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The Right Honourable
 The Baroness Jay of Paddington 

In office
27 July 1998 – 8 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by The Lord Richard
Succeeded by The Lord Williams of Mostyn

In office
27 July 1998 – 8 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by Patricia Hewitt

Born 18 November 1939 (1939-11-18) (age 70)
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Peter Jay (1961–1986)
Children Tamsin
Alma mater Somerville College, Oxford

Margaret Ann Jay, Baroness Jay of Paddington, PC (born 18 November 1939) is a British politician for the Labour Party.

Her father was former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan,[1] and she was educated at Blackheath High School, Blackheath and Somerville College, Oxford.

Between 1965 and 1977 she held production posts within the BBC, working on current affairs and further education television programmes.[1] She then became a journalist on the BBC's prestigious Panorama programme, and Thames Television's This Week. She went on to present the BBC 2 series Social History of Medicine, as well as being a contributor to Newsnight, Any Questions, Question Time and other current affairs programmes.[1]

She has a strong interest in health issues, notably as a campaigner on HIV and AIDS. She was a founder director of the National Aids Trust in 1987. She is also a patron of Help the Aged.[1]

She was appointed a life peer in 1992 with the title of Baroness Jay of Paddington, of Paddington in the City of Westminster, and acted as an opposition Whip in the House of Lords.[1] In association with the shop workers' union, she led opposition to the liberalisation of Sunday trading hours.

After her party's election victory in 1997, she became Health Spokesman and Minister for Women in the House of Lords. From 1998 she was Leader of the House of Lords, playing a pivotal role in the major reform that led to the removal of most of its hereditary members. She retired from active politics in 2001.

It is a significant feature of her political career that every office held was an unelected appointment; she was never actually elected to any public office.

Among numerous non-executive roles that she has taken on since retiring from politics, she is a non-executive director of BT Group.[2] She is currently co-chair of the cross-party Iraq Commission (along with Tom King and Paddy Ashdown) which was established by the Foreign Policy Centre think-tank and Channel 4.

Before her resignation, Jay gave an interview in which she said she did not believe in private education; it was afterwards revealed that her three children had all attended private schools. On her own part, she said she attended a "pretty standard grammar school," which was actually Blackheath High School, an independent school. She drew ridicule when she said she could understand the needs of rural voters because she had a "little cottage" in the country; this turned out to be a £500,000 house in Ireland, and she also had a large £300,000 house in the Chilterns though this had long belonged to her husband's family.[3][4] She fought to expel hereditary peers, arguably like herself, from the Lords (although, as an appointed life peer, she wasn't included in the expulsion).[3] For this, the Daily Mail wrote that Jay "has been accused of hypocrisy more often than any other member of the Government."[4]

Personal life

In 1961, she married fellow journalist, Peter Jay, himself a child of political parents: Douglas Jay, Labour MP and president of the Board of Trade, and Margaret (Peggy) Jay, member of the Greater London Council. Peter Jay was appointed ambassador to the United States of America by Dr. David Owen, Foreign Secretary in her father's government. While in the USA, she met journalist Carl Bernstein, made famous by Watergate, with whom she had a much-publicised extramarital relationship in 1979. Bernstein's wife, Nora Ephron, fictionalised the story in her novel, Heartburn, in which the character of "Thelma" is a thinly-disguised representation of Jay.[5]

Peter Jay then had an affair with their nanny, fathering a child in the process.[6] The Jays were divorced in 1986 after 25 years of marriage, and she lived for a while with Professor Robert Neild, the Cambridge economist.[3] In 1994, she married AIDS specialist Professor Michael Adler, who had been chair of the National AIDS Trust when she was its director.

She has three children: Tamsin, Alice and Patrick.


Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Richard
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Lord Williams of Mostyn
Lord Privy Seal
Preceded by
Harriet Harman
Minister for Women
Succeeded by
Patricia Hewitt


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