Voters in the East Midlands elected Bill for a sixth five-year term in July 2009 to be their Liberal Democrat MEP in the European Parliament. he is now only one of two MEPs who were elected in the very first parliament in 1979 (the other is a German Christian-Democrat).
In the parliament he is a member of ALDE (the Liberal Group), and a full member of two standing committees - on Development, and the new temporary Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering on which he coordinates the Liberals. He is also a member of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with the Indian parliament.
He co-founded the European Parliament Forum for the Combat of Counterfeit Contraband and Organised Crime. This informal cross-party group of MEPs, Commission officials from different DGs, businesses, and other organisations meets regularly to examine the various issues - for consumers, European society, and policy makers - surrounding the growing trade in illicit goods and services.
His most recent pamphlet argues the case for a European version of the FBI, which would be able to cross borders and fight international organised crime on their own terms..
Bill was born on October 3rd 1941 in Greywell, Hampshire to mother, Barbara, and father, Owen, a career army officer. Married in 1970 to Anna, Bill’s son Tom is the Political Editor of The Sun newspaper, and daughter Daisy is a freelance TV Producer and speaks fluent mandarin. Bill also has two little grandsons.
From university, Bill joined a British chemical company, British Oxygen, before moving to Fisons Fertilisers where he worked until elected in 1979.
He joined the Conservative party because its leader, Ted Heath, was a strong pro-European who took the UK into the European Community. Bill was first elected as MEP in 1979 as a Conservative representing Lincolnshire in the UK. He was re-elected in 1984 and 1989, and became Chairman and Joint-Leader of the British Conservative MEP delegation in 1993. Bill lost in the 1994 European election when there was a landslide to Labour, but in 1999 he was elected once again as a Conservative MEP. But because of the increasing anti-European attitude of the Conservative Party in Britain under Hague, he crossed the floor to join the Liberal Democrats in November 2000.
During the 1980s he wrote pamphlets about the EU's Democratic Deficit, two full-length biographies (of Trafford Leigh-Mallory and of Theodore Hook), and the first novel to be set in the European Parliament, called The Devil Knew Not (which is out of print but of which he still has a few copies available).
1973: Chair of Lambeth Vauxhall Conservatives. As Chair, Bill organised the first primary election in Britain to select a parliamentary candidate.
1974 February: he fought Carmarthen in the General Election for the Conservative party and trebled the vote.
1974 October: he fought Cardiff West in the General Election for the Conservative party and came second to the next Speaker.
1979 June: elected, in first European elections, as MEP for Lincolnshire.
1984 and 1989: re-elected.
1994: lost in the European election.
1995: Was the only delegate at Tory conference (picked out by TV cameras) who opposed Portillo's 'Who Dares Wins' speech in 1995 while the whole Tory cabinet and conference hall applauded.
1999: elected as Conservative MEP for the East Midlands region.
2000 November: crossed floor to join the Liberal Democrat party in disgust at the growing negativity and insularity of the Conservative party.
2004 and 2009: elected as Liberal Democrat MEP for the East Midlands.
2005: called for the creation of a new police force to fight crime across the EU's open borders.
2009: elected by all MEPs to be one of their five Quaestors for two and a half years to ensure that the parliament is run for the members and not for the staff. Also a full member of the Development Committee and an Alternate member of the Environment Committee.
"Big Opportunities for Small Businesses" 1981
"The Democratic Deficit" 1986, in which that phrase was first coined
"Democratising the European Community"
1989 "Enlargement of the EU"
2000 "Europe Needs an FBI"
"Greater In Europe" "Big Wing" (biography of Trafford Leigh-Mallory)
"The Man Who was John Bull" (biography of Theodore Hook)
"The Devil Knew Not" (novel set in the parliament)
"Memories of the first European Parliament 1979-84"