was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor in April 2020.
Huw Spanner met him on Skype on 18 May 2020.
Photography: Andrew Firth
Can you talk a bit about your upbringing and how you think it shaped you as a man?
Initially, it was this parochial, working-class upbringing in inner-city Tottenham, in a very West Indian home. I didn’t stray much beyond N17, so wider England was a mysterious thing.
At my primary school, all the teachers were white. It was a tough atmosphere – one was aware of tensions and there were quite a lot of fights. There was quite a lot of domestic violence on my street, too.
And then at the age of 10 I won a choral scholarship to [The King’s School] in Peterborough. I was so fortunate, it makes me emotional thinking about it – to go to such a wonderful school with such wonderful teachers and such wonderful facilities.
I was privileged – and yet it was tough psychologically. I was much more aware of racism in Peterborough, and then there was suddenly this huge impostor syndrome that you experience when you’re working-class, because you don’t know how to hold your knife and fork properly, you’re aware that your elocution could be better and you feel inadequate when you go to friends’ homes and they’ve got Agas and massive fridges full of food.
The contrast between Tottenham and Peterborough is what first opened my eyes to the very idea of injustice. I saw that there was a different Britain and I wanted some of it, [while] the stigma that started to attach to Tottenham because of the 1985 riot1See bbc.co.uk/news. made me very aware that my postcode almost predetermined who I was. I quickly became aware that I wanted a bigger life than my parents.
Tell me about them.
They both seemed to work hard and to be constantly stressed. My mother was constantly worried about money.
I was a precocious child. I was very ambitious, with a determination to succeed against the odds
My dad was a taxidermist. He had a factory and it was a wonderful place to roam as a child, with the smell of chemicals and these huge animals that he was building. He was a very creative and ambitious man, but he was a very poor businessman. He drank a lot, was promiscuous, really, and had quite a tempestuous relationship with my mother.
My mother was shy but she was very aspirant for her kids and she believed very strongly in education as a route out to success. She’d left school at 14 or 15 and I think she desperately wished that she could have stayed on.
What sort of values did they instil in you?
I was encouraged to have a degree of self-belief, I think, which assisted me a lot. I was a precocious child, and my mother encouraged that. I was very ambitious, with a determination to succeed against the odds.
My father bought me an atlas and talked a lot about seeing the world. He was unusual for a West Indian of his era in that he was very comfortable with different kinds of people. He loved to invite people back to our home, and that’s assisted me a lot.
My mother was quite a strong Christian – so was my father, in fact – and they had ended up at this Anglo-Catholic church where they felt at home because that’s the tradition they were from in Guyana. I’ve always retained my Christian values.
How did the departure of your father when you were 12 affect you?
I felt lost for years. I felt deeply inadequate. I felt a powerful sense of shame – it was an era in which to be raised by a single parent wasn’t great. And I think that, as a young black man, not having a powerful male figure was really dislocating for me. It was a wound that I carried around well into my twenties.
However, I did search out lots of others to fill the void – teachers, youth workers, uncles, a lot of wonderful people who were happy for me to sort of latch onto them, thank God, and were very helpful and supportive. And then there were people like Nelson Mandela, whose posters I had all over my bedroom walls.
You mentioned your Christian values. In a recent interview,2By Alastair Campbell in GQ you said that ‘God for me is cultural.’ What did you mean by that?
I think what I meant is [that] I’m not in the business of forcing my faith down anybody else’s throat – I can’t really stand the proselytising Christian traditions. Because I lost my father, and my mother died over a decade ago, my faith has been cultural. When I’m in a church, it locates me in something of my family, it locates me in those early years in Peterborough as a cathedral chorister; and those are comforting feelings, I guess. In that sense, [my faith] is terribly British. It’s the bells-and-smells stuff that I find culturally very comforting.
It occurred to me that I was English when I was working in California. I missed Ribena and Walkers crisps and rugby fields and the BBC. I had to come home – I was deeply homesick
My Christian faith has given me a sense of self. You know, politics is a rough and tough game, to be honest, and you can lose yourself, to alcohol and drugs and those sorts of things, if you haven’t got that sense of self. If I was being glib, I would say that I think I would have struggled if I just located my sense of self in the Guardian. I need a little bit more than that.
