Born in Stockport, Cheshire Patrick Mercer is the son of Eric Arthur John Mercer, who became Bishop of Exeter. His mother was born in Lincolnshire. He was educated at The King's School, Chester and went on to read History at Exeter College, Oxford. He later studied at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Mercer was Mentioned in Despatches in 1983 whilst serving in Northern Ireland and earned a gallantry commendation in 1990 and the MBE in 1992. In 1997 he received the OBE for services in Bosnia. Mercer was the target of two IRA assassination attempts, which are detailed in the books Dirty War and Trigger Men, both by Martin Dillon.
Upon being selected as the Conservative candidate in Newark, Mercer left the BBC and became a freelance journalist writing for the Daily Telegraph.
The post of Shadow Minister for Homeland Security does not have an immediate equivalent in government. The Rt Hon Adam Ingram, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces whom Mercer scrutinizes as part of his brief, commented in September 2003 that "I note that he calls himself a Shadow Minister, but he is more of a ghost Minister, because he does not have a department to shadow."
In 2004 he attempted to introduce a Private Member's Bill in response to the publicity surrounding the case of Tony Martin that proposed to give householders greater powers when protecting their property from burglary. This Bill failed to become law as his party did not support it.
I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours. I remember one guy from St Anne's (Nottingham) who was constantly absent and who had a lot of girlfriends. When he came back one day I asked him why, and he would say: 'I was racially abused'. And we'd say: 'No you weren't, you were off with your girlfriends again'.
I had five company sergeant majors who were all black. They were without exception UK-born, Nottingham-born men who were English - as English as you and me... They prospered inside my regiment, but if you'd said to them: 'Have you ever been called a nigger?' they would have said: 'Yes'. But equally, a chap with red hair, for example, would also get a hard time - a far harder time than a black man, in fact. But that's the way it is in the Army. If someone is slow on the assault course, you'd get people shouting: 'Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard'.
In my experience, when you put on the uniform then all differences disappear. If you are a good soldier, you will do well. If you are a bad soldier, you will leave prematurely. There is a degree of colour-blindness among the vast majority of soldiers. I never came across a piece of nastiness inside the battalion that was based exclusively on racism.
Mr Mercer was forced to resign, with Tory leader David Cameron responding to the remarks, saying "The comments made by Patrick Mercer are completely unacceptable and I regret that they were made. We should not tolerate racism in the Army or in any walk of life. Patrick Mercer is no longer a shadow minister.
Mr Mercer was criticised by fellow Tory MP, Alan Duncan, who said he "appeared to be indifferent to the fact that someone was taunted for being black."
However, Mr Mercer's former army colleague, Leroy Hutchinson, a black ex-Corporal defended his remarks saying "He never tolerated racism in the battalion and not a single one of his men would consider him to be racist.", adding "In the forces... name-calling - whether you be black, white, ginger, red, brown - it is part of the establishment."