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The Right Honourable
Andrew Mitchell
MP
File:Andrew Mitchell, October 2009 1 cropped.jpg
Government Chief Whip in the Commons
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
In office
4 September – 19 October 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Patrick McLoughlin
Succeeded by Sir George Young
Secretary of State for International Development
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Douglas Alexander
Succeeded by Justine Greening
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
In office
7 May 2005 – 11 May 2010
Leader Michael Howard
David Cameron
Preceded by Alan Duncan
Succeeded by Douglas Alexander
Member of Parliament
for Sutton Coldfield
Incumbent
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Norman Fowler
Majority 17,005 (33.6%)
Member of Parliament
for Gedling
In office
11 June 1987 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by Philip Holland
Succeeded by Vernon Coaker
Personal details
Born Andrew John Bower Mitchell
(1956-03-23) 23 March 1956 (age 64)
Hampstead, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Sharon, née Bennett
Alma mater Jesus College, Cambridge
Website Constituency website

Andrew John Bower Mitchell (born 23 March 1956) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sutton Coldfield since 2001. He was the MP for Gedling from 1987 to 1997. He served in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development from 2010 to 2012, and then briefly as Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons until he resigned after losing the confidence of many of his colleagues following an altercation with police.[1]

Mitchell was elected President of the Cambridge Union in 1978. A former United Nations military peacekeeper, he has extensive pre-government experience of the developing world, and is the founder of Project Umubano, a Conservative Party social action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone in central and west Africa, launched in 2007.[2]

Early life and careerEdit

Mitchell was born at Hampstead in north London, the son of Sir David Mitchell, a former Conservative MP and junior Government Minister.

He was educated at Rugby School, at which school the self-confessed “stern disciplinarian” earned the nickname “Thrasher”.[3] In February 1975, he was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment, serving in Cyprus during the 1970s.[4][5] His commission was terminated in October 1975, when he transferred to the General List of the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve and was given seniority in his rank from 10 March 1975. He then went to the University of Cambridge, where he read History at Jesus College. He was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association in the Michaelmas Term of 1977. He resigned his British Army commission on 9 February 1977 after serving in the Royal Tank Regiment for eight months on a Short Service Commission.[6][7] He served as President of the Cambridge Union 1978–79,[8] after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978, later proceeding Master of Arts.[9]

Mitchell worked for Lazard, one of the world's largest investment banks, where he worked with British companies seeking large-scale overseas contracts.[10]

Political careerEdit

Mitchell was the only Conservative member of Islington Health Authority (IHA) in north London during the 1980s, and in that capacity, he called for the IHA to make greater use of competitive tendering in the allocation of service contracts.[11]

Mitchell entered Parliament in 1987 at the age of 31 as MP for Gedling, Nottinghamshire, serving in the House of Commons concurrently with his father. In 1988, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he became PPS to William Waldegrave, who was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In 1990, he became PPS to John Wakeham, who was Secretary of State for Energy. In 1992, under John Major, he became Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party, and in the same year was appointed as an Assistant Government Whip. In 1993, he became a Government Whip. In 1995, he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security, a position he held until 1997.

Mitchell lost his Commons seat with Tony Blair's Labour victory at the 1997 election. He was returned to Parliament at the 2001 election as the MP for Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham. He held no shadow ministerial or organisational position under the leadership of Iain Duncan Smith, but in November 2003, under new leader Michael Howard, he became Shadow Economic Affairs Minister. In 2004, he moved to Shadow Home Office Minister primarily dealing with police matters.

Shadow International Development SecretaryEdit

In May 2005, Mitchell was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. After Howard's decision to stand down as leader following the Conservatives' 2005 general election defeat, Mitchell ran the unsuccessful leadership campaign of David Davis, but retained his Shadow Cabinet position under the new Leader of HM Opposition, David Cameron.

