Gary was born in 1955 and raised on a dairy farm in East Devon. He was educated at Tiverton Grammar School in Devon and the University of London, King’s College, where he obtained a First Class Honours degree in Law in 1977. He also won the Gelf Award for top law student for that year. He is married to Janet and has a daughter (Tamsin) and son (Gareth). Gary is a committed Christian and his hobbies are reading and sport in general.
Gary was articled to a large City of London firm of solicitors until 1980 when on qualifying as a solicitor he joined Foot & Bowden in Plymouth. He specialised in Company and Employment law and became a partner at Foot & Bowden in 1984.
Gary was elected as a Councillor on the Plymouth City Council in 1986, winning a by-election by 21 votes. He was the Housing Chairman from 1989 to 1991, overseeing the largest capital and revenue budgets on the Plymouth City Council.
Gary was a member of the Environment Select Committee from July 1992 until February 1993, when he became the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Solicitor-General. In July 1994, he was made Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney-General until July 1995. From July 1995 to June 1996, Gary was appointed a Government Minister in the Whips Office. In June 1996, he was appointed a Junior Minister in the Lord Chancellor’s Department.
Gary won the newly formed constituency of South West Devon by a majority of 7,500 on 1 May 1997. As well as Shadow Lord Chancellor’s Department spokesman, he became the Parliamentary Private Secretary to John Major, the Leader of the Opposition, in May 1997. In June 1997, Gary was appointed Shadow Minister for Europe on the Opposition frontbench. From June 1998-September 2001, he was Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. From 2001 to 2002, Gary was Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, with particular responsibilities for ethnic minorities and faith communities. He has also previously served as Shadow Minister for International Affairs, as well as chairing the International Office at Conservative Campaign Headquarters and Conservatives Abroad.