Patrick Mercer

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Patrick Mercer

Patrick Mercer (born 26 June 1956) is a former UK Conservative politician and former Army Colonel. He was shadow minister for Homeland Security between 2003 and 2007 during which time he was quoted widely on security and terrorism issues.

He left the Tory frontbench in 2007 after making allegedly racist comments and in May 2013 resigned the Tory whip over a joint BBC Panorama and Telegraph expose which alleged he had broken lobbying rules. A year later, in May 2014, the parliamentary standards watchdog released its report into the Mercer cash-for-questions scandal, describing it as the worst case it had encountered:

“We are not aware of a case relating to a sitting MP which has involved such a sustained and pervasive breach of the House's rules on registration, declaration and paid advocacy.” [1]

The Standards Committee had planned to suspend Mercer from the House of Commons for six months; the longest such suspension meted out to an MP since 1947, with the exception of former Labour MP Denis MacShane, who was convicted of criminal offences.

Mercer however resigned as an MP days before the suspension was due to be handed down, prompting a by-election in his Newark constituency.


Mercer went to private school in Chester. He joined Sandhurst in 1975, suggesting that he spent a year there in-between school and university, after which he attended Exeter College, Oxford. He received an MA in modern history in 1980. Mercer then joined the British Army. In 1986 he was part of a military training team in Uganda and in 1988 he attended the Army Staff College in Camberley, where he was later an instructor between 1994-95.[2] He also taught at the Army’s University at Cranfield. During the 1990s Mercer completed nine tours in Northern Ireland and commanded a battalion in Bosnia, Canada and Tidworth.[3]

Mercer has denied claims that he was in the Force Research Unit (FRU) while in Northern Ireland. He stated: "'I was never a member of the FRU. I have had plenty to do with them in the past, as with all the intelligence agencies in Northern Ireland, but I never served in the unit.'"[4]

According to the Observer, Mercer said he had contacts with the FRU while serving as a staff officer at HQ Northern Ireland at Thiepval Barracks in 1990-91. He denied suggestions that he was one of the people in a group photograph of the FRU posted on the Cryptome website. he said: "Where the confusion arises is that Cryptome knows that I was in the Province and they have obviously put two and two together and made five."[4]

He left the Army and became the Defence Reporter for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. He reported from a number of trouble spots, notably Kosovo. Upon being selected as the Tory’s candidate in Newark, he left the Today Programme and became a freelance journalist writing for the Daily Telegraph. He was also part of the King’s College London Team that had been sent to design defence policy for East Timor.[5] In June 2003, Mercer was appointed to a newly created front bench position – Shadow Minister for Homeland Security - a position he held until March 2007 when he was demoted by David Cameron after saying that during his Army career he had seen “a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours.”[6] He is now a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee.[7]

Connections with dubious 'terrorism experts'

Patrick Mercer with Dominic Whiteman outside New Scotland Yard

Mercer was at one stage connected with a mysterious and probably amateurish terrorism research group called VIGIL, which was behind alarmist reports on Muslim extremists by BBC 2's Newsnight and Radio 4's File on 4 broadcast in November 2006. [8] The main figure behind VIGIL was its founder Dominic Whiteman, who later set up a website called Westminster Journal to promote his ‘poetry and political philosophy essays’. [9] The only other member named in press reports was Glen Jenvey, who was later revealed to have fabricated terrorism threats and was arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred. [10] (For more on VIGIL, Whiteman and Jenvey see Tom Mills and David Miller, The British amateur terror trackers: A case study in dubious politics, Spinwatch, 26 August 2009.)

Mercer was also connected to another dubious terrorism expert called Simon Barrett, a former advisor who set up a number of alarmist organisations promoting confrontation with Iran before spending a period working at the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society. Spinwatch uncovered evidence that one such organisation, Réalité EU, was a covert propaganda operation run by a pro-Israel organisation in the United States (see Tom Mills and David Miller, Réalité-EU: Front group for the Washington-based Israel Project?, Spinwatch, 30 October 2009).

Visit to Afghanistan

In 2004 Saladin Security paid for Patrick Mercer the Conservative MP for Newark and Retford to visit Afghanistan. The entry in Mercer's register of interests reads as follows:

"19-25 June 2004, to Afghanistan and Pakistan on fact-finding visit. Flights and accommodation paid for by Saladin Security Limited. (Registered 29 June 2004)"[11].

Private security consultant

Mercer has also worked as a consultant for the private security firm Blue Hackle [12] which was principally involved in Iraqi corporate protection.


Contact information

Newark and Retford Conservative Association
London Road
NG24 1TN
Tel: 01636 612837
Fax: 01636 612837

External Resources


  1. Peter Dominiczak, Patrick Mercer cash-for-questions case the worst of its kind, report says, The Telegraph, 01 May 2014, accessed 2 May 2014
  2. Debrett's People of Today, (Debrett's Peerage Ltd, 2007)
  3. About Patrick,, (accessed 2 May 2008)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Henry McDonald, MP: 'I was not in covert army squad', The Observer, 17 October 2004.
  5. About Patrick,, (accessed 2 May 2008)
  6. Profile: Patrick Mercer, BBC News Online, 8 March 2007
  7. About Patrick,, (accessed 2 May 2008)
  8. Andrew Alderson, 'Working on the internet from an anonymous city office, the shadowy figures exposing Islamic extremism',, 19 November 2006
  9. PDF of, created 20 November 2009
  10. Abul Taher, ‘Glen Jenvey, man behind Sun's Sugar splash, arrested over religious hatred’, Guardian, 31 December 2009.
  11. Patrick Mercer, Overseas Trips, They Work For You, Accessed 17-September-2009
  12. House of Commons, Register of Members' Interests, MERCER, Patrick (Newark) (Registered 7 June 2007)
  13. House of Commons, Register of Members' Interests, MERCER, Patrick (Newark) (Registered 7 June 2007)