||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2008)|
|Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Antrim South
26 November 2003 – 1 June 2009
|Preceded by||Duncan Shipley-Dalton|
|Succeeded by||Danny Kinahan|
|Member of Parliament
for South Antrim
7 June 2001 – 5 May 2005
|Preceded by||William McCrea|
|Succeeded by||William McCrea|
24 August 1951 |
Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
|Political party||Ulster Unionist Party|
|Alma mater||Coleraine Academical Institution|
In the 1970s Burnside served as Press Officer for the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party, and he unsuccessfully contested North Antrim for the party at the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 1973. After the collapse of Vanguard he joined the Ulster Unionists, but took a back seat from politics for many years while working as a prominent public relations consultant based in London which led him to set up his own PR company.He also served in the Ulster Defence Regiment.
In 1984 David Burnside was recruited by the British Airways Chairman Lord King to become the company's head of public relations. In this role Burnside is widely acknowledged to have become one of the most powerful PR men in Britain, speaking for King, administering a £5,000,000 budget and receiving numerous PR awards both in the UK and around the world.
His success is perhaps overshadowed by the nature of his departure. British Airways was witnessing the emergence of a potentially strong rival, Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic. Virgin, which began with one route and one Boeing 747 in 1984 was beginning to emerge as a serious threat on some of BA's most lucrative routes.
Following Virgin's highly publicized mission of mercy to Iraq to fly home hostages who had been held by Saddam Hussein in 1991, Lord King is reported to have told Burnside and CEO Colin Marshall to "do something about Branson". This began the campaign of "dirty tricks", masterminded by Burnside, which ended in Branson suing King and British Airways for libel in 1992. King countersued Branson and the case went to trial in 1993. British Airways, faced with likely defeat, settled the case giving £500,000 to Branson and a further £110,000 to his airline; further, BA was to pay the legal fees of up to £3,000,000. Tom Bower's biography of Virgin's chief, Branson, published in 2000 gives a rather different perspective on this matter.
It was an article written by Burnside (given legal clearance) in BA News, the company's in house newsletter, that prompted Branson's legal action. In January 1993, following the settlement and investigations by BA's lawyers the board decided to sack Burnside. He was awarded a settlement of approximately £400,000 and free first class travel on BA for four years.
Return to politics
However he reversed this defeat in the 2001 general election. Along with Jeffrey Donaldson (MP) and the Rev. Martin Smyth (MP), Burnside became an outspoken critic of his party leader, David Trimble's support for the Good Friday Agreement, arguing that the Provisional IRA's slow pace of decommissioning its arms meant that Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA, should not be allowed to serve in the power-sharing government.
On 23 June 2003, Burnside, Donaldson and Smyth resigned the UUP whip in the House of Commons, launching a strong attack on Trimble's leadership. The trio successfully fought off attempts to discipline them using the courts and in November 2003 both Burnside and Donaldson were elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, Burnside declined to follow Donaldson when he resigned from the Ulster Unionist Party in December 2003. In 2005 he lost his Westminster Parliamentary seat. Burnside successfully retained his Assembly seat in March 2007.
Supporters of Burnside see him as a potential future leader of the Ulster Unionist Party; however, he declined to contest the 2005 leadership election.
Burnside resigned as an Assembly Member in June 2009 to concentrate on his business interests. His seat was taken by Antrim councillor Danny Kinahan. He currently is mulling a return to politics, maybe to his former position.
Rangers Football Club
- Coleraine Academical Institution
- [dead link]
- David Burnside Profile BBC Politics
- "1993: BA dirty tricks against Virgin cost £3m". BBC News. 11 January 1993. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "UUP rebels to face discipline", BBC News, 26 June 2003.
- "Burnside not put off Rangers bid", BBC Sport,5 March 2007.
- Gregory, Martyn. Dirty Tricks: British Airways' Secret War Against Virgin Atlantic. London: Virgin, 2000. ISBN 0-7535-0458-8
- BBC Profile
- Glasgow Rangers Burnside Article
- Maiden Speech : House of Commons - 26 June 2001
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by David Burnside
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for South Antrim
|Northern Ireland Assembly|
|MLA for Antrim South
2003 - 2009