The Lord King of Bridgwater
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
24 July 1989 – 11 April 1992
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded byGeorge Younger
Succeeded byMalcolm Rifkind
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
3 September 1985 – 24 July 1989
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byDouglas Hurd
Succeeded byPeter Brooke
Secretary of State for Employment
In office
16 October 1983 – 2 September 1985
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byNorman Tebbit
Succeeded byThe Lord Young of Graffham
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
11 June 1983 – 16 October 1983
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byDavid Howell
Succeeded byNicholas Ridley
Secretary of State for the Environment
In office
6 January 1983 – 11 June 1983
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byMichael Heseltine
Succeeded byPatrick Jenkin
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy
In office
19 November 1976 – 4 May 1979
LeaderMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Biffen
Succeeded byDavid Owen
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
9 July 2001
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Bridgwater
In office
12 March 1970 – 14 May 2001
Preceded byGerald Wills
Succeeded byIan Liddell-Grainger
Personal details
Born (1933-06-13) 13 June 1933 (age 90)
Rugby, United Kingdom
Political partyConservative
SpouseElizabeth Jane King[1]
Alma materEmmanuel College, Cambridge

Thomas Jeremy King, Baron King of Bridgwater, CH, PC (born 13 June 1933) is a British politician.[2] A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet from 1983 to 1992, and was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Bridgwater in Somerset from 1970 to 2001. He was made a life peer in 2001.

Life and career


King was educated at two independent schools: at St Michael's School, a former boys' preparatory school (later co-educational), in the village of Tawstock in North Devon, followed by Rugby School (Sheriff House), a boarding school for boys in Warwickshire, before attending Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Military service

King was commissioned as an officer in the Somerset Light Infantry in 1952[3] and during his period of national service he was seconded to the King's African Rifles.

Political career

King was elected to Parliament at the 1970 Bridgwater by-election, following the death of the sitting MP, Sir Gerald Wills.

King was brought into the Cabinet in 1983 by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. After brief stints as the Environment Secretary and Transport Secretary, he went on to hold the posts of Employment Secretary and Northern Ireland Secretary at a time when these were high-profile roles with the potential for controversy.

In October 1988, John McCann, Finbar Cullen and Martina Shanahan, all from the Republic of Ireland, were convicted at Winchester Crown Court of conspiracy to murder King near his home in Wiltshire and sentenced to 25 years in gaol. No evidence was produced in the trial that the defendants belonged to the IRA. The trio were freed after serving two and a half years after their convictions were quashed. The Court of Appeal ruled that their trial could have been prejudiced by comments made by King who said the defendants should not have the right to remain silent.[4][5] The former Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning, criticised the Appeal Court ruling, stating: "British justice has been betrayed by the Court of Appeal, in my opinion. Justice was done at Winchester Crown Court."[6]

King went on to serve as Defence Secretary under Prime Minister John Major during the Gulf War. He left the Cabinet following the 1992 general election, and returned to the backbenches where he served as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee from 1994 to 2001, during which time KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin defected to reveal 87-year-old Melita Norwood as a Soviet spy.[7]

King left the House of Commons at the 2001 general election, and was created a life peer as Baron King of Bridgwater, of Bridgwater in the County of Somerset on 9 July 2001.[8] He now sits in the House of Lords. He serves as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Group on National and International Security, which was set up by David Cameron in 2006.[citation needed]

In popular culture

King was portrayed by Peter Blythe in the 2004 BBC production of The Alan Clark Diaries.

King was the subject of a song in the satirical ITV programme Spitting Image in which he was depicted as the Invisible Man during his term as Employment Secretary.


  1. ^ "Elizabeth Jane Tilney". Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  2. ^ "Mr Tom King (Hansard)". Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  3. ^ "No. 39618". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 August 1952. p. 4236.
  4. ^ "Three Convicted of Plot to Kill Ulster Minister". Associated Press. 28 October 1988. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. ^ McGonagle, Suzanne (24 February 2015). "Gun haul 'may have been linked to murder attempt on Tom King'". The Irish News. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Denning condemns freeing of the Winchester Three". The Herald. 30 April 1990. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  7. ^ "More KGB revelations to come". BBC News.
  8. ^ "No. 25048". The Edinburgh Gazette. 13 July 2001. p. 1583.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byGerald Wills Member of Parliament for Bridgwater 19702001 Succeeded byIan Liddell-Grainger Political offices Preceded byMichael Heseltine Secretary of State for the Environment 1983 Succeeded byPatrick Jenkin Preceded byDavid Howell Secretary of State for Transport 1983 Succeeded byNicholas Ridley Preceded byNorman Tebbit Secretary of State for Employment 1983–1985 Succeeded byThe Lord Young of Graffham Preceded byDouglas Hurd Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 1985–1989 Succeeded byPeter Brooke Preceded byGeorge Younger Secretary of State for Defence 1989–1992 Succeeded byMalcolm Rifkind New office Chairperson of the Intelligence and Security Committee 1994–2001 Succeeded byAnn Taylor Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom Preceded byThe Lord Jones GentlemenBaron King of Bridgwater Followed byThe Lord Heseltine