Sarah Brown

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Not to be confused with Sarah A Brown of Harry's Place

Sarah Brown, formerly Sarah Macaulay is a former PR executive with Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications, who is married to Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. She is president of PiggyBankKids based in the offices of PR firm Brunswick. 'Although no longer employed by Brunswick, she still uses an office in its Lincoln's Inn headquarters, from which she runs her charitable concerns' reports the Daily Mail.[1]

According to an Observer profile:

After a psychology degree at Bristol University, she started work with PR agency Wolff Olins, whose client list embraced a string of worthy causes. The circles she moved in privately were left-wing, arty, serious but not stuffy, revolving around the north London literati.
Sarah was around 30 when she made the leap that would finally bring her into Gordon Brown's life, by going into partnership with her old schoolfriend, Julia Hobsbawm. Both were accomplished networkers and their PR firm, Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications, quickly landed contracts with the New Statesman, owned by Geoffrey Robinson, a Brown ally, and other causes close to Labour.
Brown's spin doctor, Charlie Whelan, befriended her after they met through mutual friends in the union movement; Macaulay also quickly forged a friendship with the other most important person in Brown's life, his political secretary, Sue Nye...
[In 2001] thrilled to be pregnant with their first child, she quit Hobsbawm Macaulay; the split was, by all accounts, acrimonious and effectively spelt the end of her friendship with her business partner.

Hobsbawm Macauley

'Once a habitue of the London media and advertising scene, frequently to be seen at fashionable members-only club Soho House'[2]

Early life

The Sunday Tribune reported on her early life:

She was born in 1963; her father Iain was a publisher and her mother Pauline a teacher. Sarah's early years were spent in Fife, before the family spent a few years in Tanzania. Gordon has quoted her childhood stories while speechifying on official visits there. Sarah refers to a "tough" period when she was seven and her parents divorced, leaving her mother bringing up Sarah and her two brothers alone. Sarah now supports the National Council for One Parent Families - with her friend JK Rowling, who recently wrote a new short story for the fundraising anthology that Sarah co-edited (Magic, Bloomsbury, EUR10.35). Their relationship seems to go beyond the usual acquaintance of the famous with the powerful: Rowling visited Sarah and Gordon at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh the day after their son John was born.
The family, always middle class, became more so when Sarah's mother remarried an eminent professor of tropical medicine. Sarah could have gone to private school but chose the left-leaning north London literati's school of choice - Camden Girls. How at home Sarah seems amongst the ranks of that institution's bien pensant, high-achieving alumni. Her contemporaries from school are a loyal lot, reluctant to comment about her other than to describe her as a "stunning, willowy, hippyish 17-year-old who would often walk about with bare feet." In her teens, Sarah met many who make up her present milieu: Julia Hobsbawm, daughter of Eric Hobsbawm, the Marxist historian; Arabella Weir, the comedian and writer; Toby Young, the man who lost friends, alienated people and wrote it up with great success - as well as one Helen Scott Lidgett, who taught her art.This woman has been touted as a possible heir to Carole Caplin. Dark and well-presented (she used to run a vintage clothes stall at Camden market), Scott Lidgett has been a constant presence in Sarah's life, making the Miss Brodie transition from teacher to friend. When Macaulay and Hobsbawm set up shop, she was invited on to the staff; when that company disbanded, she followed Sarah over to Brunswick PR. Scott Lidgett is also a trustee of Sarah's charity, PiggyBankKids.
After university, Sarah had a relationship with Falklands veteran Ken Lukowiak, who lived with her after his dismissal from the paratroop regiment for smuggling cannabis. He described his time with her as "one of the best summers of my life, like being in a rock'n'roll movie." A friend explains diplomatically: "She's always managed to combine being high-minded with being friends with people who are fun and off the rails. She knows how to manage them." Next, she went into career drive, working ferociously hard. Sarah was a yuppie in the true sense of the term - educated, connected, motivated. Her first job was with brand consultancy Wolff Olins, specialising in Labour gigs, such as the Manufacturing Matters Conference (oh, the glamour) and party donor events - where she came into Gordon Brown's ken.[3]