In that role, Mitchell visited countries throughout the developing world to establish in detail how aid could be most effectively and fairly delivered. He visited a number of countries in Africa and Asia containing some of the worst poverty in the world, such as Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ethiopia, Chad, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Thailand, Cambodia and Burma (The Republic of the Union of Myanmar). In many of these places, he created video reports detailing local conditions and some of the NGO projects aimed at ameliorating them. Whilst in Burma, Mitchell challenged its Government by raising evidence of systematic human rights abuses in the country, and its continued imprisonment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He also emphasised the need to provide rapid and substantial aid to the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[12]

Project UmubanoEdit

Mitchell led large groups of Conservative volunteers from a wide range of professions, including doctors, teachers, lawyers and entrepreneurs, in social development projects in Rwanda for three consecutive summers, from 2007 to 2009, as part of Project Umubano,[13] and kept a detailed diary of their activities and experiences.[14][15] The volunteers focused on five areas: health, education, justice, the private sector, and a community centre construction project.[16] In 2008, Mitchell himself taught English to over a thousand Rwandan primary school teachers.[17] It was during one of these trips that Mitchell and his aides are reported to have verbally abused one of the volunteers, a student journalist who had circulated a draft newspaper article she had written criticising the way the project was organised. The journalist, Lucy Kinder, claimed Mitchell texted her father, a friend from Mitchell's university days: "They [his aides] are threatening her with physical violence and I can't say I blame them."[18]

BBC Gaza AppealEdit

Mitchell expressed support for the idea of a televised appeal for Gaza on the BBC in 2009, a subject which had aroused much controversy on both sides of the argument. He said that, while the matter was ultimately for the BBC to decide, "We believe that they should allow the broadcast to proceed so that the British public, who have proved themselves so generous during recent emergencies in the Congo and Burma, can make their own judgement on the validity of the appeal".[19]

International Development SecretaryEdit

Following the general election and formation of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition in May 2010, he became Secretary of State for International Development.

Mitchell travelled to countries in need of aid. He visited Pakistan during the floods in 2010 and returned the following year. He also visited Haiti, to see the effects of the earthquake, and Somalia and Libya in 2011. He also addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 to press the case for greater support for the developing world, strongly criticised the developed world for failing in its responsibilities towards it, and announced that Britain would double its aid contribution to Pakistan.[20]

Both in Opposition and Government, Mitchell asserted the need for transparency and value for money in British aid contributions to the developing world, with resources concentrated on the world's poorest and most troubled countries.[21]

During the 2011 Battle of Tripoli, Mitchell said that the UK had learned from Iraq and had laid the groundwork for a post-Gaddafi Libya. While emphasising that the transition should be Libyan-led, he said that Libya's allies had outlined steps to ensure a smooth transition. He added, "We have made clear that there should be no revenge attacks," and, "Libyans have to work together for a new Libya. They should keep in place the sinews of security. The National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi has good informal connections with security officials in Tripoli and has told them: 'You've got a job, please help us keep stability'." He added that "Divisions between the rebels groups are overstated. The way the National Transitional Council has reached out gives us some confidence."[22]

Mitchell accepted that a smaller aid budget might have meant fewer cuts elsewhere, but insisted that development projects also helped protect Britain. "Our security is not just provided by soldiers and tanks and fighter jets, it is also provided by training the police in Afghanistan, by building up governance structures in the Middle East and by getting girls into school in the Horn of Africa," he said, "Those things are all part of what makes us safer."[23]

Praise in debateEdit

On 1 July 2010, at the end of a debate on global poverty in the House of Commons,[24][25] the Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan, quoted the journalist Jon Snow as having said, "Andrew Mitchell is unquestionably the best prepared Secretary of State — nobody has waited longer in the wings and everyone in the sector knows of his commitment to the sector".

Aid transparencyEdit

Both in Opposition, and later as Secretary of State for International Development, Mitchell repeatedly asserted the need for transparency in aid donations to other countries, with contributions fully accounted for and published, and the intention for Britain to lead the world in this transparency.[26] He made clear that value for money in aid donations was of critical importance and provided a guarantee that British legislation would be amended to ensure that Britain's aid contributions will be maintained at 0.7 per cent of UK GNI (Gross National Income) by 2013.[27] He also asked former international envoy and Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown to conduct a review of the UK's response to international humanitarian disasters, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, to see whether lessons could be learned from them.[28]

Aid to RwandaEdit

On his final day as International Development Secretary, Mitchell authorised the payment of £16 million of previously suspended aid to Rwanda, half of Britain's annual aid to Rwanda. The aid had been suspended in July, along with other governments' aid, over concerns about Rwanda's alleged support of the rebel March 23 Movement in east Democratic Republic of the Congo.[29][30] Mitchell's successor stopped further aid payments as Rwanda had breached agreements,[31] and following the publication of an United Nations Security Council investigators' report which provided evidence that Rwanda had supplied guns, money and recruits to the rebels contrary to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1807,[32] and engaged directly in combat to help the rebels capture territory.[33]

The International Development Select Committee launched an inquiry into the suspending, then subsequent authorisation, of budget support to Rwanda.[34] On 30 November 2012 the committee published its report criticising Mitchell for restoring the funding, stating "We do not understand how [Mitchell] reached the conclusion that support for the M23 had ceased", which was one of the three conditions that the Prime Minister had set for the resumption of aid.[35][36]

"Plebgate" Edit

In September 2012, Mitchell was appointed Government Chief Whip in David Cameron's first significant Cabinet reshuffle.

