FREE: Lord Taylor of Warwick
BRITAIN'S FIRST ever black Tory peer, Lord Taylor of Warwick, has spoken of his efforts to rebuild his life since his release from prison.
Lord Taylor, a committed Christian, was caught up in the MP expenses scandal that hit the media headlines in 2009. He became one of a handful of MPs and peers who were hauled through the courts and jailed for their misdemeanours. The Tory peer received a 12-month jail sentence in May 2011 and was released in November 2011.
He is now keen to put his past behind him, continue to play a role in public life, and be an advocate for those on the margins of society.
Recalling the drama surrounding his appearance in court, Lord Taylor said: “The court case was conducted very much in the media spotlight. There were a lot of racist and abusive comments on the Internet. I kept thinking about my mother, who had died some years before. I felt somehow that she was with me and encouraging me. I also felt in a deeper way the power of God’s word and the importance of declaring it out aloud.”
He revealed that it was his faith in God and the kindness of the prison officers that helped keep his spirits up while serving his sentence. He also made friends with his fellow inmates.
SUPPORT: Lord Taylor (writing) says he wants to continue attending events like this one held recently by the Executive and Professional Network
He said: “I experienced God’s love through the friendship and compassion of other prisoners. Many seemed grateful for the advice I gave them about their own problems. There was one black guy in particular who made the most delicious porridge I have ever tasted. He assured me that none of the ingredients were illegal and we prayed together regularly.”
Since his release last year, Lord Taylor has been busy forging a new direction for his life. And he says his experiences have made him more determined to make a difference to the plight of those on the margins of society.
“Because of my recent experiences, I have an even deeper understanding of how the marginalised in society feel,” he says, “I am also in a position to communicate the inner workings of parliament and government to the church.”
He also aims to speak up about the issues facing young black people when he re-enters the House of Lords.
“On my wing in Wandsworth Prison, most of the prisoners were young black men. There are more black males in prison than in college and that has to change. I am already on the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Committee and am advocating for more education and training in prisons.”
With Christmas approaching, Lord Taylor said he plans to spend it with his family including his three children, and sing in his church choir.