Richard was born in Sheffield in 1966. He was elected as Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam in May 1997, and held the seat in 2001 with an increased majority. He has a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Pembroke College, Cambridge and an MSc in Information Technology from Bristol Polytechnic. He worked as a Field Archaeologist in Britain, France and the Netherlands from 1984-85, and in Ecuador from 1988-89. Prior to his election he worked for the National Health Service from 1991-7, developing information systems to support primary health care. He is a member of Amnesty International and of local groups the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society and Friends of the Porter Valley. He was Chairman of the Information Select Committee of the House of Commons from 1998 to 2001. He was a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee from 1997-8 and of the Employment Select Committee from 2000-1.
Richard is currently a member of the Information Select Committee and the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons. He is on the Board of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and a trustee of the Industry and Parliamentary Trust. He is also an unpaid Director of Sheffield City Trust, a charitable company that runs the major Sheffield sporting and entertainment venues. Richard is active in several All Party Groups, including the Internet Group, the Latin America Group, the Colombia Group and the Modernisation Group. Richard is the Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Information Technology. He speaks and writes regularly on a broad range of technology related subjects and takes a particular interest in the development of e-democracy and e-government.