In the evening of 19 September 2012, Mitchell, who had been bicycling to work, was allegedly threatened with arrest after swearing at police officers who asked him to exit Downing Street through the pedestrian gate rather than by the main gate.[37] The official police log[38] of the incident stated that Mitchell said "Best you learn your fucking place. You don't run this fucking government.... You're fucking plebs."[39][40] It was also alleged that he informed police officers: "I'll have your fucking job for this."[41]

The allegations became known in the media as "Plebgate".[42][43]

In response to the allegations, Mitchell apologised, but disputed many of the details of the accusations, in particular that he had used the word "pleb". He later resigned on 19 October.[42][43]

Subsequent to Mitchell's resignation, the affair returned to the news headlines in December 2012, after new CCTV evidence was published in the media which appeared to contradict the police's account. Additionally, an email sent by a member of the public to their MP corroborating the police account transpired actually to be from an off-duty police officer who was not at the scene.[44] Mitchell has stated that the CCTV footage backs up his version of events.[45] As of December 2012, the Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation into the incident, known as Operation Alice.

Work as an MPEdit

Mitchell has campaigned on a wide range of local issues, from the safety of mobile phone masts to the administration of justice, and has particularly focused on local development where it appears to adversely affect his constituents. He deals with a wide range of issues for constituents, often dealing directly with government departments, agencies and other organisations on their behalf, and holds regular advice sessions for them. He also regularly visits local schools, businesses and voluntary organisations across Sutton Coldfield. He successfully brought about the restoration of Sutton Coldfield Civic Service and introduced the Sutton Coldfield Inter-Schools Debating Competition. He actively supports a number of local charities including Breastfriends, Norman Laud Association, the Sutton Coldfield Branch of the RNLI, Parkinson’s Disease Society, Sutton Coldfield Sea Cadets, Greenacres, and Sutton Coldfield Girl Guides.[10]

Keep Justice Local campaignEdit

In 2002, Mitchell successfully led the Keep Justice Local campaign across his constituency of Sutton Coldfield to safeguard the 50-year-old courthouse (Magistrates' Court) from imminent closure. He presented a petition signed by more than 5,500 constituents, protesting at plans to transfer the Courthouse's work to Birmingham.[46]

However, once in Government Mitchell appeared to have changed his views on the closure of the courthouse after a decision was taken to close it in December 2010, although it is not clear that he necessarily did so, as his public statement did not actually endorse the decision that had been taken. He said, "We must now ensure that there's a widespread local discussion about the future of the site and the building. I know that our councillors are already looking at how best we can do this".[47]

Voting recordEdit

In 1994, as MP for Gedling, Mitchell voted in the House of Commons for the restoration of the death penalty, which measure was defeated 383–186.[48] Between 2001 and 2010, as MP for Sutton Coldfield, his House of Commons voting record shows that he voted for limiting climate change, civil partnerships for gay couples, greater autonomy for schools, a UK referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty, replacement of Trident, the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent Iraq investigation, and limiting pollution from civil aviation. During the same period, he voted against ID cards, the closure of post offices, both 42 days' and 90 days' detention without charge or trial, the DNA database, closer EU integration, the relaxation of gambling laws, Section 28 (although in 1988 he had voted in favour),[49] employment discrimination against gay people, the legalisation of recreational drugs, a fully elected House of Lords, and a ban on fox hunting.[50] He was ranked by the Liberal Democrat Voice (connected to, but not part of, the Liberal Democrat Party) as one of the least authoritarian members of Parliament, scoring 3 out of 100 points for his votes between 2005 and 2010.[51] with a joint ranking of 542 out of 619.[52]

