Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Friday, 13 January 2006

Profile: Kim Howells

Kim Howells in 2003
Mr Howells has had a succession of ministerial roles
Kim Howells who is at the centre of a row over allowing a sex offender to work at a school is one of Tony Blair's longest serving junior ministers.

The 59-year-old father of three has served in four separate government departments in roles as diverse as culture spokesman and higher education minister - despite a reputation for speaking his mind.

In the past, the former TV presenter has called the Royal Family "a bit bonkers", accused the Welsh of taking themselves too seriously and has said Somerset folk music was his idea of hell.

As culture minister, he grabbed headlines after branding entries for art's Turner Prize "cold, mechanical conceptual bullshit".

Miner's strike

Launching a pop music project for young people he said: "The arts have been in the grip of a bunch of constipated old wrinklies for far too long."

The following month he warned the Welsh film industry against a "ghetto mentality".

The Pontypridd MP is now a foreign office minister responsible for the Middle East Peace Process, Afghanistan and the United Nations.

A former Communist, he was a leading figure in the 1984 miners' strike in South Wales, though an opponent of Arthur Scargill.

In 2004 he admitted destroying union records because he was afraid police would raid the office when a taxi driver was killed taking miners to work.

Humour

Although the driver's death was unrelated to any union work, Mr Howells said he felt the police would use the incident as an excuse to raid the NUM offices and get hold of their plans for running the strike.

After making the admission in a BBC Wales documentary he went voluntarily to the police but they decided not to charge him.

After becoming an MP in 1989, Mr Howells moderated his firebrand style and was quickly promoted into the first of a succession of ministerial roles.

A keen amateur artist, Mr Howells is known for his wicked sense of humour.

According to comic actor and fellow Welshman Rob Bryden, Mr Howells' is a "good laugh", who is noted for his impression of Ronnie Corbett.

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