Irvine Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw
|Irvine Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw|
December 22, 1942
Noordhoek, Cape Town
|Education||Merchiston Castle School|
|Alma mater||Leeds University
Columbia Business School
|Known for||Institute for International Research|
|Net worth||£745 million (2012)|
|Title||Baron Laidlaw of Rothiemay|
|Political party||Conservative Party|
Irvine Alan Stewart Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw (born 12 December 1942 in Keith, Banffshire, Scotland) is a Scottish businessman, and a former member of the House of Lords. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2012 ranking of the wealthiest people in the UK he was placed 105th with an estimated fortune of £745 million.
After graduation, Laidlaw turned a small US publishing company bought in 1973 into the Institute for International Research (IIR), the world's largest conference organiser. After calling off a £500m flotation in 2001 when the market plunged, he sold in 2005 for a sum believed to be in the order of £768m.
In 1988 Laidlaw founded Abbey Business Centres, a subsidiary of IIR providing serviced office space, meeting room facilities and virtual office packages in 13 business centres in Great Britain. The first business centre opened in Glasgow, and soon the company opened up another centre in Slough, Berkshire. Other centres were added, and in 2009 a total of 13 centres made up the organisation.
Conservative Party donations
One of the largest financial backers of the UK's Conservative Party, Laidlaw was made a life peer as Baron Laidlaw, of Rothiemay in Banffshire on 14 June 2004. According to the records of the UK Electoral Commission, on 27 November 2007, Laidlaw gave a donation of £2,990,532.20 to the UK Conservative Party. Laidlaw donated £25,000 to the 2008 London Mayoral election campaign of Boris Johnson.
Lord Laidlaw was criticized in April 2007 in the press for failing to become UK tax resident despite being appointed to the House of Lords. The BBC said that, in a letter seen by them, Laidlaw "cites a variety of personal reasons" for non-compliance. Criticism by Dennis Stevenson, Baron Stevenson of Coddenham, chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, on assurances given to the Commission by Laidlaw to become a UK tax resident by April 2004, were followed by Laidlaw taking leave of absence from the House of Lords. In 2010 following the enactment of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 he stepped down from his seat in the House of Lords in order to maintain his non-domiciled status and so be able to avoid paying UK residents' taxes.
In 2004, Laidlaw said that he would over the next 20–30 years donate most of his fortune to helping disadvantaged Scots. His main vehicle was the Laidlaw Youth Project, which supported a range of charitable work for disadvantaged youngsters in Scotland from 2004 to 2007 when it became the Laidlaw Youth Trust. He has also donated:
- £2million to The Prince's Trust
- After Moray Council earmarked Rothiemay Primary School for closure, Laidlaw donated funds to a parents campaign which successfully kept 21 schools open
- £40,000 to Keith Grammar School, to fund a scheme to help senior pupils prepare for the world of work
- £1,000,000 to Merchiston Castle School his former school; despite having despised attending it, he eventually relented to persuasion by the headmaster and donated this sum. The new sixth-form house at the school, which his donation went some way to financing will therefore be named Laidlaw House.
- £9,000,000 to the University of Leeds to support the development of the new undergraduate library.
In 2007, he set up the Laidlaw Youth Trust which from 2007 to 2009 spent over £6million in Scotland on good causes related to disadvantaged children and young people. In 2007, in emerged that the Scottish Executive had given sufficient donations to pay the salary of the CEO Laidlaw Youth project, Maureen McGinn - who is also the wife of Scotland's most senior civil servant, Sir John Elvidge.
In 2008, Laidlow became a sponsor to Excelsior Academy in Newcastle's West End. He donated £30,000,000 towards the construction of the school.
He closed the Trust in 2009 because he was spending more time in South Africa and said he wanted to focus his charitable giving there. It is not known how much he has gifted in his new adopted country but he was involved in some township housing project.
Laidlaw regularly competes in historic car racing around the world with his Porsche 904GTS, Porsche 904/6, Maserati 250S & Maserati 6CM. Laidlaw also won a medal in the Scottish amateur rally, using a Ford Focus ST. In 2007 Laidlaw added a 1001 hp Bugatti Veyron to his extensive car collection, which is sometimes seen between Noordhoek and Cape Town, on the world-famous coastal road Chapman's Peak Drive.
- Sunday Times Rich List 2012 online edition
- "Tory peer Lord Laidlaw seeks treatment for sex addiction". The Sunday Times. April 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- The London Gazette: . 17 June 2004.
- "Party donations hit midterm record of £56m". The Guardian. February 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- Doward, Jamie (September 28, 2008). "How short-selling profited the Tories A group of high-profile hedge fund managers who have been criticised for exacerbating the financial crisis are part of an elite pack of Conservative supporters, reports Jamie Doward. Could David Cameron's commitment to transforming the party image fall victim to the credit crunch?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- Row over Tories’ offshore donor, Irvine Laidlaw Sunday Times - December 16, 2007
- "Tory donor criticised over tax status". The Guardian. June 7, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- "Tycoon Laidlaw to give away fortune". The Scotsman. 26 November 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- "Prince's Trust donation". The Prince's Trust. 28 June 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- "Executive funded Tory tax exile’s charity with taxpayers’ money". Sunday Herald. 20 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-27.