October 2012, the Guardian reported on the filing of court papers, which alleged that MI6 alerted Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence services to the whereabouts of dissidents, co-operated in their rendition, sent officers and detailed questions to assist in their interrogation, and that Straw attempted to conceal this from MPs.
    More Details Hide Details After the Labour Party suffered major defeats in local elections on 4 May 2006, losing 317 seats in balloting for 176 councils, Tony Blair acted the following day with a major reshuffle of his ministers during which he moved Straw from Foreign Secretary to Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal. Straw had apparently requested a break from high ministerial office after serving in two of the four great departments of state for nearly ten years. To lessen the apparent demotion, Blair gave Straw responsibility for House of Lords reform and party funding, issues which had been part of the portfolio of the Department for Constitutional Affairs. In addition, Straw was given the chairmanship of the Constitutional Affairs cabinet committee where he was responsible for attempting to force through a flat-fee charge for Freedom of Information requests. On 25 March 2007, Straw announced he was to run Gordon Brown's campaign for the Labour leadership. This was the first official confirmation the Chancellor would stand.
  • 2011
    Age 64
    In late 2011, Straw was appointed to the role of visiting professor to University College London School of Public Policy.
    More Details Hide Details He later argued for the abolition of the European Parliament.
    In April 2011, Straw was appointed as a consultant to E. D. & F. Man Holdings Ltd., a British company based in London specialising in the production and trading of commodities including sugar, molasses, animal feed, tropical oils, biofuels, coffee and financial services.
    More Details Hide Details Commenting on his appointment to ED&F Man on a salary of £30,000 per annum, Straw said, "There are 168 hours in the week, and I will work in Blackburn for a least 60 and maybe sleep for 50. Providing there’s no conflict, I have long taken the view that I am not against people doing other things. I had two jobs as a minister. I think it's really important that politicians are involved with the outside world."
    In January 2011, Straw provoked controversy with comments made on Newsnight about Pakistani men.
    More Details Hide Details He said "there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men... who target vulnerable young white girls." His comments came after two men of Pakistani origin were convicted of rape in Derby.
  • 2010
    Age 63
    In December 2010, ahead of the UK Alternative Vote Referendum 2011, Straw was a signatory to a letter to the Guardian arguing in favour of the alternative vote.
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    In August 2010, Straw announced his plans to quit his role as Shadow Justice Secretary and move to the backbenches, citing the need for a ‘fresh start’ for the Labour Party under a new leader.
    More Details Hide Details Straw has since described Gordon Brown's leadership as a "tragedy".
    Jack Straw apologised for these comments regarding the veil on 26 April 2010 at a private hustings organised by Engage in the buildup to the United Kingdom General Election, 2010.
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  • 2009
    Age 62
    Straw represented the government on a controversial edition of Question Time on 22 October 2009, against British National Party leader Nick Griffin on his first ever appearance.
    More Details Hide Details Griffin's first comment was to attack Straw's father's wartime record, to general disdain. As Griffin claimed that European laws prevented him from explaining his stance on holocaust denial Straw later offered his personal assurance as Justice Secretary, which Griffin declined. Andrew Thorpe-Apps, writing in the Backbencher, states that Straw knew he would be defeated by Gordon Brown in a leadership contest as Brown was 'consumed by this one ambition.' Two months after learning that MP's expenses were to be made public, Straw wrote to the fees office to confirm that he had over-claimed on the Council Tax for his constituency home. He attributed this to an oversight – he had been entitled to a 'non-occupancy' discount of 50% for four consecutive years, but had continued to claim expenses for the full rate of Council Tax. Included with the letter was a cheque for the amount he believed he had overcharged, which itself turned out to have been miscalculated, leading Straw to send a further cheque with a note saying "accountancy does not appear to be my strongest suit".
    In February 2009, Straw used his authority as Justice Secretary to veto publication of government documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act: in particular, those pertaining to early government meetings held in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003.
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  • 2007
    Age 60
    Straw was appointed Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and Secretary of State for Justice on the first full day of Gordon Brown's ministry, 28 June 2007.
    More Details Hide Details He was the first Lord Chancellor since the sixteenth century to serve in the role whilst a member of the House of Commons. His appointment meant that he continued to be a major figure in the Labour Government. Only Straw, Brown and Alistair Darling served in the cabinet continuously during Labour's 13-year government from 1997 to 2010.