Guyana has a very rich culture. How deep do your roots go there?
We didn’t have the money to go there very often – I remember going once as a young child and being attacked by a bunch of chickens in the yard – but my parents talked a lot about Guyana and it mattered hugely to me.
The first opportunity I got to get to know the country, I went – and I kept going back. I think I’ve been there every year since I was 18 – in a way, I feel most at home there, swimming badly in the Caribbean Sea or eating pepperpot. So, I do feel I’ve got deep roots in the place. And, to be honest, when there has been so much questioning of how English, or British, people like me are [since the EU referendum], it’s mattered to me that Guyana has been there.
Being a minority is always a bit of a challenge: there are burdens and scars that we carry, some of which are hard even to talk about. But the way that I have coped is by holding on to those bits of my identity that are located in very solid places.
Guyana is actually in South America and it’s got elements to it that feel very South American – there are Amerindians, very present – but in the end it’s a Caribbean culture, a community of Africans and Indians. My mother’s grandmother was from Calcutta. So, we’re quite a mixed-up lot, the Guyanese. And there’s a tremendous fragility to the people, because we are the descendants of former slaves and indentured workers.
I have found that the [perspectives] of such people mean a lot to me, the kind of empowerment I get from the heroes of that world, whether it’s Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X or Rosa Parks, or indeed the founders of modern Guyana, people like Forbes Burnham3Guyana’s first Prime Minister, from 1964 to 1980, and then its first Executive President until 1985 and Cheddi Jagan.4Chief Minister (1953) and then Premier (1961–64) of what was then British Guiana, and President of Guyana from 1992 to 1997
Is identity a zero-sum game? You identify as Guyanese (and I read that you’re proud that you may be a quarter Tuareg), but are you the less English as a result? Or can you be fully both?
Well, I’m not sure it’s as binary as you’re making out. I’m hugely proud to be English.
It occurred to me that I was English [in my twenties,] when I was apparently at a very successful point of my life, working in a California law firm after graduating from Harvard. I had this office that looked over the Pacific but I missed Ribena and Walkers crisps and rugby fields and the BBC, and all the things I cherished. I was the loneliest I’ve ever been in my life and I had to come home, because I was deeply homesick.
It’s a huge privilege, and hugely rewarding, to serve in the House of Commons, and you can’t really do the job unless there’s quite a big [part] of you that sort of loves your country and the people that you rub up against. I’ve always said that I could only ever have been the MP for Tottenham or Peterborough, really, because that sense of place means a lot to me.
I went back to Peterborough for my new book, Tribes,5Tribes: How our need to belong can make or break society, published by Constable on 5 March 2020 and I spent a lot of time with folk who are zealous Brexiteers – and zealous Conservative voters, many of them – but they still adore me and I adore them! It’s a big dimension of me that, you know, they made an imprint on me.
[At the same time,] Tottenham is on the map in the consciousness of this country because we’ve got a great football team, yes, but also, unfortunately, because of the riots [in 1985 and 2011]. So, I suppose that one of the things that are important to me to hold on to, that empower me to speak up on behalf of the people I represent, is an understanding of being powerless, of being written out of the story, of having to hold on to your stories or they’re quickly erased and forgotten – all of those things.
And I’m aware that those feelings can exist all at the same time, I guess.
The subtitle of your book suggests that ‘our need to belong can make or break society’…
There is, I think, a new tribalism in society today – I don’t think anyone would dispute that Britain feels more polarised now than it has for many years. The people who filled the gap when my father left were, overwhelmingly, Middle-England Brits, and so I’m very much a child of consensus, if you like; and yet in the current environment I find myself forced to defend the turf a lot.
I don’t think I would ever have dreamed, in those early Blair years when people were writing about ‘the end of history’6See Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (Penguin, 1992). and it looked like politics was going to be fought in the centre for evermore, that we would be back in this place where those rights fought for and gained in the 20th century are being challenged, and everything is once again up in the air.
I’m now into the last third of my political career, perhaps, [and] I think the first 10 years was a time of consensus. I was the MP for Tottenham but I had a lot in common with MPs from Middle England. Cool Britannia was the theme. This second period has been way more divisive, particularly the last five years, from Farage7Nigel Farage, interviewed for High Profile in December 2011 to Trump. The murder of Jo Cox8The Labour politician was shot and stabbed to death on the street in 2016, seven days before the EU referendum (and barely a year after her election to Parliament). Her killer reportedly shouted: ‘This is for Britain! Britain will always come first!’ – oh God! it’s been tough.
