David Burnside

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Northern Ireland politician. For the footballer, see David Burnside (footballer).
David Burnside
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for South Antrim
In office
26 November 2003 – 1 June 2009
Preceded by Duncan Shipley-Dalton
Succeeded by Danny Kinahan
Member of Parliament
for South Antrim
In office
7 June 2001 – 5 May 2005
Preceded by William McCrea
Succeeded by William McCrea
Personal details
Born David Wilson Boyd Burnside
(1951-08-24) 24 August 1951 (age 64)
Ballymoney, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Ulster Unionist Party
Children 2
Alma mater Queen's University Belfast
Profession Businessman
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Unit Ulster Defence Regiment

David Wilson Boyd Burnside (born 24 August 1951) is a Northern Ireland politician, and was Ulster Unionist Party Member of Parliament for South Antrim.

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.[1] 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.[2]He also served in the Ulster Defence Regiment.[3]

British Airways[edit]

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[citation needed] 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[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed][4]

Return to politics[edit]

He was selected to defend the South Antrim constituency for the Ulster Unionists in a by-election in 2000, but narrowly lost to the Democratic Unionist Party candidate Rev. Willie McCrea.

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.[5] 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. 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.

David Burnside was revealed to have taken a group of prominent Russians, including a close ally of Vladimir Putin, to the 2013 Conservative summer fundraising party and introduced them to David Cameron.[6]

Rangers Football Club[edit]

Burnside was linked to a potential Rangers takeover in 2007[7] but nothing came of it. There was not enough investment available for the move.



External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William McCrea
Member of Parliament for South Antrim
Succeeded by
William McCrea
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Duncan Shipley-Dalton
MLA for Antrim South
2003 - 2009
Succeeded by
Danny Kinahan