Legatum Institute

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Legatum Institute
TypeThink tank
Purpose"Promoting policies that lift people from poverty to prosperity"
Headquarters11 Charles Street, London, W1J 5DW
Key people
Alan McCormick (chairman), Toby Baxendale

The Legatum Institute is a think tank based in London, UK.[1][2] Its stated aim is to advance the education of the public in national and international political, social and economic policy.[3] The Institute has over forty donors including the Legatum Foundation.[4] It has been called "arguably the most influential think tank in Britain pushing its free market pro-Brexit vision and enjoying privileged access to media and ministers" but it has attracted controversy as a result of its opaque, offshore funding.[5]

History, operations and funding[edit]

The Legatum Institute was founded in 2007, funded by the Dubai-based Legatum Group under its owner Christopher Chandler, a businessman and hedge fund owner.[6] Chandler and his brother, Richard, made their money in Russia in the 1990s/2000s and at one time had a 4% stake in the Russian state-owned company, Gazprom. The Institute is a beneficiary of his family foundation, Legatum Foundation.[7] The foundation is registered in Bermuda and controlled by a company in the Cayman Islands.[5] The Legatum Foundation donates to a number of philanthropic initiatives, including the END Fund[8] and the Freedom Fund.[9]

In 2018, it was criticised by the Charity Commission for breaching its charitable objectives in publishing a partial and biased account of the benefits of free trade post-Brexit.[10] It was closely aligned with the Vote Leave campaign giving fellowships to the campaign's chair, Gisela Stuart, and its CEO, Matthew Elliott. In 2017, it set up a "Special Trade Commission" headed by Shanker Singham, who became a prominent pro-Brexit voice across the media.[citation needed]

It claims to be funded by more than 40 donors. These are not listed on its site or in its financial declarations.[11] The Institute is currently located in Mayfair.[12] Philippa Stroud (formerly Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice, and a Conservative Party Peer in the House of Lords) was appointed CEO of the Legatum Institute in 2016 and left this post in March 2023 to head up the Institute’s Alliance for Responsible Citizenship.[13][14][15]

The Institute has been subject to controversy by way of Chandler, who in 2018 was accused of links to Russian intelligence by Bob Seely, a Conservative MP.[16] Seely claimed that he and other MPs had seen French intelligence documents from 2005 suggesting he was a counterintelligence concern; Chandler and the Institute strongly disputed the allegations.[16] Labour MP Ben Bradshaw had called for a Parliamentary investigation into the Institute's funding and support the previous year.[16] In 2018, Chandler filed a libel lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against a private investigator he alleges produced the information claiming to show his ties to Russian intelligence.[17] In 2022 Bryant conceded that the claims about Chandler had subsequently been disproved.[18]

Reports and advocacy[edit]

Current programmes and policies[edit]

The Institute currently has a number of programmes including: the global prosperity index, African prosperity, Central and Eastern European prosperity, UK prosperity, United States prosperity, Social Metrics Commission, global index of economic openness, cultural transformation, race equality commission, peace and reconciliation, courage in journalism, global people movements and the 21st century international development.[19]

The Legatum Institute founded the 'Courage in Journalism' award in 2017 following the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia that same year.[20] The award was created to highlight the dangers faced by journalists around the world and to support press freedom.[21][22] In 2019, Jan Kuciak, a Slovakian Journalist who died in 2018 at the age of 27, was named the winner of the annual prize.[23] In 2020, the award was given to Syrian journalist Raed Fares who ran Fresh Radio and was assassinated in Idlib.[24] The panel of judges included award-winning journalist Christina Lamb among others.[25]

The Legatum Institute houses the Social Metrics Commission, founded in 2016, which published its first report into UK poverty levels in 2018.[26][27] The report found that 14.4 million people were living in poverty in 2017, including 4.5 million children.[28] On the 17th May 2019, the Department for Work and Pensions announced that it would adopt the Social Metrics Commission's methodology for measuring poverty in the UK.[29][30] This was largely achieved due to the cross-party involvement and support of the new measure.[31][32][33] The Commission's modelling was used by Baroness Stroud and the Legatum Institute in a campaign to call for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to retain the £20 Universal Credit uplift in Autumn 2021. The Institute estimated that "840,000" people would be shielded from poverty if the cut on Universal Credit was axed. [34][35]