You have said that you were very ambitious. Why did you go into the law?
Well, I knew that I had the gift of the gab; I’m not sure I had much else. I’m not the most practical person – I don’t drive, I can just about fix a plug – but what I can do is consume information and deploy it. That I can do – and I like being an advocate on behalf of people and getting their voice heard.
Had you already been aiming to get into Parliament when [the then MP for Tottenham] Bernie Grant died in 2000?
I had come back to London determined to be a bit more of a force in the Labour Party. I decided to run for the new London Assembly and I think I slightly wowed my way onto the list. I got all these nominations, and started to understand the beast that was the Labour Party.
And then Bernie died – and it’s important to say I knew Bernie: he was my distant cousin. He knew that we weren’t on the same page politically but he was terribly kind to me when I came back to England, in terms of helping me navigate politics. So, it wasn’t easy going up against his wife to get the nomination. It was an audacious act.
Did you want to go into politics for the same reason you went into the law?
I know it sounds a little bit worthy that I wanted to help people, but that was quite a strong motivation.
Also, I would be the youngest MP and, I think, having experienced lots of firsts – the first black cathedral chorister, the first black head boy at my school, the first black Briton to study at Harvard Law School – that had become quite addictive.
I’ve not done a bad job [over the last 10 years]. I’ve had a very prominent voice in public life – more prominent than most of the front-bench team, in fact
I think it probably also goes back to [my determination] that I wasn’t going to have a small life, that I wasn’t going to be – Look, I can’t tell you how many times I watched my parents being patronised. Sometimes they didn’t even realise they were being patronised, but I was acutely aware that they were.
So, yeah, I wanted to be somebody. My dad died a pauper in the United States, and he really was a nobody by the time he died. So, that was a powerful driver.
By 2010, you had climbed several rungs up the ministerial ladder. Can you explain why, in opposition, you have spent the last 10 years on the back benches?
Well, I didn’t really enjoy the Gordon Brown period. I was made a Privy Counsellor [in 2008] but I was still pretty junior. I was terribly caught up in American politics, because my friend Barack Obama was about to become President, against the odds – and at the same time it felt like in Britain the New Labour project was running into the sand.
And then, of course, we had the [global financial] crash, and [the scandal surrounding] MPs’ expenses.9See telegraph.co.uk/politics. It wasn’t a fantastic time to be in Parliament, so I wasn’t in the highest of spirits, and I felt that Tottenham would not fare very well [with Labour] in opposition and I didn’t want to be constrained by [collective responsibility on] the front bench.
I hadn’t supported Ed Miliband to be leader. I’d supported his brother (I was very close to David) but nominated Diane Abbott – straddling two horses slightly like I sometimes do!
I turned down Ed’s offer of a job, and I think that was the right decision. The David Lammy [that] people have seen over the last decade is very much me and I think that I’ve not done a bad job. I’ve had a very prominent voice in public life – more prominent than most members of the front-bench team, in fact.
Why, then, when the Guardian asked you in 2018 why you were not on the front benches, did you say, ‘Go and ask the white men who run my party’?10theguardian.com/politics
I think I was just slightly irritated. There’s often a sort of obsession with journalists that somehow you’re not cutting it unless you’re leading your party or, you know, you’re Treasury spokesman or – and, to be honest, I just thought that was bollocks.
Look at what I’ve achieved from the back benches. If you look at the major debates of the last five years – Brexit, Grenfell,11See bbc.co.uk/news. Windrush12See jcwi.org.uk/windrush-scandal-explained. – I’ve been at the centre of all of them. The only politicians who have a larger social-media following than me have either led their party or are leading it, you know?
I’ve found I’ve had quite a lot of power – because that’s what being in the House of Commons gives you if you know how to use it on behalf of those you’ve come to represent. And that [only] happens by working damn hard and being quite skilful. But you don’t quite get the credit for that when you’re me. I’ve got used to that.
You spoke of ‘straddling two horses’. Some people say that it’s not always clear where you stand politically.13See eg theguardian.com/politics.
