Helen Grant is a British solicitor and Conservative Party politician. She is the current Member of Parliament for Maidstone and The Weald in Kent and the current Minister for Sport and Tourism. She was elected at the 2010 general election, replacing the constituency's previous incumbent, Ann Widdecombe, who had decided to step down as an MP. Grant was the first black woman to be selected to defend a Tory seat and her election made her the Conservatives' first female black MP.
Grant received her first government appointment in September 2012, when she received the dual roles of Under-Secretary of State for Justice and Under-Secretary for Women and Equalities. Grant attracted media attention in November 2012 after it emerged she was allowed to claim the maximum expenses allowed within the IPSA rules for a London flat, despite her family home being within 20 miles of London.
Helen Grant is more than capable of fighting her corner, as she demonstrated during her upbringing as the only black kid on a council estate in Carlisle by taking up judo to help defend herself against racist abuse."It was in the sixties," she recalls. "For a while I was the only person there with a darker skin. There was prejudice and bullying. But I dealt with it. I was seven or eight and I went into judo to defend myself thinking, 'well, if they see I'm good at it they won't pick a fight'."
The message was duly absorbed, as she did become good enough – to be an under-16 champion for the north of England and southern Scotland. At school she was captain of the tennis and hockey teams, and represented Cumbria in hockey, tennis, athletics and cross-country.
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