Prize Winner of Westminster Dog of the Year AwardEdit

In 2009, Andrew Mitchell won the top prize among Parliamentarians for the Westminster Dog of the Year Award, for his dog Molly. Judges said that Molly, a seven-year-old Welsh Springer Spaniel, had an "excellent condition and temperament", that she "stood out particularly because she is the ‘glue’ of her family", and that Mitchell was "an owner who shows commitment to responsible dog ownership".[53]

2009 expenses claimsEdit

According to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which first reported the unredacted expenses claims of Members of Parliament, most claims made by Mitchell were for office expenses, but there was criticism of him among some of the British media, which reported that he had made a number of small claims for items such as a 'stick of glue' (reportedly costing 45p), and other items.[54]

Allegations of lobbying on behalf of donorsEdit

An article in The Sunday Times on 30 October 2010, quoted by The Guardian the following day, claimed that Mitchell had pressured the Foreign Office and colleagues to lobby Ghana (successfully) for the lifting of a trading ban on a cocoa company, Armajaro, which had been a repeated donor to Mitchell's parliamentary office and also a donor to the Conservative Party. Ghana had imposed the ban as the company was believed to have been smuggling cocoa out of the country. However, when questioned by ITV News on 2 November about his role in the case, Mitchell said that he had a duty as a member of the government to respond to the company's requests, as it was registered as a British company, and that the government had a responsibility to promote British trade. He argued that he had seen no evidence that the Ghanaian government's suspicions about the company in question had been substantiated, and that the claim that he had acted improperly on behalf of a party donor was unreasonable, as the company had ceased to donate to both the Conservative Party and his parliamentary office several years earlier.[55][56]

Allegations of tax avoidanceEdit

In 2006, Andrew Mitchell invested funds in privately owned firms implicated in a tax avoidance scheme.[57] The article in the Daily Telegraph claimed that a subsidiary of DV3 purchased the lease on the Dickins & Jones department store building in central London for £65.1 million and sold it a month later to a partnership controlled by DV3 for £65,100, thus avoiding stamp duty.

Personal lifeEdit

Mitchell is married to Dr Sharon Bennett, a GP, and has two children.[58] He lives in his constituency of Sutton Coldfield and in Islington, London. His wealth is estimated at £2 million.[59][60]

He is a Trustee of the E.M. Radiation Research Trust,[61] which conducts research into radiation emissions, from sites such as mobile phone masts. He was also a Senior Strategy Adviser for Accenture, the management consultancy and technology outsourcing company. He is also Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Vintners' Company

In 2010 Mitchell was sworn in as a Privy Councillor.

