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Friday, March 19, 1999 Published at 14:19 GMT

UK Politics

Brief career of 'parliamentary virgin'

Fiona Jones was among the 1997 intake

Fiona Jones lost her parliamentary seat nearly a year after she claimed she lost her parliamentary virginity in her Commons maiden speech.

Jones' conviction for falsifying her election expenses follows a short and undistinguished parliamentary career.

She was elected as one of "Blair's babes" in 1997 and made her maiden speech in January 1998.

Jones, 41, grew up on a traditional Labour housing estate in Liverpool. Her father was a friend of Eric Heffer.

She is a Roman Catholic who has campaigned against abortion - she appeared with Lord Longford at a Labour conference fringe meeting.

A former journalist, she is married to broadcaster Chris Jones and the couple have two children Hew and Penri.

Jones was also a member of West Lindsey District Council in her home district from 1990 to 1994.

Maiden speech

Her previous attempt to get elected to Parliament was an unsuccessful campaign in the Tory stronghold of Gainsborough and Horncastle.

However, Labour's landslide victory saw Jones elected as the MP for the rural Tory marginal of Newark, ousting Conservative MP Richard Alexander.

Jones was a seemingly archetypal Blair babe, standing feet away from the prime minister at a photo shoot with Labour's women MPs days after the election victory.

However, she was the last of the 242 new MPs elected in May 1997 to make her maiden Commons speech - apart from Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness who did not take up their seats.

During the speech, she said she was glad to lose the title of "the last virgin in the House".

[ image: Fiona Jones: A former journalist]
Fiona Jones: A former journalist
She said: "Having endured through gritted teeth being dubbed a 'Blair's babe', I am grateful at least to have the opportunity to relinquish for ever the title of being the last virgin in the House."

The speech came seven months after the election and was on the subject of the Bank of England.

As an MP, Jones sat on the Agriculture Select Committee.

But in the chamber, she hardly spoke, making few interventions.

Behind the scenes, there was bitter feuding at a local level between old and new Labour.

The dispute bubbled to the surface with the disclosure, to the anger of local activists, of a memo in which Mrs Jones complained that party workers had not put enough effort into campaigning and fund-raising during the election campaign.

She suffered from an e-mail "hate campaign" in August 1998.

Jones was described in one parliamentary guide as "uncommunicative" and has one of the shortest entries in Who's Who.

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