Legatum Prosperity Index[edit]

The Legatum Institute publishes the annual Legatum Prosperity Index,[36] which measures prosperity across countries by applying a combination of material wealth and life satisfaction factors. The report has been in continuous publication since its launch in 2007 and has expanded its coverage from 50 countries to 167 in 2020.[37][38][39]

Global People Movements programme[edit]

The Institute also runs the Global People Movements programme, which considers the largest movement of forcibly displaced people since the Second World War.[40]

Historic programmes[edit]

At the 2015 Africa Prosperity Summit, the Legatum Institute participated as a panellist during the session on "Stoking African Innovation: Ways and Means", which focused on addressing economic and social requirements.[41] The same year, the Institute commissioned YouGov to investigate public attitudes towards capitalism, which highlighted a nearly universal belief that the biggest corporations in the world had become successful through cheating and at the expense of the environment.[42]

In 2017, the Legatum Institute commissioned a poll by Populus, estimating the views of the general British public on the Institute's political priorities.[43] The top priorities for respondents were: food and water; emergency services; universal healthcare; a good house; a decent well-paying job; and compulsory and free education. At the bottom were owning a car and cheap air travel.[44] The British public:

  • Favour public ownership of the UK's water, electricity, gas and railway sectors
  • Believe taxes should rise to provide more funding for the NHS
  • Support higher levels of regulation
  • Favour wage caps for CEOs
  • Favour worker representation at senior executive and board level
  • Support the abolition of zero hour contracts
  • Hold an unfavourable view of 'capitalism; as a concept, viewing it as 'greedy', 'selfish' and 'corrupt'.[45]

Writing in The Sunday Times, Will Clothier used the poll to reflect that "capitalism has delivered for too few".[46]

In July 2018, Legatum Institute released a report linking "anxiety, self-harm and other mental illness with high social media use among young people". The report argued that this is damaging families and young people's relationships with other adults.[47][48] More widely, Legatum Institute has advocated the use of parenting courses as a useful way of embedding parental skills and values to support children, but that the take up of these courses remains low due to stigma (people relating such courses incorrectly to 'troubled families' and 'poor parenting'), poor accessibility and lack of familiarity with the trainer's and facilitators.[49]

Other initiatives[edit]

In October 2013, the Legatum Institute co-founded the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) in partnership with entrepreneur Luke Johnson.[50][51] Its intention is to research and communicate the positive impact of entrepreneurs on the economy and society. The CFE took ownership of Startup Britain in 2014 and has released research on the role universities should play in entrepreneurship[52] and the benefits of offering entrepreneurship schemes to pre-release prisoners.[53]

Role in Brexit[edit]

The think tank has been widely characterised as influential in the Brexit debate.[4][54] In July 2017, soon after the UK's EU referendum result, Legatum Institute formed the Special Trade Commission, headed by Shanker Singham (who backed remain in the run-up to the EU referendum) and included former New Zealand Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization Crawford Falconer as a commissioner.[54] This group provided reports looking at the UK's future trade negotiations. The Special Trade Commission's work was seen by some commentators as pushing for a "hard Brexit",[55] although the Institute said their role was to support the referendum result and pointed out that the Institute took no public position in the lead-up to the EU referendum.[56]

The Institute proposed using unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the Republic of IrelandNorthern Ireland border issue post-Brexit.[57] The solution, which by the report's own admission faced issues around cost and bad weather, was criticised[58] – the Daily Telegraph describing it as being "held up to ridicule".[59] The report proposed other potential measures including re-purposing the Special EU Programmes Body and creating a special economic zone, an idea also put forward by the Republic of Ireland's main opposition party.[57] Crawford Falconer left the Special Trade Commission to become the Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser and Second Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Trade in June 2016.[60] Shanker Singham left the institute in March 2018[61][62] to take his team to the Institute of Economic Affairs and Matthew Elliott left in May 2018.[63] In May 2018, the institute announced it would end its Brexit-related research.[64]

