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Profile: Peter Hain
Elizabeth Haywood and Peter Hain
Mr Hain remarried in June 2003
Back in 1969, when a 16-year-old Tony Blair was still at school, Peter Hain was one of the most famous political activists in the country.

As a South African ex-pat anti-apartheid activist, he was the leader of a campaign of direct action aimed at disrupting the all-white South African rugby team's tour of the UK.

He became chairman of the Young Liberals in 1971 and continued to be a prominent activist throughout the 1970s.

The South African security services even attempted to have him framed for a bank robbery in 1975, but he was acquitted of all charges.

He joined the Labour Party in 1977 and spent his career as a trade union official until entering the Commons at a 1991 by-election.

His left-wing credentials were established by his prominence within the Tribune Group and repeatedly underscored by his performance in the Commons.

Foreign Office job

Nonetheless, he found a place on the New Labour frontbench and became a junior Welsh Office minister in 1997, where he found himself responsible for managing Alun Michael's campaign for the leadership of Welsh Labour.

Mr Hain was moved to the Foreign Office as minister for Africa, where he enjoyed a much higher profile than is normal for that role with interventions over Zimbabwe.

After a short stint at the Department of Trade and Industry as energy minister, he returned to the FCO after the 2001 election as minister for Europe.

Mr Hain used to be known as one of the more Eurosceptic Labour MPs but soon became one of the government's most enthusiastic promoters of the prospect of British entry into the European single currency.

He is seen as trusted by Mr Blair to sometimes say things the prime minister cannot - and his tax proposals will be seen in that light.

It is inconceivable that his speech was not approved by Mr Blair.

In the debate over the euro, Mr Hain has been vocal in backing the currency - and was again seen as reflecting the views of Downing Street.

He replaced Paul Murphy as Secretary of State for Wales in October 2002 - although since the post-devolution role is not the most demanding in the cabinet, he also retained his place on the Convention on the Future of Europe.

In that role he played a key part negotiating on behalf of the UK as delegates hammered out proposals for the way the EU will work after it welcomes 10 new countries.

Mr Hain tied the knot for the second time in June 2003, marrying award-winning businesswoman Elizabeth Haywood, 47.

He did that having just moved up another rung in the cabinet, taking over from John Reid as Leader of the House of Commons.

As part of the reshuffle, he also retained the role of Welsh secretary following Tony Blair's controversial constitutional shake-up.

Mr Hain was born in Nairobi and brought up in South Africa. He was educated at Pretoria Boys High School, the University of London and Sussex University.

Peter Hain
17 Oct 02  |  Politics

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