Jonny Oates

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Lord Oates
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Jonny Oates (also Jonathan Oates) is a former lobbyist who was chief of staff to Nick Clegg, former deputy UK prime minister, until April 2015. Oates was previously the director of policy and communications at the Liberal Democrats and is a former director of PR and lobbying company Bell Pottinger Communications.[1]

On 5 October 2015, Oates was awarded a life peerage to the UK House of Lords, taking on the title of Baron Oates of Denby Grange in the County of West Yorkshire. He is affiliated with the Liberal Democrats. [2] He sits on the EU Justice Sub-Committee.


From 2007 until 2008, Oates was director for policy and communications for the Liberal Democrats, leaving to join lobbying firm Bell Pottinger as a strategic media director. In November 2009, Oates returned to the party only one year after leaving. Upon his return, he joined the campaign team as director of general election communications; reporting to Chris Fox (who earlier replaced Oates). He said:

Nick asked me if I would like to go back. When I left I always regretted I hadn't been there for an election. Peter Bingle [Oates' boss at Bell Pottinger] is a political junkie himself and he completely understands my decision.

Of Oates' return to the Liberal Democrats, Peter Bingle, Public Affairs Chairman for Bell Pottinger, remarked:

I regard Jonny as the best strategic communications professional in the business. He has been a friend and colleague for many years. I understand why the lure of returning to front-line politics was too strong. Our loss is Nick Clegg's gain.

Oates added that his plan was to stay until two months after the election, and while he had not yet discussed the possibility of returning to Bell Pottinger, the party was "intending it to be a very successful election campaign, so opportunities may open up in that regard".[3]

In 2010, opportunities did, indeed, "open up". Oates was appointed deputy communications adviser to the Prime Minister David Cameron[4] - making him the highest paid Liberal Democrat adviser in Downing Street, collecting a salary of £98,500.[5] In a later rearrangement of Clegg's office, Oates became one of the Liberal Democrats in No 10 "coming over to boost Clegg's firepower", and was moved from deputy director of communications at No 10 to be Clegg's Chief of Staff.[6] The position of Chief of Staff was created amid concerns that the Liberal Democrats have too few ministers and special advisers.[7]

According to a 2007 Liberal Democrats press release, Oates is a former deputy [Liberal Leader] Leader of Kingston Council.

Oates has extensive experience in the fields of media and political campaigning. He has worked with Mark Bolland, former media adviser to the Prince of Wales, and spent two years working in the South Africa Parliament advising the then Home Affairs Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and other Cabinet Ministers in the South African government as part of a democracy development project sponsored by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
A former Deputy Leader of Kingston Council, Oates was the Election Agent for Edward Davey MP (now Chief of Staff to Menzies Campbell) at the 1997 General Election, resulting in a stunning victory overturning a substantial Conservative majority. He was election adviser to Jeremy Browne MP who took the seat of Taunton from the Conservatives in the 2005 election. [8]


Contact, Resources, Notes


See: Fracking lobbying firms


  1. James Forsyth, "As Donald Rumsfeld might say, there are agreed disagreements and unagreed disagreements. Don't mix them up, Nick", Daily Mail, 22.08.10, accessed 08.09.10
  2. Crown appointment notice,, accessed 22 October 2015
  3. Kate Magee, "Jonny Oates returns to Liberal Democrats for general election campaign", PR Week UK, accessed 08.09.10
  4. Department of Information Services, "Parliamentary Information List", accessed 07.09.10
  5. James Forsyth, "Dave, Nick (and Sam's) 100 days - an unparalleled insider tells of rows, tension and fragile future", Daily Mail, 08.08.10, accessed 08.09.10
  6. James Forsyth, "As Donald Rumsfeld might say, there are agreed disagreements and unagreed disagreements. Don't mix them up, Nick", Daily Mail, 22.08.10, accessed 08.09.10
  7. Sam Coates, "Clegg shuffles his advisers as rumpus over billionaire's appointment grows", The Times, 20.08.10
  8. Liberal Democrats appoint Jonathan Oates as new director of policy and communications, Liberal Democrats Press Release, 6 February 2007.