In June 2018 the UK’s Charity Commission said the Institute's 'Brexit Inflection Report' could be seen as seeking to achieve a "particular final outcome", something that would constitute political activity and an infringement of policy. The Institute was told to remove the report from its website.[65]


The Legatum Institute holds regular public events. In 2012 the Dalai Lama spoke at an event called "ethics for a more prosperous world".[66] In 2015, they held an event which looked at the ownership and management of public assets.[67] In 2018 they gathered thinkers from different perspectives and let them argue under the Chatham House Rule to promote debate.[68]


The following people are current Fellows at the Legatum Institute:[69]

Previous Fellows have included Peter Pomerantsev, Gisela Stuart and Matthew Elliott.


  1. ^ "THE LEGATUM INSTITUTE FOUNDATION". Companies House. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Legatum Institute Foundation". Charity Commission. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  3. ^ Springer, Jon (14 November 2014). "Legatum's 2014 Prosperity Index: Asia Positives For Entrepreneurship, Indonesia, Mongolia". Forbes. Archived from the original on 7 September 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b O'Murchu, Cynthia (4 December 2017). "Legatum: the think-tank at intellectual heart of 'hard' Brexit". Financial Times. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Legatum: the Brexiteers' favourite think tank. Who is behind them?". openDemocracy. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  6. ^ "Londoner's Diary: Love's Legatum Lost in battle over Brexit". Evening Standard. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  7. ^ O'Murchu, Cynthia (29 January 2017). "Malta grants EU citizenship to Legatum backer". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  8. ^ Barasa, Louise Makau (19 August 2015). "Philanthropy: the search for the best way to give". Financial Times.
  9. ^ Murray, Sarah (4 March 2019). "Donors increasingly believe in pooling resources to create a bigger impact". Financial Times.
  10. ^ O'Murchu, Cynthia (31 May 2018). "Legatum Institute criticised by Charity Commission". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  11. ^ Leroux, Marcus (14 October 2017). "Christopher Chandler: billionaire behind Legatum think tank has unrivalled access to Brexit MPs". The Times. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Matthew Elliott: What the man behind Vote Leave did next". Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Legatum Institute - People". Archived from the original on 15 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  14. ^ Cordell, Jake (12 September 2016). "Conservative peer Baroness Stroud to become chief executive of Legatum Institute". City A.M. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  15. ^ "HP Sauce". Private Eye. No. 1462. January 2018. p. 11.
  16. ^ a b c "Founder of pro-Brexit thinktank has link with Russian intelligence, says MP". The Guardian. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  17. ^ Spence, Alex (26 October 2018). "This Billionaire Was Accused Of Being A Russian Spy. Now He's Suing The Man He Says Is To Blame For $15m". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  18. ^ Walker, Peter (27 July 2022). "Chris Bryant to say sorry to billionaire over money-laundering claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Introducing our programmes". www.li.com.
  20. ^ Muscat, Caroline (16 December 2017). "Two months since Daphne's death". The Shift. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Attacks on Journalists". 14 May 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  22. ^ "The Legatum Institute Courage in Journalism Award". 29 April 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  23. ^ Patricolo, Claudia (6 May 2019). "Ján Kuciak wins three journalism awards". Emerging Europe. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Courage in Journalism Award Goes to the Martyr Raed al-Fares". The Syrian Observer. 28 February 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  25. ^ "Remember the courageous journalists who defy the decline of press freedom". Reaction. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  26. ^ "New measure of poverty proposed for UK". Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  27. ^ "What is the new UK poverty measure – and why is it needed?". TheGuardian.com. 16 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  28. ^ "New study finds 4.5 million UK children living in poverty". TheGuardian.com. 16 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Ministers urged to make new poverty measure official". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  30. ^ Grierson, Jamie (18 May 2019). "Government to overhaul measures of poverty by 2020". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  31. ^ "Disability Support". Hansard Parliament UK. 19 December 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  32. ^ "Social Security". Hansard Parliament UK. 4 March 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  33. ^ "Finance (No.3) Bill". Hansard Parliament UK. 8 January 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  34. ^ Bloom, Dan (19 September 2021). "Universal Credit architect demands £20 cut is axed to stop 840,000 plunging into poverty". The Mirror. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  35. ^ O'Connor, Mary (6 October 2021). "Universal credit: Peer renews call for vote on benefit boost end". BBC News. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  36. ^ "Rankings". Legatum Prosperity Index 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  37. ^ EST, Lucy Harley-McKeown On 11/15/20 at 7:01 PM (15 November 2020). "Terrorism, health care holds U.S. down at 18th place in global prosperity index". Newsweek. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  38. ^ "List of thinktanks in the UK". The Guardian. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  39. ^ Kohli, Sonali (6 November 2014). "How the US stacks up to the world's most prosperous country". Quartz. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  40. ^ "The Legatum Institutes Global People Movements programme is developing a pioneering method of analysing the trends shaping today's migration patterns". Keep The Faith Magazine. n.d. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  41. ^ "LEGATUM INSTITUTE 2015 AFRICA PROSPERITY SUMMIT – PROMOTING WEALTH AND WELLBEING". Human Development Innovation Fund. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  42. ^ "What the World Thinks of Capitalism". Shorthand Social. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  43. ^ "Public opinion in the post-Brexit era: Economic attitudes in modern Britain". li.com. Legatum institute. 29 September 2017. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017.
  44. ^ Chakrabortty, Aditya (9 January 2019). "Brexit proved our economy is broken, but our leaders still have no clue how to fix it | Aditya Chakrabortty". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  45. ^ "Public opinion in the post-Brexit era:Economic attitudes in modern Britain" (PDF). Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  46. ^ Clothier, Will (9 October 2017). "No wonder nationalisation is popular when capitalism has delivered for too few". The Times. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  47. ^ Hurst, Greg (24 July 2018). "Put down phones and talk to children, parents told". The Times. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  48. ^ "Jayne Dowle: Why my family is banned from using phones at mealtimes". The Yorkshire Times. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  49. ^ Chirinda, Gerald (8 May 2018). "What can be done to economically empower women in Africa?". World Economic forum. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  50. ^ "Entrepreneurs unite to form think tank". BQLive. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  51. ^ "Serial entrepreneurs will be key to the success of the UK economy". Coutts Bank. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  52. ^ "The CFE highlights the role universities should play in supporting startups". New Asian Post. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  53. ^ "Turning prisoners into entrepreneurs would save 1.4bn per annum, claims CFE report". National Enterprise Network. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  54. ^ a b Alex Spence (22 May 2018). "The Definitive Story Of How A Former Washington Lobbyist Became 'The Brexiteers' Brain'". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 24 May 2018. Weeks after the referendum, he formed a 'special trade commission'
  55. ^ "David Davis went to seminar that drew up hard Brexit blueprint". The Guardian. 2 October 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  56. ^ "Why we've taken down an article on Christopher Chandler and the Legatum Institute". Left Foot Forward. 17 February 2018. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  57. ^ a b "Brexit: Airships could patrol Irish border, says think tank". BBC. 11 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  58. ^ "Legatum Institute's 'solution' for the Brexit border is highly problematic". LSE Brexit. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  59. ^ Foster, Peter (14 February 2019). "Brexit and the Irish border explained: why the headache is not going away any time soon". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  60. ^ "Second Permanent Secretary and Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser Crawford Falconer". Gov.uk. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  61. ^ "Legatum Institute parts ways with pro-Brexit trade expert". Financial Times. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  62. ^ "IEA poaches Legatums top team". City A.M. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  63. ^ "Matthew Elliot says farewell to the Legatum Institute". 9 March 2018. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  64. ^ "Legatum Institute calls time on its EU research". The Times. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  65. ^ "Pro-Brexit thinktank broke charity rules on politics, watchdog says". The Guardian. 31 May 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  66. ^ "His Holiness the Dalai Lama Participates in a Symposium - Ethics for a More Prosperous World". dalailama.com. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  67. ^ "Legatum Institute Event:" Sweating our assets: Yield not ownership is the answer"". Cobden Centre. 18 February 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  68. ^ Juliet Samuel (19 January 2018). "Teach authoritarian students to debate and 'no platforming' will be no more". Telegraph. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  69. ^ "Legatum Fellows". Legatum Institute.