Brunswick links

GORDON BROWN'S wife is to be paid GBP 100,000 a year to work for a public relations firm which is controlled by a secretive trust based in an offshore tax haven. PR giant Brunswick is majority owned by the Alan Parker Trust, based in Jersey, an island which has been targeted by the Chancellor in an attempt to close tax avoidance loopholes. His wife Sarah is set to join Brunswick next month amid growing concern about New Labour's links with lobbyists and spin doctors. Brunswick represents a third of Britain's top 100 companies including many whose fortunes are dependent on Treasury decisions. They include Imperial Tobacco, Diageo, the Johnnie Walker whisky firm and De La Rue, which is to print the euro banknotes.[4]In 2004 The Observer referred to Macauley as one of Alan Parker's 'vanity signings'[5]. She joined Brunswick Arts after leaving HMC.
SARAH BROWN, the wife of the prime minister, has been drawn into political controversy for the first time as the Tories questioned whether Gordon Brown breached the ministerial code by failing to register her public relations contracts. Using documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Tories have established that companies linked to Sarah Brown, a former high-flying PR executive, received payments worth £ 124,000 from the British Council, the state-funded cultural body. The Conservatives claim Gordon Brown should have declared the contracts as a potential conflict of interest because when he was chancellor, he increased the council's budget.
However, No10 insisted the allegations were a "ridiculous smear" and Labour sources indicated that the Tories might suffer a backlash. A source said Sarah Brown had not personally worked for the British Council since the death of her baby daughter Jennifer in 2002. Gordon Brown began dating Sarah Macaulay, as she then was, before Labour won power, but their relationship became public only in 1998. They married in August 2000. Between 1998 and 2001, Sarah Brown's PR consultancy Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications received £ 45,000 from the British Council for helping to organise two cultural events. In 2001 she moved to the arts division of the financial public relations giant Brunswick. Over the next three years it received £ 79,000 from the British Council, mainly in the form of monthly retainers.
The FOI documents were obtained by Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East and shadow minister for higher education. He has written to Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, asking to know whether Brown, during his period in the Treasury, declared the contracts to the Whitehall authorities. "It is clear that as director of Hobsbawm Macaulay and employee of Brunswick, Sarah Macaulay Brown had a direct financial interest in the British Council at a time when her husband was substantially increasing its funding," Wilson writes. He points out that in the 2002 spending review, for example, Brown announced its budget would rise from an annual £157m to £185m over three years. Wilson added: "Under the terms of the ministerial code this should have been raised with the permanent secretary at the Treasury by the chancellor and the appropriate action taken. It would be helpful to know whether this matter was raised with the permanent secretary and, if it was, what action was recommended."
The FOI documents also reveal that the British Council awarded the contracts to Sarah Brown's firms without a competitive tender. "Guidelines state that competitive tender is only required for monies over £ 100,000," the council said. "As none of the work above falls into this category it is unlikely that the work was put out to tender." Between 1998 and 2004, the British Council was chaired by Helena Kennedy, the Labour peer and left-wing barrister who is a cousin by marriage of Sarah Brown's former business partner Julia Hobsbawm. Kennedy was succeeded by Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader. The British Council said its main contact at Brunswick had been Helen Scott Lidgett. She was Sarah Brown's art teacher at Camden school for girls in the 1970s. Scott Lidgett later joined Hobsbawm Macaulay as a PR executive and moved with Sarah Brown to Brunswick seven years ago, where she is now the partner in charge of the arts division.[6]

Spinning Gordon

For it can now be revealed that Mr Brown - known to be careful with the nation's pounds and pence - splurges an incredible $135 a time to pamper his lush, Byronic locks. And the difference shows. The thick, dark thatch which was for years unruly enough to grace an extra in the film Braveheart, is nowadays clipped and shaped to perfection. Behind the transformation is his girlfriend, professional PR adviser Sarah Macauley who also chooses the silk ties that brighten up his trademark dark suits. Under her watchful eye, Mr Brown has become a client of Kevin Graham, a top stylist with Royal hairdressers Michaeljohn. This is the salon now emerging as the favourite of fashion-conscious New Labour figures, including Peter Mandelson and Cherie Blair.[7]


External links

Profile: Gaby Hinsliff 'Lady in waiting' The Observer Sunday October 2, 2005.


  1. Daily Mail (London) March 9, 2007 Friday, A very political wedding and a dilemma for the groom: will Dave or Gordon emerge as best man?; There'll be wall-to-wall FTSE bosses as the City's top spin doctor weds in London today ... BYLINE: RICHARD PENDLEBURY SECTION: ED 1ST; Pg. 26
  2. The courage of Sarah Brown; The Chancellor's wife has been in a cocoon of grief since she lost her first baby. Now she is stepping back into the spotlight by her husband's side in his challenge for No10 BYLINE: Sarah Schaefer The Evening Standard (London) May 27, 2002 SECTION: Pg. 18
  3. A match made in Scotland: Sarah Brown prepares for life at No.10; She plays the demure charity-circuit wife to perfection, yet not so long ago she was running one of Britain's most powerful PR agencies and dating a dope smuggler Sunday Tribune (Ireland) June 24, 2007, SECTION: NEWS; Pg. N12
  4. MAIL ON SUNDAY October 21, 2001 New boss of Chancellor's wife runs secret trust in tax haven; MPs voice concern over GBP 100,000 job linked to Jersey BYLINE: Jonathan Oliver SECTION: Pg. 18
  5. Business & Media: Media: Media diary The Observer, SECTION: Observer Business Pages, April 25, 2004 Pg. 7
  6. Jonathan Oliver, Political Editor Brown is dragged into spat over funds Sunday Times (London) March 9, 2008, Sunday SECTION: HOME NEWS; News; Pg. 21
  7. MAIL ON SUNDAY August 9, 1998 Cuts the Chancellor keeps under his hat. What Gordon Brown's £135-a-time haircut signals about New Labour's infighting BYLINE: Daniel Foggo SECTION: Pg. 3