    In 2007 the Union Council reinstated his life membership and place on the Presidents' Board.
    More Details Hide Details Straw subsequently qualified as a barrister at Inns of Court School of Law, practising criminal law for two years from 1972 to 1974. He is a member of The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple and remains active in lecturing to fellow members and students.
  • FIFTIES
  • 2006
    Age 59
    In October 2006 Straw attracted controversy by suggesting to a local newspaper, The Lancashire Evening Telegraph (now The Lancashire Telegraph), that Muslim women who wear veils that cover their faces (the niqab) can inhibit inter-community relations, though he denied the issue was raised for political gain, stating that he had raised it in private circles in the past and it had never progressed beyond discussions.
    More Details Hide Details Although he did not support a law banning a woman's right to choose to wear the veil, he would like them to abandon it altogether. Asked whether he would prefer veils to be abolished completely, Straw said: "Yes. It needs to be made clear I am not talking about being prescriptive but with all the caveats, yes, I would rather." He said that he had asked women visiting his constituency surgeries to consider uncovering their noses and mouths in order to allow better communication. He claimed that no women had ever chosen to wear a full veil after this request. Straw's comments kicked off a wide-ranging and sometimes harshly worded debate within British politics and the media; Straw was supported by some establishment figures and castigated by others, including Muslim groups. There is an ongoing debate within the Muslim community whether the Qur'an and hadith (traditions of Muhammad) require the use of the full face veil.
    In August 2006, it was claimed by William Rees-Mogg in The Times that there was evidence that Straw was removed from this post upon the request of the Bush administration, possibly owing to his expressed opposition to bombing Iran.
    More Details Hide Details This would be ironic, as Richard Ingrams in The Independent wondered whether Straw's predecessor as Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, was also removed at Bush's request, allowing Straw to become Foreign Secretary in the first place. It has also been alleged that another factor in Straw's dismissal was the large number of Muslims amongst his Blackburn constituents, supposedly considered a cause for concern by the US. Some Iranian dissidents mocked Straw as "Ayatollah Straw" after his frequent visits to Tehran in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks. Straw gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January 2010, making him the second member of Tony Blair's cabinet to do so. He told the inquiry that the decision to go to war in Iraq had "haunted him" and that it was the "most difficult decision" of his life. He also said that he could have stopped the invasion, had he wanted to.
    In February 2006, Straw attracted publicity after he condemned the publication of cartoons picturing Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
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  • 2005
    Age 58
    On 13 October 2005 Straw took questions from a public panel of individuals in a BBC Newsnight television special on the subject of Iraq, addressing widespread public concerns about the exit strategy for British troops, the Iraqi insurgency and, inevitably, the moral legitimacy of the war.
    More Details Hide Details On several occasions Straw reiterated his position that the decision to invade was in his opinion the right thing to do, but said he did not 'know' for certain that this was the case. He said he understood why public opinion on several matters might differ from his own—a Newsnight/ICM poll showed over 70% of respondents believed the war in Iraq to have increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks in Britain, but Straw said he could not agree based on the information presented to him.
    At the 2005 Labour Conference, the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was heckled by Walter Wolfgang, a German Jew who had suffered persecution under the Nazis, and a prominent Labour Party member.
    More Details Hide Details At a point when Straw claimed his support for the invasion of Iraq was solely for the purpose of supporting the Iraqi government, 82-year-old Wolfgang was heard to shout "Nonsense", and was forcibly removed from the auditorium by several bouncers. The incident gained considerable publicity, with party chairman Ian McCartney initially supporting the right to remove hecklers by force. McCartney, PM Tony Blair and other senior Labour members later issued apologies; Wolfgang was later elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
    In the run up to the 2005 general election Straw faced a potential backlash from his Muslim constituents over the Iraq War – the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPAC) attempted to capitalise on anti-war sentiment with 'operation Muslim vote' in Blackburn.
    More Details Hide Details The swing to the second placed Conservatives was less than 2%, much lower than the national average; the Liberal Democrat's increase in vote share (+12.5%) surpassed Labour's loss (-12.1%). Craig Murray, who had been withdrawn as the ambassador to Uzbekistan, stood against his former boss (Straw was then Foreign Secretary) on a platform opposing the use of information gathered under torture in the "War on Terror"; he received a 5% vote share. Straw was re-elected, and following his victory called MPAC an "egregious group", and criticised their tactics during the election.