I have an instinct for the underdog. I hate injustice and I completely identify with the passion of parts of the left. However, I recognise that the Labour Party has to be a broad church, a coalition
I think that I’ve made my values really clear. I’ve written two books, for God’s sake, that spell them out. You know, when others can’t define my politics, that’s about their intellectual ability, not my own.
Alastair Campbell described me as ‘an old-fashioned class warrior’. I quite like that! I guess my politics lies between Tottenham and Peterborough. I have an instinct for the underdog: the dispossessed, the poor, the deprived. I hate injustice. I care a lot about social justice and I completely identify with the passion of parts of the left. However, I recognise that Labour does not come to power until we persuade the people of Peterborough to vote for us. So, I recognise that the Labour Party has to be a broad church, a coalition.
I remember thinking Michael Foot was going to win [the 1983 general election], and hoping he would. I remember lots of good people telling me, ‘Labour will win.’ And I spent 18 years watching Labour not win. I found Tony Blair and the New Labour project attractive – at the time – but I was able to recognise when it ran out of ideas and needed renewal, and I’ve played my role over the last decade trying to contribute to that renewal.
It’s not about being pigeonholed as a Blairite (which I think, to be honest, has got to be consigned slightly to history now) or, indeed, a lefty, which is equally something of the Seventies. I’m interested in power. That’s what I’m interested in: power. And that means understanding the electorate as it is today, and being in the business of persuading them to lend you their vote. And in that sense I’m prepared for pragmatic politics as much as I have ideals and values.
It’s often observed nowadays that nobody who wants power should be trusted with it. How would you respond to that?
All I can say is that most of my constituents don’t have a platform. They’re people that the national press look in on only occasionally, usually when there’s some sort of crisis. They’re people who are bullied and shoved around in terms of their employment, their housing. They’re people that go to work late at night and come home early in the morning, often. They’re people like my mother, like folk in my wider family. And I’m damn well going to use the platform I have on their behalf.
For most of my life, the Labour Party has not been in power. You could go so far as saying it’s an abnormal thing. It is normal for people like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson to be in power – their ilk have been in power for centuries.
Many people were startled when you appeared to liken the European Research Group14A caucus of Conservative MPs characterised by some as ‘a party-within-a-party’. In 2018, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle described it as ‘a lobbying entity pushing for a no-nonsense, hard Brexit. Some say it is essentially running the show, not the British government.’ Its chairs have included Suella Braverman, subsequently Attorney General for England and Wales, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, subsequently Leader of the House of Commons. to the Nazis and the proponents of South African apartheid. The Daily Telegraph condemned your ‘hate-fuelled hyperbole’. On reflection, do you still stand by that?
Oh, God! I mean, Jacob Rees-Mogg had [re]tweeted [a speech by the leader of the far-right] AfD in Germany. Boris, and others, had met with and borrowed ideas from Steve Bannon.15The co-founder of the far-right website Breitbart News and chief strategist at the White House during Donald Trump’s first seven months in office, who in 2018 told a congress of the Front National in France: ‘Let them call you “racist”, let them call you “xenophobes”, let them call you “nativist”! Wear it as a badge of honour, because every day we get stronger and they get weaker. … History is on our side.’
I’m sorry, I’m never, ever, on behalf of my ethnic group, going to deny the truth of the evils of white supremacy, and those who think it’s fine to promote such ideas. As the descendant of enslaved people, I don’t take white supremacy lightly. It’s rather sad, it seems to me, that when a black politician calls it out for what it is…
There should be a chorus of approval across the British media.
You once said that you dreaded to think what would happen if men such as Johnson and Rees-Mogg ended up running the country. What exactly were you afraid of?
History tells us, empirically, that populist nationalism usually ends up taking you to a very bad place. The world is now dealing with the coronavirus, but then we’re likely to go into the deepest recession we’ve seen, certainly since the 1920s; and recessions breed hate and fear and are particularly dangerous when you have political actors, whether they are of the left or the right, who want to capitalise on that hate and that fear.
So, I’m deadly serious, deadly serious, about the challenges I see in our country. Hate crime is rising, prejudice is growing, and there are politicians that are stoking it. There are aspects of One-Nation Conservatism that I can identify with, particularly as a Christian; but that is not what we’re seeing [now]. And it has to be fought, pretty aggressively. Those of us on the progressive side of this story have to do better – and that includes me.
