Gregory Leonard George Barker, Baron Barker of Battle, PC (born 8 March 1966) is a British Conservative Party politician and life peer. In May 2010 he was appointed Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change serving until 2015, when he stood down as MP for Bexhill and Battle. He now sits in the House of Lords.
Early life and education
Born in Sussex, Barker attended Upper Beeding Primary School, Steyning Grammar School and Lancing College. In 1987, he earned a bachelor's degree in history and politics from Royal Holloway College, London. In 1990–91, he attended a corporate finance programme at London Business School.
Barker was a researcher at the Centre for Policy Studies in 1987, before joining Gerard Vivian Gray as an equity analyst in 1988, and was a member of the Honourable Artillery Company between 1989 and 1994. In 1990, he became the director for International Pacific Securities. He was the deputy chairman of Hammersmith Conservative Association in 1993. From 1998, he was a director of Daric plc, an advertising company.
Barker also developed strong links to the Russian oil companies, being head of communications at the Anglo-Siberian Oil Company from 1998 to 2000 and also worked in London and Moscow for the Sibneft Oil Group, owned by Roman Abramovich.
Barker was at first unsuccessful in his attempts to be elected to Parliament when he contested the safe Labour seat of Eccles, where he was defeated by Ian Stewart. Barker then became the deputy chairman of Tooting Conservative Association and an advisor to Conservative MP David Willetts.
In 2001, Barker became the MP for Bexhill and Battle after the retirement of the sitting Conservative MP, Charles Wardle. Barker's nomination by the Conservative Party was hotly debated when sitting MP and former Home Office minister Charles Wardle accused Barker of being disingenuous about his business career and formally requesting Conservative Party Leader Iain Duncan Smith to investigate possible links between Barker and the infamous Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky. Wardle supported Nigel Farage (who later became the Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party), but Barker won the safe seat securing over 10,500 votes ahead of the Liberal Democrat candidate, Stephen Hardy.
Close to Conservative leader David Cameron, Barker, in his capacity as Shadow Environment Secretary, accompanied Cameron on his trip to the Arctic Circle in April 2006 for a fact-finding mission about global warming.
In April 2011, Barker was filmed addressing an audience at the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, during which he said of the Conservative-led British government: "We are making cuts that Margaret Thatcher, back in the 1980s, could only have dreamed of."
Barker was implicated in the 2009 MPs' expenses scandal for his purchase and sale of London flats; this led to widespread outrage from tax payers.
On 5 February 2013 MP Gregory Barker voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain.
On 14 July 2014, he announced he would not be standing at the 2015 general election.
House of Lords
In August 2015, Barker was nominated for a life peerage in the Dissolution Peerages List. On 12 October 2015, he was created Baron Barker of Battle, of Battle in the County of East Sussex. On 10 November of that year, he was introduced to the Lords. He was supported during the ceremony by John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley, and Guy Black, Baron Black of Brentwood.
Lord Barker was appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of En+ Group in October 2017, a company owned by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who sits on the U.S. sanctions list.
In February 2019, Barker took a leave of absence from the House of Lords upon accepting an executive chairmanship position with the En+ Group. Barker was credited with having helped the Russian company to have the US sanctions lifted earlier that year, for which he was awarded a bonus of about £3-4 million (US$3.9-$5.2 million) that he described as "relatively modest".
Barker married Celeste Harrison, an heiress to the Charles Wells brewery fortune, in 1992. Following a diary report in The Observer, Barker confirmed he and his wife had separated, and on 26 October 2006 the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror revealed that he had left his wife and children for vintage fashion expert William Banks-Blaney. The paper backed the story by quoting his mother-in-law. The Independent on Sunday later reported that Barker has confirmed that he is gay.
In 2009, Barker's wealth was estimated at £3.9m.
In May 2012, Barker attracted media attention, after it was reported he had used a staff microwave at the Department of Energy and Climate Change to warm a cushion for his pet dachshund, Otto.