Gulam Noon, Baron Noon
|The Right Honourable|
The Lord Noon
|Member of the House of Lords|
31 January 2011 – 27 October 2015
Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon|
24 January 1936
27 October 2015 (aged 79)|
Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon, Baron Noon, MBE (24 January 1936 – 27 October 2015) was a British businessman originally from Mumbai, India. Known as the "Curry King", Noon operated a number of food product companies in Southall, London. He was a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Ismaili Shia community
Noon was born in 1936, into a Muslim family which operated a sweet shop in Bombay. His father died when he was 7, and a relative ran the business until Noon took over its management at the age of 17. He renamed the shop "Royal Sweets", and expanded its clientele and size until it was capable of exporting internationally.
Noon founded and operated a number of food product companies in Southall, London, specialising in Indian cuisine. His main business was Noon Products which he established in September 1987, manufacturing chilled and frozen Indian and Thai ready meals, predominantly for UK supermarkets. Whilst he didn't invent the dish, Noon is credited with the popularity of chicken tikka masala in Britain.
In 1994, the company experienced a serious factory fire which destroyed much of its manufacturing capability, however within ten weeks of this fire the company had begun selling its products again. Noon kept all his staff in employment during this period.
In March 2006 he came to wider notice as one of the businessmen embroiled in the "Cash for Peerages" scandal when it emerged that he had loaned £250,000 to the Labour Party. He was given an MBE for services to the food industry in 1994 (under a Conservative government) and knighted in 2002. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said that awarding knighthoods to party donors, like Noon, would devalue the whole honours system.
Noon was a declared backer of the Britain in Europe group, a pro-European pressure group and as a former trustee of the Maimonides Foundation, a charitable organisation promoting dialogue between Jews and Muslims.
A "castaway" on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs in 2004, in The Sunday Times Rich List 2006 he was placed in 888th position with an estimated fortune of £65 million. He died of cancer on 27 October 2015.
Views on extremist imams
Noon was among those trapped in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel by terrorists, during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, but was rescued and later appeared on BBC News to describe his experiences. He subsequently praised the response by India's Muslim community to the attacks, saying:
"Indian Muslims have refused to bury the nine dead terrorists. They are still in the mortuary. It is a good symbolic message for the rest of secular India." "Now Britain needs to get tough with the radical imams. We have the power to do something."
He also called for Britain to toughen measures against extremist Muslim preachers, and said that the door was open for foreign imams to radicalise young Muslims in mosques across Britain:
"Having seen what I saw at close quarters, the indiscriminate violence and pain inflicted in the name of my religion, I am astounded that I hear from friends in the community that radical preachers are still coming to this country and praising attacks by Al-Qaeda and suicide missions. There is a limit to free speech. Extremists who preach their approval of suicide bombers should be sent back to their country of origin."
He died of cancer on 27 October 2015.
Noon was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1996 New Year Honours. He was later made a Knight Bachelor in the 2002 Birthday Honours, having the honour conferred in December that year.
Noon was Chancellor of the University of East London - a titular position - where he presided over the degree ceremonies.
On 27 January 2011, he was created a life peer as Baron Noon, of St John's Wood in the London Borough of Camden and was introduced in the House of Lords on 31 January 2011, where he sat on the Labour benches.
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The Lord Rix
| Chancellor of the University of East London