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Evan Harris MP

Member of Parliament
for Oxford West and Abingdon
Assumed office 
1 May 1997
Preceded by John Patten
Majority 7,683 (14.6%)

Born 21 October 1965 (1965-10-21) (age 44)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrat
Alma mater Wadham College, Oxford

Evan Leslie Harris MB ChB MP (born 21 October 1965) is an English Liberal Democrat politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon.


Education and professional career

Evan Harris was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, the son of South African Jewish parents (his father was a medical professor), and brought up in Liverpool, where he attended the Blue Coat School. He went on to Wadham College, Oxford, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in physiology and a diploma in medical sociology. He completed his education at the Oxford Medical School where he received a Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery and qualified as a doctor. He also won a Harvard-Westlake School high school scholarship in 1984. He began his career at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in 1991 as a House Officer, he left the Royal Liverpool in 1992 and took up the same position at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, becoming a senior house officer in 1992. In 1994 he became an honourary specialist registrar in public health with the Oxfordshire Health Authority where he remained until his election to parliament.

Political career

He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1985, joining the newly formed Liberal Democrats in 1988. He was elected to the House of Commons at the 1997 General Election for Oxford West and Abingdon following the retirement of the sitting Conservative MP and former Cabinet minister John Patten. Harris gained the seat for the Liberal Democrats with a majority of 6,285 and has remained the MP there since, making his maiden speech on 21 May 1997.[1]

In parliament, he was made a frontbench spokesman on health by Paddy Ashdown in 1997, and was moved under the new leadership of Charles Kennedy in 1999 to become a spokesman on education. He was promoted to the Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet following the 2001 General Election as the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Health, but stood down to care for his girlfriend Liz O'Hara who had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme in 2003,[2] returning to the frontbench as the spokesman on science since the 2005 General Election. He was a member of the education and employment select committee for two years from 1999 and has been a member of the science and technology committee since 2003 and a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights since 2005.

Harris is strongly pro-choice and has been highly criticised by pro-life and Church leaders for this and his support of euthanasia. He has spoken in support of experimentation on animals carried out at Oxford University, which is mostly based in his constituency, most recently Pro-Test's Oxford march in February 2008.

Evan Harris is a member of the Beveridge Group within the Liberal Democrats.[3] and has been honorary president of Delga,[4] the Liberal Democrats' LGBT group since 2000 and a vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA). He serves on many all party groups and is the chairman of the all-party kidney group,[5] vice chairman of the groups on refugees, malaria, AIDS, heart disease, lupus, brain tumours, and is the treasurer of the groups on Israel and Council of Christians and Jews.

Harris was alleged to have personally profited from the sale of his second-home by the Telegraph during the expenses scandal[6], but the allegations were withdrawn following his response[7].

In 2009, Evan Harris was awarded (with Lord Avebury) the National Secular Society's Secularist of the Year Award in recognition of his role in the abolition of the common law offence of blasphemous libel.

Personal life

He has been a member of the British Medical Association since 1992[4] He is a Vice President of the British Humanist Association,[8] an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society,[4] and the Patron of the Oxford Secular Society. He is divorced and speaks French and Spanish. In 2000 he took part in the HIV vaccine trials.[9]


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Patten
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon


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