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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Profile: Barry Legg
Barry Legg
Mr Legg's political fortunes have been a mixed bag

Barry Legg, who has quit as chief executive of the Conservative Party, has had mixed fortunes during his political career.

The former Westminster councillor found himself a seat in Parliament at the 1992 election but went the same way as many Tory colleagues in the cull of 1997 when Labour swept to power.

A chartered accountant by profession, his brief period in the House of Commons was most notable for his tendency to vote against his party alongside Iain Duncan Smith.

Both men were Maastricht rebels and Mr Legg also supported John Redwood's failed leadership bid against John Major.

The arch-Eurosceptic became treasurer of Mr Duncan Smith's successful leadership campaign in 2001 after William Hague quit.

Mr Legg's appointment by the Tory leader to be party chief executive was widely seen as an attempt by Mr Duncan Smith to stamp his authority at Conservative Central Office.

But it made public apparent divisions in the Tory party and caused dissatisfaction among members of the board responsible for such appointments.


Shortly after he was given his job, Mr Legg was reported in the press to have been in discussion with members of the United Kingdom Independence Party - a claim he rejected.

Former Conservative leadership contender Michael Portillo was scathing over the appointment saying: "To surround yourself with lesser people and with people who agree with you is not a sign of strength".

Just a few weeks later Mr Legg would face media questions over his past as a Westminster councillor.

Senior Conservative backbencher Derek Conway called on Mr Duncan Smith to sack his chief executive over his role in moving homeless families into two London tower blocks known to be riddled with asbestos.

The decision was later condemned by a public inquiry.

As company secretary of major food company Hillsdown Holdings, Mr Legg was also involved in a decision to remove an 18m surplus from a pension fund, which a High Court judgment described as unjust and unauthorised.

Grammar school

The company was ordered to repay the money with interest.

Mr Legg told the BBC's Today programme that he had been over-ruled after trying to persuade his company to give pensioners some of the surplus.

"As both the ombudsman and the judge made clear, the trustees were right to be seeking to secure a greater proportion of the surplus for scheme members than the company was willing to offer."

On the council decision, Mr Legg said: "I am afraid that 14 years on, I have no recollection of whether I chaired a meeting of the chairmen's committee in February 1989, nor of what may have been discussed."

The Tories stressed Mr Legg was not chairman of housing at the council and said he did not believe he would put anybody deliberately at risk.

Mr Legg was born on 30 May 1949 and educated at Sir Thomas Rich's Grammar School, Gloucester before going on to study history at Manchester University.

He married Margaret in 1974 and they have one son and two daughters.

He held a series of jobs both in business and as a chartered accountant.

He won the Milton Keynes South seat in 1992 holding until the 1997 election.

Tory calls for Barry Legg sacking
06 May 03  |  Politics
Explaining the Tory splits
20 Feb 03  |  Politics


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