In the news

October 1, 1999

Along with the rather dull recreations of music, running and reading he lists in Who's Who, Trevor Phillips includes "mischief".

It is not a hobby automatically associated with the Blairite, respected television journalist, former National Union of Students president and candidate for London mayor.

But perhaps he has calmed down in recent years. Born to a poor West Indian family in North London, he started life in a two-bedroom house shared with eight other people.

He spent time in Guyana, where he was educated at Queen's College, Georgetown. There he did get up to mischief, leading a school strike and finding himself arrested at gunpoint and severely reprimanded.

Returning to London to study chemistry at Imperial College, he became involved in student politics, encouraged by his father, a former railway worker and then postman, who was an active trade unionist.

He was elected president of the NUS in 1978, and was a leading figure, with Peter Mandelson, in the British delegation to the World Youth Festival in Cuba. His friendship with the former trade and industry secretary is so close that Mandelson was best man at his wedding to Asha, a child psychotherapist. The couple have two daughters.

On leaving the NUS in 1980, Phillips became a researcher at London Weekend Television, moving on to be a producer, reporter, presenter, editor and head of current affairs, before setting up a production company.

A committed campaigner on race issues, he has been a chairman of the Runnymede Trust as well as the Hampstead Theatre and London Arts Board.

Described as "urbane, articulate and good-looking" but also "woolly" and "lacking in personality", his bid to become mayor is said to be hampered by low voter recognition.

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