ReferencesEdit

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  2. "President Kagame Officially Opens Girubuntu Education Center". 27 July 2011. http://www.presidency.gov.rw/component/content/article/1-latest-news/484-president-kagame-officially-opens-girubuntu-education-center.html. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  3. BBC (24 September 2012). "Profile: Andrew Mitchell". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19698442.
  4. "Andrew Mitchell (Members of Parliament)". www.conservatives.com. http://www.conservatives.com/People/Members_of_Parliament/Mitchell_Andrew.aspx.
  5. "Andrew Mitchell". Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120730085132/http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-us/Our-organisation/Ministers/Andrew-Mitchell/. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  6. http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/276080/Guido-Fawkes-Plots-rumours-and-conspiracy/
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  13. Stephen Crabb (29 November 2012). "Welcome to Project Umubano". Conservative Party. http://www.conservatives.com/Get_involved/Project_Umubano.aspx. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
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  17. webcameronuk. "Project Umubano". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS4lvlFYKF4.
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  24. Global Poverty Debate – www.parliament.uk (1 July 2010 : Column 1104)
  25. Global Poverty Debate – BBC Democracy Live 1 July 2010 (Quotation made 4 hrs, 3 mins 55 secs into the debate)
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  33. Jonathan Miller (24 November 2012). "Britain's aid to Rwanda is funding a 'repressive regime' says former Kagame official". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/rwanda/9700913/Britains-aid-to-Rwanda-is-funding-a-repressive-regime-says-former-Kagame-official.html. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  34. International Development Select Committee. "UK aid to Rwanda". UK Parliament. http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/international-development-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/uk-aid-to-rwanda-/. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  35. David Blair (30 November 2012). "The British Government and Andrew Mitchell got it badly wrong on Rwanda's secret war in the Congo". Daily Telegraph. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/davidblair/100192371/the-british-government-and-andrew-mitchell-got-it-badly-wrong-on-rwandas-secret-war-in-the-congo/. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  36. International Development Select Committee (30 November 2012). "UK Aid to Rwanda". Seventh Report of Session 2012–13 (UK Parliament). HC 726. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmintdev/726/72602.htm. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
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  39. For the full text of the police incident log, see "In full: Police log detailing Andrew Mitchell's 'pleb' rant". The Telegraph. 24 September 2012. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/9564006/In-full-Police-log-detailing-Andrew-Mitchells-pleb-rant.html. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  40. "Top cop calls for Tory Chief Whip to quit over pleb rant". The Sun. 22 September 2012. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/4549265/Andrew-Mitchell-insults-police-at-Downing-Street-by-calling-them-fing-plebs.html.
  41. "'Cameron should take full responsibility for out-of-line ministers’: Husband of PC Sharon Beshenivsky urges PM to act after Chief Whip's ‘anti-police rant’". Daily Mail. 21 September 2012. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2206484/Police-say-Andrew-Mitchell-yelled-Ill-job-officer-stopped-riding-bike.html?ITO=1490.
  42. 42.0 42.1 "Andrew Mitchell announces resignation over 'plebgate' claims". Channel 4 News. 2012-10-19. http://www.channel4.com/news/andrew-mitchell-announces-resignation-over-plebgate-claims. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  43. 43.0 43.1 Andrew Grice and Oliver Wright (2012-10-19). "Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell resigns over 'Plebgate'". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/chief-whip-andrew-mitchell-resigns-over-plebgate-8218881.html. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
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  46. "Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell to Lead Campaign". The Birmingham Mail. http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2010/06/25/sutton-coldfield-mp-andrew-mitchell-to-lead-campaign-to-keep-sutton-coldfield-magistrates-court-from-closure-97319-26720952/.
  47. http://www.thisissuttoncoldfield.co.uk/news/Local-justice-brought-end-Sutton-court-axed/article-3015492-detail/article.html[dead link]
  48. "Return of death penalty rejected by big majority: MPs deliver decisive verdict on move to bring back hanging". The Independent. 22 February 1994. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/return-of-death-penalty-rejected-by-big-majority-mps-deliver-decisive-verdict-on-move-to-bring-back-hanging-stephen-goodwin-reports-1395660.html.
  49. "How the Cabinet Voted". www.lgbtnetwork.eu. http://www.lgbtnetwork.eu/?p=4927.
  50. "Andrew Mitchell MP – Voting Record". PublicWhip. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=andrew_mitchell.
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  52. "Authoritarian vs Liberal (Full list of MPs)". Liberal Democrat Voice. http://rank.libdemvoice.org/ranked/.
  53. The Rex Factor Hits Westminster – www.thekennelclub.org.uk
  54. Neville, Simon (13 March 2010). "Millionaire Tory made 13p claim for Tipp-Ex... oh, and don't forget 45p for a glue stick". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1257745/Millionaire-Tory-13p-claim-Tipp-Ex--oh-dont-forget-45p-glue-stick.html#ixzz0jhXmaCS4.
  55. ITV Lunchtime News, ITV1 2 November 2010.
  56. Quinn, Ben; Gallagher, Paul (31 October 2010). "Tory minister 'intervened on behalf of cocoa millionaire'". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/31/andrew-mitchell-ghana-cocoa-armajaro.
  57. "Andrew Mitchell held shares in company which avoided millions in stamp duty". Daily Telegraph. 29 March 2012. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/9172731/Andrew-Mitchell-held-shares-in-company-which-avoided-millions-in-stamp-duty.html.
  58. "Andrew Mitchell". Conservatives.com. 24 August 2010. http://www.conservatives.com/People/Members_of_Parliament/Mitchell_Andrew.aspx. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  59. Shackle, Samira; Stephanie Hegarty and George Eaton (1 October 2009). "The new ruling class". New Statesman. http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2009/10/oxford-universitywealth-school.
  60. Owen, Glen (23 May 2010). "The coalition of millionaires: 23 of the 29 member of the new cabinet are worth more than £1m... and the Lib Dems are just as wealthy as the Tories". Mail on Sunday. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1280554/The-coalition-millionaires-23-29-member-new-cabinet-worth-1m--Lib-Dems-just-wealthy-Tories.html.
  61. EM Radiation Research Trust Andrew Mitchell, Conservative MP, is listed at the bottom of the webpage, together with other members of the Board of Trustees.

External linksEdit


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