Many profiles of you refer to your ‘passion’, which is often another word for ‘anger’. Is anger an important –
But that’s a trope about black men, isn’t it? We’re angry. You know, I’ve learnt not to care too much how others define me, particularly those that don’t really understand me or have much experience of people like me. You’d never get out of bed if you worried too much about that.
So, I don’t recognise ‘anger’ at all, I really don’t. I don’t think I lose my temper – you know, I’ve never hit someone. But I am robust in my views.
I didn’t mean it negatively. Surely, it was proper to be angry about Grenfell?
Well, 72 people died in a preventable fire. They included my friend Khadija Saye, a beautiful young woman.16See theguardian.com/uk-news. And it was public housing, run by the state. I would have thought that that ought to evoke quite a lot of passion!
But that’s why I was asking whether anger is an important emotion for a politician. Perhaps too many politicians don’t feel angry enough.
I suppose one needs to be careful about the term ‘anger’, because the truth is, when it’s deployed in the direction of folk like me it usually means ‘loss of self-control’. And self-control is something that’s prized in Britain, certainly in middle-class and upwardly mobile society.
Nothing I have said [about Grenfell or Windrush] is anywhere near what you would hear in a barber shop or on the Tube in my constituency. It’s my job to bring those concerns to Parliament, and, believe me, I think I’m phenomenally measured in the circumstances!
You’ve held briefs for health, culture and higher education among other things, and now you are Shadow Secretary of State for Justice. We can say that Britain is a fairly healthy, cultured and educated country. Do you think it is just?
Oh, look, I’m pretty sure that there’s nowhere in the world that can claim to have cracked justice; but I think that Britain can hold its head up high.
It’s a bit like democracy. Democracy is a work in progress, and woe betide the country that says: We’ve cracked it! I think the global community has looked at our referendum decision [in 2016] and worried about the state of our democracy. I don’t think the justice system is any different, in the sense that it’s always a work in progress; but are the ideals and the principles, the foundations, there? Yes, I think they are.
It’s my job to critique robustly on behalf of my party, but I never lose sight of the fact that I’m doing it from the privileged position of being an MP in a country that in many ways is great and wonderful
I grew up in the era of huge miscarriages of justice – the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, the Tottenham Three – and I remember those cases being thrown out by our Court of Appeal. So, yes, the system’s capable of getting things badly wrong, but it’s also capable of correcting them.
And look, whilst it’s my job to critique robustly on behalf of my party, I never lose sight of the fact that I’m doing it from the privileged position of being a Member of Parliament in a country that has many aspects to it that are great and wonderful.
What do you think is the most important quality in a politician?
Oh, now! A lot of people think it’s the ability to deliver a great speech, but it’s not. The greatest skill is to listen and to really understand what you’re being told. If you can really hear the electorate, you can go quite far in politics.
Now, not everything the electorate is telling you is necessarily at the progressive end where I would like it to be, so there is an art of persuasion that also comes into it, having listened.
What changes would you make if you could do anything?
I’m really interested in second chances. I would bring back night schools. I would invest heavily in further education. I would move on from prisons and get into the business of what rehabilitation really looks like. I think ‘looked-after children’ are far from looked after and they should really be getting the very best.
And I’ve often wondered, when I’m in Parliament looking at politicians opposite who’ve been to the most amazing schools, why it is that young people growing up in my constituency, and so many others, haven’t got those fields on which to play and those theatres in which to act – that’s a great injustice.
Is there life for you outside of politics?
I have met politicians for whom politics is their whole life, but I am absolutely not one of them. I love the arts, I love the cinema and the theatre – that matters to me hugely. I’m in love with my wife but I’m also in love with her art.17nicolagreen.com/about
My three children matter to me hugely. I remember, when I first became a father, being worried about it – particularly when I found out I was having a boy – because I didn’t have the template…
And Spurs means the world to me. I haven’t got that many memories of my father but I remember him taking me to watch Spurs and, you know, what it was like in the 1970s to scream and shout and not get into trouble. It was just amazing – and I still enjoy that.
