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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 22:31 GMT
Dr John Reid: Profile
John Reid
It is John Reid's fourth political job
Dr John Reid has taken on the most challenging job of his political career, that of Northern Ireland Secretary.

The MP for Hamilton North, who vacates the post of Scottish Secretary, has had a strong track record north of the Border, but he has been known to hold wider ambitions.

BBC Scotland's Westminster correspondent David Porter said of Dr Reid: "Many regard him as a very good operator, he is thought of as a safe pair of hands.

"He was close by to defend the government when it became clear that former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Mandelson was about to go on Wednesday."

Dr John Reid
Dr Reid: Seen as a safe pair of hands
Dr Reid will be the first Roman Catholic to take on the post of Northern Ireland secretary.

For the 53-year-old it is his fourth government job in as many years.

After Labour's general election victory in 1997 he was made armed forces minister before moving to transport.

He was then promoted to the post of Scottish secretary in 1999 after the Scottish parliamentary elections.

At the last major reshuffle, despite being tipped to become the UK's defence secretary, Dr Reid was left to handle politics north of the Border at a tricky time both professionally and personally.

'Lobbygate affair'

Regular media reports were filed on the so-called "turf wars" between Dr Reid and the late first minister Donald Dewar.

The reshuffle was also badly timed, given its close proximity to the "lobbygate affair" which led to allegations that parliamentary lobbyists were gaining inappropriate access to Scottish ministers.

Dr Reid was embroiled in an embarrassing episode involving his lobbyist son Kevin Reid who was filmed during an undercover operation by The Observer newspaper saying he knew the Scottish secretary "very, very well .... he is my father."

The apparent differences between Dr Reid and Mr Dewar were further evident in autumn 1999 when it was reported that there was "open hostility" between the pair at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth.

At the time Dr Reid reportedly accused the first minister of "betrayal" over his call for a public inquiry into Kevin Reid's involvement in "lobbygate".

Dr Reid is viewed by many of his colleagues as one of the most poplar and colourful characters in politics.

Personal tragedy

His close friend, Des Brown, MP for Kilmarnock and Louden, describes him as a "safe pair of hands" who is "quick-witted", popular among MPs and well suited to the challenges of the Northern Ireland Office.

Born on 8 May 1947, he graduated from Stirling University, with an honours degree in history and a PhD in economic history.

Dr John Reid
Dr Reid is also viewed as a troubleshooter
Personal tragedy affected his life in 1998 when his wife Cathy died suddenly from a heart attack.

The couple met at a school party while both were still teenagers and went on to have two sons.

Two years after the death of his wife he started a relationship with his present partner, film-maker Karine Addler.

Dr Reid lists his hobbies as football, history, crosswords and playing the guitar.

At the end of 1999, Dr Reid was voted "Scotland's Champion Smoker" by campaign group Freedom to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest).

In January last year he was named an honorary member of the Scottish group The Big Elastic Band and promised to play guitar on their next album.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Des Brown, MP for Kilmarnock
"He is a safe pair of hands who is quick witted and popular"
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24 Jan 01 | N Ireland
24 Jan 01 | Scotland
24 Jan 01 | Scotland
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