Edward was born in 1950. He was educated at St Phillips School, London, the Oratory School Berkshire, the French Lycee, London and at Durham University (Modern History), where he was President of the Union Society.
He is the younger son of Sir Neville Leigh K.C.V.O., former clerk to the Privy Council. He is married with three daughters and three sons.
He is a barrister, and a member of the Inner Temple, practising for Goldsmiths Chambers in arbitration and criminal law.
Edward was a member of Richmond Borough Council and then the Greater London Council from 1974 until 1981.
He worked in the private office of Mrs Thatcher from 1976 to 1977 as private secretary in charge of her correspondence as Leader of the Opposition.
Edward fought Teeside Middlesborough in the October 1974 General Election. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Gainsborough and Horncastle in the June 1983 General Election. He was Joint Secretary of the Conservative Parliamentary Defence Committee and the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee from 1983 to 1985.
Until early 1985 he was Chairman of the National Council for Civil Defence and Director of the Coalition For Peace Through Security. From 1990 to1993, he was a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry. Prior to that he was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Home Office.
In May 1997 he became an elected Member of Parliament for the new seat of Gainsborough with a majority of 6,826.
From 1995 to 2000 he was a member of the Social Security Select Committee, and from 1997 to 2001 Joint Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Edward has also been the Chairman of the Public Accounts Select Committee since July 2001.