Mark was born in Islington, North London in 1965 and moved to Basildon, Essex, with his parents in 1971. He was educated at St. Nicholas Comprehensive School, Basildon, and went on to read History at Bristol University, before taking a Master's Degree in War Studies at King's College, London.
Following graduation, Mark worked as a graduate trainee for Lloyds Bank, before leaving banking to work in consultancy for Market Access International. In 1995 Mark set up his own consultancy business, working in the field of public affairs (which he wound up when he was elected to Parliament in 2001).
In the 1980s Mark also served as an officer cadet and then an infantry officer in the Territorial Army, leading a NATO-roled TA infantry platoon in what was then the 5th Battalion (Volunteers) of the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Mark was elected to Basildon District Council in the early 1990s. He served for four years, during which time he also ran the successful canvas operation which helped David Amess to retain his seat during the Conservative victory in Basildon in 1992. From 1995 to 97 Mark was the prospective Conservative candidate in Brent East, where he fought Ken Livingstone. Mark was subsequently elected to Parliament as MP for Rayleigh in Essex in 2001. The constituency became Rayleigh and Wickford in 2010.
Helping to lead the Parliamentary element of the "Save Essex Police" campaign, which successfully resisted plans to merge the Essex Constabulary with those of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. These plans were unpopular in Essex (and indeed in Herts & Beds too) and Mark organised a pledge of support for the force by Essex MPs from all parties.
Mark also participated in debates, numerous media interviews and a protest on College Green, as well as meeting Home Office Ministers to argue in favour of his County police force.
Hill-walking, reading, tennis (a bit rusty it has to be said), history, especially military history.
Mark was married in 2000 but divorced in 2006 (no children). Mark's elder brother, Brian, served as a detective in the Metropolitan Police.