Gulam Noon, Baron Noon

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The Lord Noon
MBE
Born Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon
(1936-01-24)24 January 1936
Bombay, India
Died 27 October 2015(2015-10-27) (aged 79)
London, England
Nationality Indian
Citizenship British
Organization Noon Products
Bombay Halwa
Political party Labour Party

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

Early life[edit]

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.[1]

In 1964, Noon travelled to Britain and emigrated permanently in 1972. He established a sweet shop in Southall, producing such products as Bombay mix.[1]

Career[edit]

Noon group offices at Queen Anne's Gate, London.

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.[1]

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.[2]

In 2005, Noon Products was taken over by Irish food conglomerate Kerry Group.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

He was awarded an Honorary Degree from the University of East London on 12 November 2009.[7] In January 2013, Lord Noon was appointed as the chancellor of the University of East London.[8]

Personal life[edit]

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.[9]

Views on extremist imams[edit]

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.[10] 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."[11]

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."[12]

He died of cancer on 27 October 2015.[13]

Honours[edit]

Noon was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1996 New Year Honours.[14] He was later made a Knight Bachelor in the 2002 Birthday Honours,[15] having the honour conferred in December that year.[16]

Noon has been an honorary member of the University of East London, presiding over graduation ceremonies including the 2013 cohort.

On 27 January 2011, he was created a life peer as Baron Noon, of St John's Wood in the London Borough of Camden[17] and was introduced in the House of Lords on 31 January 2011,[18] where he sat on the Labour benches.

On 26 April 2012, Noon was made a Fellow of Birkbeck, a constituent college of the University of London.

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Lord Noon, businessman - obituary". The Telegraph. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Davidson, Andrew (27 November 2008). "The MT Interview: Sir Gulam Noon". Management Today. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Smith, Peter (6 August 2005). "Noon Products sold to Kerry Group for £125m". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  4. ^ "Levy's advice to donor revealed". BBC News. BBC. 11 July 2006. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Donor's knighthood 'undermines system'". BBC News. BBC. 17 June 2002. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "Maimonides Foundation". Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "James Caan, Sir Gulam Noon MBE and West Ham United celebrate Business School graduates success". 
  8. ^ "UEL new chancellor". Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "The Statesman: Britain's Curry King Lord Gulam Noon passes away". thestatesman.com. 
  10. ^ Thomson, Alice; Sylvester, Rachel (27 November 2008). "Sir Gulam Noon, British 'Curry King': how I escaped bombed hotel". London: The Times. Retrieved 28 November 2008. 
  11. ^ "Noon lauds Indian Muslim response to 26/11". Press Trust of India. 29 November 2009. 
  12. ^ Syal, Rajeev (29 November 2009). "British Muslim tycoon Sir Gulam Noon calls for curbs on extremist imams". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "The Statesman: Britain's Curry King Lord Gulam Noon passes away". thestatesman.com. 
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54255. p. 22. 29 December 1995.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56595. p. 1. 15 June 2002.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 57030. p. 10217. 15 August 2003.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59687. p. 1657. 1 February 2011.
  18. ^ "House of Lords Business". parliament.uk. 
  19. ^ "IndiaToday.in: Latest News, Breaking India News on Bollywood, Cricket, Business, Politics". intoday.in. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Rix
Chancellor of the University of East London
2013–2015
Succeeded by
TBD