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Dame Caroline Spelman
Official portrait of Dame Caroline Spelman crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
Second Church Estates Commissioner
In office
21 May 2015 – 12 December 2019
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Boris Johnson
Preceded by Tony Baldry
Succeeded by Andrew Selous
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Hilary Benn
Succeeded by Owen Paterson
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
2 July 2007 – 19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Francis Maude
Succeeded by Eric Pickles
Member of Parliament
for Meriden
In office
1 May 1997 – 6 November 2019
Preceded by Iain Mills
Succeeded by Saqib Bhatti
Personal details
Caroline Alice Cormack

(1958-05-04) 4 May 1958 (age 66)
Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England
Political party Conservative
Mark Spelman
(m. 1987)
Children 3
Residences London, England
Algarve, Portugal
Alma mater Queen Mary College, University of London

Dame Caroline Alice Spelman DBE (née Cormack; born 4 May 1958) is a British Conservative Party politician who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Meriden in the West Midlands from 1997 to 2019. From May 2010 to September 2012 she was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in David Cameron's coalition cabinet, and was sworn as a Privy Counsellor on 13 May 2010.


Born in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, Spelman attended the Hertfordshire and Essex High School for Girls (now called The Hertfordshire and Essex High School), in Bishop's Stortford, and received a BA First Class in European Studies from Queen Mary College, University of London.

Early career

She was Sugar Beet commodity secretary for the National Farmers' Union from 1981 to 1984. She was deputy director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (officially known as La Confédération Internationale des Betteraviers Européens – CIBE) in Paris from 1984–9, then a research fellow for the Centre for European Agricultural Studies (part of the University of Kent and since 2000 known as the Centre for European Agri-Environmental Economics) from 1989 to 1993. She co-owns Spelman, Cormack & Associates, a lobbying firm for the food and biotechnology industry, with her husband.

Parliamentary career

Before entering Parliament in 1997, she stood unsuccessfully in the Bassetlaw constituency in Nottinghamshire at the 1992 general election.

In 2001, Iain Duncan Smith appointed Spelman Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, a post she maintained until Duncan Smith's departure as Conservative Party leader. Duncan Smith's successor, Michael Howard, opted for a streamlined Shadow Cabinet and omitted Spelman; however, he later appointed her as a front bench spokeswoman on Environmental Affairs working for Theresa May. In March 2004, Spelman re-entered the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Local and Devolved Government Affairs, succeeding David Curry. Under David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party, in 2007 she was promoted further to become Conservative Party Chairman.

In 2009, Spelman was moved in another reshuffle to the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replacing Eric Pickles. In 2012, Spelman returned to the Commons backbenches.

Spelman served as Second Church Estates Commissioner from 2015 to 2019.

Spelman was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.

In January 2019 MPs approved a symbolic, non-binding amendment, tabled by Spelman, to prevent a no-deal Brexit, by 318 votes to 310.

Following abuse and death threats over Brexit, Spelman announced in September 2019 that she would not seek re-election at the next general election.


In 2009, during the expenses scandal it was reported that Spelman had received £40,000 for cleaning and bills for her constituency home; this was despite her husband claiming it was their main home. In 2008 she reportedly over-claimed hundreds of pounds towards her council tax.

Privacy injunction

On 24 February 2012, the High Court in London refused to continue a privacy injunction previously granted to prevent the publication of a news item in the Daily Star Sunday involving her son. Judge Michael Tugendhat said that the injunction was "not necessary or proportionate". On 2 March 2012, the Spelmans decided not to appeal against the decision, which permitted the publication of a story about her son. The Spelman family was required to pay the legal costs of the Daily Star Sunday, in addition to their own legal costs of £60,994.

Personal life

She married Mark Spelman, a senior partner at Accenture, on 25 April 1987 in south-east Kent. Her husband stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2009 European elections for the West Midlands region. They have two sons and a daughter. In 1997, Spelman was the only Conservative MP who was also a mother of school-age children; the Conservative party instructed that her children should be educated in her constituency as a condition of her selection as MP. As a result, Spelman rarely saw her children and she found this period of her life very stressful, losing a significant amount of weight.

The couple own a constituency home, a London townhouse and a villa in Algarve, Portugal.

She is a Patron of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.

Spelman was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for political and public service as part of the Resignation Honours of the outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron.

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