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Friday, August 6, 1999 Published at 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK

UK Politics

Rod Richards: A career profile

Rod Richards is known as "Rottweiler"

The Conservative Leader in Wales Rod Richards has carved out a reputation for himself as an effective - but abrasive - politician.

Dubbed by Welsh political commentators as "the man they love to hate", outspoken Mr Richards began attacking Labour and Plaid Cymru with relish as soon as the Assembly became established in May.

He has frequently hit out at the cost of building a new permanent £12.5m home for the Assembly in Cardiff Bay.

Lost his seat

He became Welsh party leader in an election last autumn, defeating mild-mannered law lecturer Nick Bourne, who was then widely regarded as William Hague's first choice for the job.

Born in Llanelli and Welsh speaking, Richards was elected to the Commons in 1992 but lost his Clwyd North West seat in the 1997 General Election.

Under former Conservative Welsh Secretary John Redwood he was widely known in parliamentary circles as "Redwood's Rottweiler" because of his fierce and tenacious contribution to debates on Welsh issues.

Newspaper allegations

He was forced to resign as a Welsh Office junior minister in 1996 when revelations about his private life appeared in a Sunday tabloid newspaper.

Married with three children, Richards was educated at Llandovery College and University College, Swansea.

A former economic forecaster, he also served on the intelligence staff of the Ministry of Defence.

He worked as a BBC Welsh language news and current affairs broadcaster before entering politics.

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