  • 2004
    Age 57
    In the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt, Jack Straw was personally informed months in advance of the plans for the takeover attempt and failed to accomplish the duty under international law of alerting the country's government.
    More Details Hide Details The involvement of British oil companies in the funding of the coup d'état, and the changing of British citizens evacuation plans for Equatorial Guinea before the attempt, posed serious challenges for the alleged ignorance of the situation. Later on, British officials and Jack Straw were forced to apologise to The Observer after categorically denying they had prior knowledge of the coup plot.
    In a letter to The Independent in 2004, he claimed that Trotskyists "can usually now be found in the City, appearing on quiz shows or ranting in certain national newspapers," and recommended "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin.
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  • 2001
    Age 54
    In late September 2001, he became the first senior British government minister to visit Iran since the 1979 Revolution. In 2003 the governments of the USA and UK agreed a new Extradition Treaty between them, intended to speed up extradition of terrorist suspects.
    More Details Hide Details The provisions of the treaty were enacted in the Extradition Act 2003. The treaty later attracted controversy with opponents alleging it to be one-sided: a British request to the USA needed to provide a prima facie case against a suspect while a US request to Britain needed only to provide reasonable suspicion for an arrest. There have been a series of causes célèbres involving the treaty, including the NatWest Three who later pleaded guilty to fraud against the US parent company of their employers, and Gary McKinnon who admitted hacking US defence computers. An inquiry into extradition arrangements by retired Judge Sir Scott Baker reported in September 2011 that the treaty was not unbalanced and "there is no practical difference between the information submitted to and from the United States".
    He was instead appointed Foreign Secretary in 2001 to succeed Robin Cook.
    More Details Hide Details Within months, Straw was confronted by the 11 September attacks in the United States. He was initially seen as taking a back seat to Tony Blair in Her Majesty's Government's prosecution of the "war against terrorism".
  • 2000
    Age 53
    Also in 2000, Straw turned down an asylum request from a man fleeing Saddam Hussein's regime, stating "we have faith in the integrity of the Iraqi judicial process and that you should have no concerns if you haven’t done anything wrong."
    More Details Hide Details He worried, along with William Hague, about the possibility of English nationalism: "As we move into this new century, people's sense of Englishness will become more articulated and that's partly because of the mirror that devolution provides us with and because we're becoming more European at the same time."
    In March 2000, Jack Straw was responsible for allowing former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to return to Chile.
    More Details Hide Details There were requests from several countries for Pinochet to be extradited and face trial for crimes against humanity. Pinochet was placed under house arrest in Britain while appealing the legal authority of the Spanish and British courts to try him, but Straw eventually ordered his release on medical grounds before a trial could begin, and Pinochet returned to Chile. The Rotherham sexual abuse scandal continued at this time, and according to the Telegraph, Straw had highlighted the problem four years prior to the Jay Report being published, saying “ there was a "specific problem" in some areas of the country where Pakistani men "target vulnerable young white girls". White girls were, he said, viewed as “easy meat”.
    A motion of Leeds University Union Council in 2000 removed Jack Straw's life membership of the Union and removed his name from the Presidents' Board, citing his support for asylum and immigration bill and limits to trial by jury and legal aid.
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  • 1998
    Age 51
    He supports his local football club Blackburn Rovers, and was made an honorary vice president of them in 1998 by Jack Walker.
    More Details Hide Details Straw has suffered from depression and tinnitus.
  • 1997
    Age 50
    On 31 July 1997, Straw ordered a public inquiry, to be conducted by Sir William Macpherson and officially titled "The Inquiry into the Matters Arising from the Death of Stephen Lawrence".
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    Appointed as Home Secretary after the 1997 general election, he brought forward the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, increased police powers against terrorism and proposed to remove the right to trial by jury in certain cases.
    More Details Hide Details These policies won praise from Margaret Thatcher who once declared "I would trust Jack Straw's judgement. He is a very fair man." They were deemed excessively authoritarian by his former students' union, which in 2000 banned him from the building—a policy which lapsed in 2003. However, he also incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, finalising the de jure abolition of the death penalty with the passage of the Human Rights Act 1998.
    He held two of the traditional Great Offices of State, as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001 and Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006 under Blair.
