The business on...Martha Lane Fox, Britain's 'digital champion'


Why is she in the news now?


Well, Martha was appointed the "UK Digital Champion" by David Cameron, advising the Government on how to get more users and services online and therefore save money for, well, just about everyone.

She'll also sit on the board chaired by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, charged with reducing the cost of government while improving service delivery.

But she worked for the last lot

That's true. Funnily enough, she was a champion for Gordon Brown, too – of "digital inclusion", which meant she was supposed to help make the British public more "tech savvy". Her role appears to have been expanded to have just a bit more substance to it. She's looking for cuts, after all.

She's of the great and good, then?

Pretty much. Having made a fortune from the online travel agency lastminute.com, Lane Fox spent her time picking up a series of elite jobs. She is also on the board at M&S and Channel 4. She was educated at Nick Clegg's alma mater, Westminster College, before going on to Magdalen College, Oxford.

So no surprise, then.

No, not really. Perhaps it's in the genes. Her dad, Robin Lane Fox, is a classics don at Oxford, who just happens to write a gardening column in his spare time (for the FT, natch).

What's she like?

Resilient. She has a social conscience, having founded a charitable foundation which gives grants to start-up or early-stage charities in healthcare, education and criminal justice. She was also nearly killed in a road accident in Morocco. Bouncing back like she has is really rather impressive. She was in hospital for a year as she recovered after the crash.

Anything else we should know?

Well, in among all this serious stuff she founded a karaoke bar chain. Don't laugh, it's been going for five years and there are branches in Islington, Soho, Manchester, Brighton and Cardiff. Lucky Voice attracted some snide comments when it was set up, but there is money in it and no one's laughing now.

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