British Labour politician, secretary of state for defence 1999–2005, and transport secretary 2008–09. One of several barristers in the Tony Blair's ‘New Labour’ administration from 1997, as defence secretary he oversaw British participation in the US-led military operations in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq from 2003. In June 2007, the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, appointed him parliamentary secretary to the treasury and government chief whip. He became transport secretary in October 2008, resigning in June 2009. Before standing down at the May 2010 general election, Hoon was involved in January in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge Brown as leader. In March 2010 he was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party in a controversy over lobbying.
Hoon survived questioning in 2003 by the Hutton inquiry, set up to investigate the death of David Kelly, a defence department expert on Iraq's arms programmes. Hutton reported in 2004 that there had been no underhand strategy by the Ministry of Defence to name Kelly as the source for a newspaper article concerning the Blair government's alleged overstatement of evidence concerning the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But Hoon's reputation was tarnished by the inquiry's hearings. His appointments in 2005 as leader of the Commons and then, from 2006, as minister for Europe were effectively a demotion.
Born in Derby, England, the son of a railwayman, Hoon attended school in Nottingham and studied law at Cambridge University. He worked as a law lecturer at Leeds University 1976–82 and practised as a barrister in Nottingham 1982–84. He was elected to the European Parliament in 1984, representing Derbyshire until 1994, and became member of Parliament (MP) for Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, in April 1992. When Labour came to power in 1997 he was made a parliamentary secretary in the Lord Chancellor's Department, becoming a minister in 1998; during 1999 he was briefly a Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister.
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