    More Details Hide Details From 2007 to 2010 he served as Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice throughout Brown's Premiership. Straw is one of only three individuals to have served in Cabinet continuously under the Labour government from 1997 to 2010, the others being Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. After the Labour Party lost power in May 2010, Straw briefly served as Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Justice Secretary, with the intention to stand down from the frontbench after the subsequent 2010 Labour Shadow Cabinet election.
  • FORTIES
  • 1992
    Age 45
    Straw briefly served as Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment under John Smith from 1992 to 1994, speaking on matters concerning local government.
    More Details Hide Details When Tony Blair became leader after Smith's death, he chose Straw to succeed him as Shadow Home Secretary. Like Blair, Straw believed Labour's electoral chances had been damaged in the past by the party appearing to be "soft on crime" and he developed a reputation as being even more authoritarian than the Conservative Home Secretary Michael Howard. Straw garnered particular attention for comments condemning "aggressive beggars, winos and squeegee merchants" and calling for a curfew on children.
  • 1987
    Age 40
    Straw's first Shadow Cabinet post was as Education spokesman from 1987.
    More Details Hide Details In this role, he called on local education authorities to give private Muslim and Orthodox Jewish schools the right to opt out of the state system and still receive public funds. He also stated that the schools should be free to enter the state system. His comments came at a time of great controversy regarding the funding of Muslim schools. Straw argued that the controversy arose out of ignorance and stereotyping about women's role in Islam, pointing out that Muslim women acquired property rights centuries before European women.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1981
    Age 34
    The report found that there had been a failure of leadership by senior MPS officers and that recommendations of the 1981 Scarman Report, compiled following race-related riots in Brixton and Toxteth, had been ignored and concluded that the force was "institutionally racist".
    More Details Hide Details It also recommended that the double jeopardy rule should be abrogated in murder cases to allow a retrial upon new and compelling evidence; this became law in 2005. Straw commented in 2012 that ordering the inquiry was "the single most important decision I made as Home Secretary". As Home Secretary, Straw was also involved in changing the electoral system for the European Parliament elections from plurality to proportional representation. In doing so, he advocated the use of d'Hondt formula as being the one that produces the most proportional outcomes. The d'Hondt formular, however, is less proportional to the Sainte-Laguë formula which was proposed by the Liberal Democrats. Straw later apologised to the House of Commons for his misleading comments, but the d'Hondt formula stayed in place.
  • 1979
    Age 32
    He won the seat in 1979.
    More Details Hide Details On 25 October 2013 he announced that he would stand down as an MP at the next election.
    He was later selected to stand for Labour in its safe Blackburn seat at the 1979 General Election.
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  • 1978
    Age 31
    On 10 November 1978 he married Alice Perkins, a senior civil servant.
    More Details Hide Details In 2006 Straw's wife joined the board of the country's largest airports operator BAA, shortly before it was taken over by the Spanish firm Ferrovial. They have two adult children, Will and Charlotte.
  • 1977
    Age 30
    Straw was selected to stand for Parliament for the Lancashire constituency of Blackburn in 1977, after Barbara Castle decided not to seek re-election there.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1974
    Age 27
    Straw stood unsuccessfully as the Labour parliamentary candidate for the safe Conservative Tonbridge and Malling constituency in the February 1974 election.
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    He served as a political adviser to Barbara Castle at the Department of Social Security from 1974 to 1976, and as an adviser to Peter Shore at the Department for the Environment from 1976 to 1977.
    More Details Hide Details From 1977 to 1979, Straw worked as a researcher for the Granada TV series, World in Action.
  • 1971
    Age 24
    Between 1971 and 1974, Jack Straw was a member of the Inner London Education Authority, and Deputy Leader from 1973 to 1974.
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    In 1971, he was elected as a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Islington, a position he held until 1978.
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  • 1969
    Age 22
    However, he was elected as NUS President in 1969, holding this post until 1971.
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  • 1968
    Age 21
    Straw's first marriage, in 1968, to teacher Anthea Weston, ended in divorce in 1977.
    More Details Hide Details They had a daughter, Rachel, born on 24 February 1976, who died after five days because of a heart defect.
    In April 1968, he stood unsuccessfully for election as NUS President, to be defeated by Trevor Fisk.
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  • 1967
    Age 20
    Straw was then elected president of the Leeds University Union. At the 1967 National Union of Students (NUS) Conference, he unsuccessfully ran for office in the NUS.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1946
    Born
    Born on August 3, 1946.
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