THIS WEEK'S PANEL
EDWINA CURRIE is a former Conservative MP who is still remembered for having to resign as a junior health minister in 1988 after her warning that "most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella” caused a rapid decline in egg sales. She was MP for South Derbyshire from 1983 to 1997, a period covered in her notorious diaries, published in 2002. After losing her seat she hosted a talk show for five years on BBC Radio 5 Live: Late Night Currie. She has written six novels, including A Parliamentary Affair and Chasing Men and on election night this year she was to be seen in a special edition of Come Dine with Me on Channel 4. Her political career began with eleven years as a Birmingham City Councillor and she was born and brought up in Liverpool.
Dr MAGGIE ATKINSON was appointed Children’s Commissioner for England in 2009 taking up the post in March this year. The then schools secretary Ed Balls overrode the objections of the children, schools & families select committee, which had asked him to restart the selection process, after 11 of the Committee’s 14 members opposed the appointment and expressed concern that Atkinson would not be independent enough "to challenge the status quo on children's behalf". Just after starting her current job, she told The Times that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 12 and said the killers of Jamie Bulger should not have been tried in an adult court “because they were still children”. She later wrote to Jamie Bulger’s mother to apologise for the hurt caused by her comments. She began her career teaching English and taught in schools ranging from inner cities to shire counties for 11 years. Most recently she was Director of Children’s Services in Gateshead and she was appointed president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services in 2008, the professional group for senior managers in child protection. In that role she was the national figurehead for senior social workers during the Baby P crisis. She has two adult stepchildren.
CHRIS MULLIN stood down from Parliament at this year’s election, after being MP for Sunderland South since 1987. One of his "few parting thoughts" in The Guardian was this: "I doubt there is a future for an economy based on shopping. This is only a very temporary period in human history. The frantic consumerism of recent decades surely contains the seeds of its own destruction." He became a junior international development minister in 1999 but resigned in 2001, arguing he could be of more use in the world of select committees. He was brought back in 2003, as Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for Africa and the Commonwealth but returned to the backbenches in 2005. It was his ministerial career which was the subject of the first volume of his diaries, A View from the Foothills, a book which is credited with having been the inspiration for David Cameron’s pledge that at no minister should have a "dedicated car or driver" other than in exceptional circumstances. Another volume is due out this autumn. A former editor of the left-wing Tribune newspaper, Mullin successfully campaigned against the convictions of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, which he wrote about in his book Error of Judgement – the truth about the Birmingham Pub Bombings. He is the author of three novels including A Very British Coup, which was made into a successful film.
LIONEL BARBER is the Editor of the Financial Times. He was appointed in 2005 and was described by peers as a ‘journalist’s journalist’ with ‘ink in his blood’. He first joined the paper in 1985 working in a variety of posts from Brussels Bureau Chief, to US Editor and Washington Correspondent and then Editor of the Continental European edition before becoming the paper’s US Managing Editor, based in New York. In 2001 he was invited to brief George Bush on European affairs, ahead of the president’s inaugural mission to Europe. He graduated from Oxford University with joint honours in German and Modern History then began his journalism career in 1978 as a reporter for The Scotsman. In 1981, he moved to The Sunday Times as business correspondent. He has extensive television and radio experience in both the US and Europe. He has written several books and has lectured widely on US foreign policy, transatlantic relations, European security and monetary union in the US and Europe.
Any Questions is the topical discussion programme chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby in which a panel of…