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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 17:10 GMT
Profile: Patrick Mercer
Patrick Mercer
Mr Mercer entered Parliament in 2001
Conservative Patrick Mercer, 50, has been an MP since 2001 when he won the seat of Newark.

Prior to Parliament he had spent 25 years as an Army officer with the Sherwood Foresters, serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Uganda and other countries.

He received a gallantry commendation in 1990, an MBE in 1992 and an OBE in 1997 for services in Bosnia

After a stint as the regiment's commanding officer - becoming the youngest full colonel since World War II - he stood down to pursue his political career.

Varied career

But before he got to Westminster he worked as a freelance journalist, including a job as a defence correspondent on Radio 4's Today programme, as well as writing on military history and travel for the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph.

He also did a stint in East Timor developing defence strategy, and has written books with titles such as Give Them a Volley and Charge! (a study of the battle of Inkerman).

His Parliamentary career began with the 2001 election when he overturned a Labour majority of 3,000.

High profile

He was appointed to the frontbench by Iain Duncan Smith and, in a sign of the regard in which he was held, he was kept in the post as homeland security spokesman under his successors Michael Howard and David Cameron.

His role has been a high-profile one in the light of terror threats and the Conservatives' commitment to making homeland security a key Cabinet job.

But he was demoted to the backbenches on 8 March by Mr Cameron after saying that during his Army career he had seen "a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours."

Born in 1956, he was the son of an Anglican clergyman who went on to become the Bishop of Exeter.

He was a pupil at the King's School, Chester, before studying modern history at Oxford University and attending the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

He is married with one son and lives just outside Newark.

His interests include British 18th and 19th Century history, watercolour painting and country sports.

Reaction to Patrick Mercer's comments
08 Mar 07 |  UK Politics

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