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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 April 2007, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Profile: Des Browne
Des Browne
Mr Browne is a close ally of Chancellor Gordon Brown
Defence Secretary Des Browne - who is coming under pressure over the handling of the British Navy crew captured by Iran last month - has enjoyed a steady rise to prominence.

Elected MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun in 1997, this key ally of Chancellor Gordon Brown is described at Westminster as a "safe pair of hands".

So it is surprising to many that the 55-year-old former solicitor finds himself in his current predicament.

Tory leader David Cameron has said Mr Browne may have to resign if his explanation for allowing the crew to sell their stories to newspapers and TV is not adequate.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said it was wrong "in hindsight".

Mr Browne has accepted full responsibility for the decision but said the sailors and marines held captive had to be able to speak out "to counteract the propaganda the Iranians had put out using them".


He is due to give a full report to Parliament on Monday, with the Tories waiting to see whether to launch a stronger attack on his conduct.

It is the first time Mr Browne's competency as defence secretary has come under such intense scrutiny.

Since he took on the job last year, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - and the question of whether to withdraw or send more troops - has dominated the agenda.

Mr Browne has also been a staunch defender of the government's decision to replace the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system.

He is politically close to his near-namesake Gordon Brown and is thought likely to maintain high-profile role if the chancellor becomes prime minister later this year.

Part of the 1997 general election intake, Mr Browne was close to the late Donald Dewar serving as his parliamentary private secretary during his final year as Scottish secretary.

After the 2001 election, he was appointed a parliamentary secretary to the Northern Ireland Office.


In 2003 he was made work and pensions minister and less than a year later became immigration minister.

Mr Browne entered the Cabinet in 2005, at the chancellor's side as chief secretary to the Treasury, before moving to the defence brief during the reshuffle last May.

BBC Scotland's political correspondent, Glenn Campbell has described Mr Browne as "serious, thorough and careful", adding that he could be summed up as "Mr Middle of the Road".

"If that makes him sound like a typical Scottish solicitor, then that's because he probably is."

Mr Browne was born in Ayrshire in 1952, where he attended St Michael's Academy in Kilwinning. He later attended Glasgow University.

In his previous career he specialised in child and family law and was involved in handling the high-profile Orkney child sex abuse case.

Fellow lawyer Gordon Jackson QC, who has known him since the 1970s, said he had a "natural inclination to be a power behind the throne".

Mr Browne supports Celtic football club, where he attends matches with his wife and two sons.

His early contributions in the Commons were largely on social security reform and the Child Support Agency.

He also made use of his expertise on human rights law to support the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

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