Elizabeth Symons, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

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Baroness Symons in her role as Minister of Defence Procurement, pictured shortly after signing a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the SDD phase of the .
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Baroness Symons in her role as Minister of Defence Procurement, pictured shortly after signing a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the SDD phase of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Elizabeth Conway Symons, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, PC (born 14 April, 1951), is a British politician, and formerly a Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was created a Labour Life Peer in 1996.

Her father, Ernest Symons, was Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue. She was educated at Putney High School for Girls and Girton College. She was an administration trainee at the Department of the Environment from 1974 to 1977.

She then worked for trade unions. She was with the Inland Revenue Staff Federation from 1977 to 1989 (her father had retired so she had no conflict of interest) and was General Secretary of the Association of First Division Civil Servants from 1989 to 1997.

Baroness Symons was or remains a member of the British American Project (BAP). It has a membership of 600 leaders and opinion formers, drawn equally from both countries, the Guardian says, and holds an annual conference at which everything that is said is officially off-the-record. [1] (http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,1343704,00.html) According to investigative journalist John Pilger, the BAP has been funded by and worked with a long list of U.S. right-wing foundations and groups including the Pew Charitable Trust, which provided the start-up funds.[2] (http://pilger.carlton.com/print/19252)

In 1999, she was made Minister of State for Defence Procurement by Prime Minister Tony Blair. In June 2003, she was appointed Minister of State for the Middle East, International Security, Consular and Personal Affairs in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was not given a job in the re-shuffle after the general election of 5 May 2005.

In 2001, she married her long-standing partner Phil Bassett, Rupert Murdoch's former labour writer at the Times; they already had one son. In October 2002, Phil Bassett was appointed to the strategic communications unit in 10 Downing Street, leaving in September 2003 to become special adviser to Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

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