Actually, anyone who’s been to the football with me knows that I’m capable of some very, very blue language indeed. So, let’s talk about anger!
[ + ]
|2.||⇑||By Alastair Campbell in GQ|
|3.||⇑||Guyana’s first Prime Minister, from 1964 to 1980, and then its first Executive President until 1985|
|4.||⇑||Chief Minister (1953) and then Premier (1961–64) of what was then British Guiana, and President of Guyana from 1992 to 1997|
|5.||⇑||Tribes: How our need to belong can make or break society, published by Constable on 5 March 2020|
|6.||⇑||See Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (Penguin, 1992).|
|7.||⇑||Nigel Farage, interviewed for High Profile in December 2011|
|8.||⇑||The Labour politician was shot and stabbed to death on the street in 2016, seven days before the EU referendum (and barely a year after her election to Parliament). Her killer reportedly shouted: ‘This is for Britain! Britain will always come first!’|
|13.||⇑||See eg theguardian.com/politics.|
|14.||⇑||A caucus of Conservative MPs characterised by some as ‘a party-within-a-party’. In 2018, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle described it as ‘a lobbying entity pushing for a no-nonsense, hard Brexit. Some say it is essentially running the show, not the British government.’ Its chairs have included Suella Braverman, subsequently Attorney General for England and Wales, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, subsequently Leader of the House of Commons.|
|15.||⇑||The co-founder of the far-right website Breitbart News and chief strategist at the White House during Donald Trump’s first seven months in office, who in 2018 told a congress of the Front National in France: ‘Let them call you “racist”, let them call you “xenophobes”, let them call you “nativist”! Wear it as a badge of honour, because every day we get stronger and they get weaker. … History is on our side.’|
David Lammy was born in 1972 in north London. In 1982, he won an ILEA choral scholarship to attend The King’s School in Peterborough.
He studied law at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (where he is currently a visiting lecturer), and went on to become the first black Briton to go to Harvard Law School, where he gained a master’s degree in 1997. Having been called to the Bar in 1994 at Lincoln’s Inn, he practised as a barrister in London and California, specialising in medical ethics, negligence and commercial litigation.
In 2000, he was elected to the London Assembly on the Labour Party’s London-wide list. Less than two months later, he entered Parliament as MP for Tottenham after a by-election following the death of Bernie Grant. He was then the youngest member of the House of Commons (and remained so until 2003). He has held the seat ever since, winning 76% of the vote in the 2019 general election (and 81.6% in 2017).
In 2001, he became PPS to the then Secretary of State for Education, Estelle Morris, and the following year was promoted to parliamentary under-secretary of state, serving first in the Department of Health and then, from 2003, in the Department for Constitutional Affairs. He was appointed minister of state for culture in 2005.
In 2007, he was demoted to parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Fifteen months later, he was made a Privy Counsellor and restored to ministerial rank, with responsibility for higher education and intellectual property.
After Labour lost the 2010 general election, he turned down Ed Miliband’s offer of a front-bench position after he failed to get elected to the Shadow Cabinet.
In 2012, having decided against seeking to become Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, he chaired Ken Livingstone’s successful campaign for the nomination. In 2014, he entered the race to become Labour’s candidate in 2016, but came fourth behind Sadiq Khan, Tessa Jowell and Diane Abbott.
In 2016, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, asked him to lead an independent review of the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and other ethnic-minority people in Britain’s criminal justice system. The Lammy Review was published in September 2017.
In 2020, he was brought back to the front bench by Keir Starmer as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor.
He sat on Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee (and the Speaker’s advisory committee on works of art) from 2010 to 2019. He currently sits on the European Scrutiny Committee. He chairs the all-party parliamentary group on fatherhood.
He is the author of Out of the Ashes: Britain after the riots (2011) and Tribes: How our need to belong can make or break society (2020).
He has written for the Guardian, the Times, the Independent and New Statesman among other publications, and appears regularly on television and radio. In 2019, he presented the Channel 4 documentary The Unremembered: Britain’s Forgotten War Heroes.
He sat on the Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council from 1999 to 2002 and was a trustee of ActionAid from 2000 to 2006.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has an honorary doctorate from the University of East London.
He has been married since 2005 to the artist Nicola Green, with whom he has two sons and a daughter.
Up-to-date as at 1 June 2020