Skip to main content

Where are they now?

A disastrous stint as education secretary extinguished the bright political career of the minister with the bouffant hairdo

His claim to notoriety?

Deeply unpopular education secretary, appointed in 1992. John Major sacked him in 1994 following Birmingham CEO Tim Brighouse's out-of-court settlement after Patten described him as a "nutter" and a "madman". Brighouse invested some of the rumoured pound;90,000 into the University of the First Age.

Patten went into purdah for two months on gaining office, alienated the unions and was forced to back down on testing. Alleged to favour Vidal Sassoon and a powder puff for TV appearances.

And his current whereabouts?

A 17th-century manor house in the West Country with high-flying businesswoman wife, Louise, 14-year-old daughter, Mary Claire, ponies and cats. Sometimes seen in the City as non-executive director of various companies including Alfred McAlpine and Lockheed Martin. Occasionally in the House of Lords. He was created a life peer, Baron Patten of Wincanton in Somerset, by Mr Major in 1997.

How successful is his business career?

His year as chairman of bio-technology company Cortecs saw losses grwing to pound;22 million, a share price crash from 200p to 14p and an out-of-court settlement to his predecessor. None of it was down to him, the company said.

Any current education links?

Non-executive director of Amey, the builders, who will give pound;2m to the East Middlesbrough City Academy.

He wrote books, didn't he?

His last, published in 1995, Things to Come: the Tories in the 21st Century, was remaindered to pound;1 in the Conservative Central Office bookshop.

What others said of him "He is so ambitious that he squeaks when he walks, and cannot manage to smile at any colleague inferior in rank." Alan Clark in his diaries.

What he said himself "I'll eat my academic hat garnished" if by the time of the election (1997) more than half of England's secondary schools were not grant-maintained. They weren't but he didn't.

Future prospects Likely to spend more time with his family.


1945 born July 17

1972 PhD Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

1969-1979 lecturer at Oxford University and Tory MP

1980-92 minister for Northern Ireland, environment and Home Office

1992-1994 Education Secretary

1997 life peerage

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you