Andrew MacKinlay

Last updated

Andrew MacKinlay
Member of Parliament
for Thurrock
In office
9 April 1992 12 April 2010
Preceded by Timothy Janman
Succeeded by Jackie Doyle-Price
Personal details
Born (1949-04-24) 24 April 1949 (age 71)
London, England, UK
Political party Labour
Spouse(s)Ruth Segar; 3 children

Andrew Stuart MacKinlay (born 24 April 1949) is a former British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Thurrock from 1992 until he stepped down at the 2010 general election.


Early life

MacKinlay was educated variously at St Joseph's School, Wembley; [1] Our Lady Immaculate Primary School, Tolworth; [2] Salesian College (a private Catholic school at the time), now a comprehensive called Salesian School, (Highfield Road, Chertsey), and Kingston College. He worked from 1965 as a committee clerk with Surrey County Council until 1975, when he served as a union official with the National and Local Government Officers Association (NALGO). He joined NALGO in 1965. He joined the Labour Party in 1966. MacKinlay was elected councillor in 1971 in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and served for seven years. [3]

Parliamentary career

He stood unsuccessfully for Labour in the following elections:

In 2003, MacKinlay famously described Dr David Kelly as "chaff" during Dr. Kelly's appearance before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. The Committee was investigating issues around the British government's dossier on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Mackinlay's question was:

I reckon you are chaff; you have been thrown up to divert our probing. Have you ever felt like a fall-guy? You have been set up, have you not? [4]

So in this context "chaff" is a reference to the radar countermeasure rather than to something of little value. [5]

It emerged during Kelly's subsequent inquest that Kelly had been deeply upset by his treatment before the Committee and had privately described an MP, assumed to be MacKinlay, as an "utter bastard". [6] [7] MacKinlay reportedly apologised to Kelly's widow for the remark. [8]

According to one report, in May 2007, MacKinlay made the nomination that resulted in Gordon Brown having enough nominations to be certain of not facing a contest over the leadership of the party. [9] However, another report states that the decisive nomination was made by Tony Wright [10] with MacKinlay yet to nominate at that point.

Notice of resignation

On 24 July 2009, he announced that he would not stand at the next General Election due to disillusionment with the way he felt other MPs had caved in to party pressure rather than standing up for their beliefs. [11] He said that the final straw was the failure of a number of Labour MPs who had expressed support for Gary McKinnon, awaiting extradition to the U.S. on computer hacking charges, to vote for a review of the extradition treaty. [12]

Damages win

On 1 October 2009, MacKinlay accepted a public apology and libel damages from the BBC over allegations made on BBC2’s Newsnight programme that he proposed an amendment to a British government motion on expenses of MPs so he would benefit financially. [13] [14] [15]

Afghanistan war

On 4 September 2009, MacKinlay supported the views of Eric Joyce on the Afghanistan war. [ clarification needed ] [16] [17]

Ireland & the Commonwealth

Mackinlay argued that initiatives should be taken to encourage Ireland to participate in the Commonwealth. [18] He brought forward a motion on the issue in the House of Commons. [18] Ireland had participated in the Commonwealth in the 1930s and 40s. Mackinlay's view was that historians were wrong to say that Ireland had left the Commonwealth in 1949. [18] This was, he said, because the Commonwealth, to the extent that it existed, was nothing like the Commonwealth of today. [18] He felt that the London Declaration formula that permitted republics to participate in the Commonwealth had not been offered to Ireland as an option, though he felt it was not too late to do so. He argued that Ireland should be formally invited to join and that the Commonwealth was its "natural place". [18]

Personal life

He is a keen researcher on World War I history, travelling and discovering Ireland, and is an honorary patron of Tilbury Football Club. He and his wife Ruth (née Segar); have three children. While an MP, he employed his wife as his personal assistant. [19] He is a member of the editorial board of Total Politics , a political magazine, [20] of which his daughter, Sarah, was editor until August 2009. [21] [22]

He was given the Freedom of Gibraltar in 2010. [23] [24]

Political views and controversies

MacKinlay publicly supports the abolition of the monarchy and is identified as a republican. [25]

On 28 June 2008, it was reported by the Mail Online (Daily Mail) website that Mackinlay had received a warning from the Prime Minister's Office after MI5 discovered that he was holding meetings with a suspected Russian spy, Alexander Polyakov, officially a counsellor at the Russian Embassy in London. It was also claimed that MacKinlay had been targeted by aides of Russia's richest man, Oleg Deripaska, as a 'stooge' for use in a High Court battle. [26]

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  1. "Brent Council - Page not found".
  2. "Wayback Machine". 4 October 2007.
  3. Thurrock Labour Party profile Archived 26 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine ; accessed 6 August 2014.
  4. Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence Q167
  5. "Hutton inquiry witness", 29 August 2003; accessed 6 August 2014.
  6. Neil Tweedie and Sandra Laville "'Dad said interrogator MP was utter bastard'", The Daily Telegraph, 2 September 2003; retrieved 29 April 2009.
  7. Andrew Sparrow, "Why MacKinlay the Grand Inquisitor hit a raw nerve", The Daily Telegraph, 2 September 2003; accessed 6 August 2014.
  8. "Committee MP defends relentless grilling of Kelly",; accessed 6 August 2014.
  9. Nick Robinson It's official. It's Brown", 16 May 2007; accessed 6 August 2014.
  10. "Brown will enter No 10 unopposed",, 16 May 2007; accessed 6 August 2014.
  11. "Andrew MacKinlay Quits Parliament",; July 2009.
  12. Matthew Moore (25 July 2009). "Andrew MacKinlay MP quits over hacker Gary McKinnon's extradition". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  13. BBC Andrew MacKinlay MP – an apology
  14. "Labour MP wins apology and damages from BBC",; accessed 6 August 2014.
  15. Oliver Luft MP paid 'substantial damages' over Newsnight slur Archived 16 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine ,, 2 October 2009.
  16. BBC "Joyce quit letter was 'right'",, 4 September 2009.
  17. "Eric Joyce on Afghanistan in resignation letter as Parliamentary Private Secretary",, 3 September 2009, accessed 21 August 2015.
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 24 July 2007: Column 238WH – Ireland and the Commonwealth
  19. "Family jobs and parliamentary passes",, 31 January 2008.
  20. "Total Politics – The Team". Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2008.
  21. "From the Editor" Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine ,, 21 August 2009.
  22. Ask Aristotle: Andrew MacKinlay MP,; accessed 6 August 2014.
  25. List of supporters Archived 31 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine ,; accessed 6 August 2014.
  26. Owen, Glen (28 June 2008). "Labour MP pulled before chief whip for inviting 'Russian spy' to tea in the Commons". Mail Online . Daily Mail . Retrieved 30 June 2008.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Timothy Janman
Member of Parliament for Thurrock
Succeeded by
Jackie Doyle-Price