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Malcolm Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch

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The Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Parliamentary portrait, 2019
Leader of the UK Independence Party
In office
27 November 2009 – 2 September 2010
DeputyDavid Campbell Bannerman
The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Preceded byNigel Farage
Succeeded byJeffrey Titford (acting)
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
19 June 1990
Life Peerage
Personal details
Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson

(1942-07-20) 20 July 1942 (age 81)
Political partyIndependent (2019–present)
Other political
  • Francesca Frua de Angeli
    (m. 1965; div. 1970)
  • Mary Charteris
    (m. 1977; div. 1996)
  • Caroline St Vincent Rose
    (m. 1997)

Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch (born 20 July 1942) is a British businessman and politician who was leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) from 2009 to 2010. He currently sits as an independent member of the House of Lords.[1] A Eurosceptic, he was a staunch supporter of pro-Brexit campaign Leave Means Leave.[2]


Prior to entering politics, Pearson had a career in international insurance.[3] During the Cold War, he was a leading critic of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and supported Soviet dissidents.[4] He worked closely with Russian author and dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to ensure that funds reached other artists and dissidents working inside the Soviet Union, and hosted Solzhenitsyn on his 8,000-hectare Rannoch Estate in Perthshire, Scotland.[5][6] In 1984, Pearson established the Rannoch Charitable Trust, which funded many refugees escaping from the Soviet Union. In recognition of his efforts, Pearson was awarded in 2007 the Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson Award For Values and Vision in Politics.[7]

Pearson became treasurer of the degree-awarding body to the polytechnic sector, the Council for National Academic Awards, serving from 1983 to 1992.[8][9]

Member of House of Lords[edit]

Pearson was created a life peer on 18 June 1990 as Baron Pearson of Rannoch, of Bridge of Gaur in the District of Perth and Kinross,[10] sitting as a Conservative. He entered the House for services to the insurance industry, particularly his anti-corruption stance on the Savonita affair.[3] In February 1997, Hugo Gurdon published an interview in The Daily Telegraph with Pearson, discussing his metaphysical and political beliefs and motivations.[11][12]

Pearson is a Eurosceptic of long standing.[13] In May 2004, he called for voters to back the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Pearson criticised the Conservative Party's leadership for being "silly", and argued that they should try to get UKIP members back into the fold by adopting more eurosceptic policies themselves. Along with three other Conservative peers, he was then expelled by the Conservative Party on 30 May.[14] He tabled a number of unsuccessful bills in the House of Lords demanding Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. In November 2006, he tabled the European Union (Implications of Withdrawal) Bill, which called for an official cost benefit analysis of UK's EU membership.[15] He threatened to quit the Conservatives to join UKIP, which he did on 7 January 2007, along with Lord Willoughby de Broke,[16] citing David Cameron's refusal to tell the British people about the disadvantages they suffer because of Britain's membership of the EU.[17]

Leader of the UK Independence Party[edit]

In September 2009, Lord Pearson of Rannoch announced his candidacy in the 2009 UKIP leadership election.[18][19] He won the election and was announced the new leader of UKIP on 27 November 2009. He led the party through the 2010 general election, appearing on BBC News' Campaign Show with Jon Sopel on 19 April 2010. During the interview, to talk about the party's recently launched manifesto, he appeared to have limited knowledge of what was in the manifesto, saying that he was not prepared to discuss the "minutiae" of his party's policies. He added, "I haven't remembered it all in great detail. I didn't come on to talk about this sort of thing."[20][21]

Pearson resigned his leadership in August 2010, saying he was "not much good at party politics" and that UKIP "deserved a better politician to lead it".[22]

In October 2019, Pearson resigned from UKIP to sit as an independent.[1]


Shortly after Pearson's election as UKIP leader in 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported that he had claimed more than £115,000 in Parliamentary expenses between 2001 and 2007, having designated his estate in Scotland as his main residence, although his £3.7m house in London was designated as his principal residence for tax purposes, and he was thus not liable for £275,000 in capital gains tax when he sold his London house in 2006.[23]

In reply, Pearson argued that he spent "half the year" at his Scottish estate, stating that the sum covered several years in expenses and that working as a public servant had cost him "millions" as a result of having to give up salaried work.[23]

Criticism of Islam[edit]

In 2009, Lord Pearson and cross-bencher Baroness Cox invited the Dutch Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders, to show the anti-Islam film Fitna before the House of Lords.[24] Jacqui Smith,[25] then Home Secretary, subsequently excluded Wilders from entry to the UK. In response, Pearson and Cox accused the then Government of "appeasing" militant Islam.[26] Wilders appealed successfully against his exclusion, and the film was eventually shown in the Lords in 2010.[27]

Pearson warned in 2013 that UK Muslim communities were home to "thousands of potential home-grown terrorists". He said Sharia law was "running de facto in our land" and that calls for violence were not simply coming from a "few extremists", stating: "These people hate us with frightening religious fervour and we are right to fear them." His comments were condemned by Sayeeda Warsi, the Minister of State for Faith and Communities, who responded by stating: "It points at best to an ignorance about Islam and at worst a deliberate attempt to perpetuate a distorted image of the faith."[28]

In 2014, Pearson suggested that the Quran had inspired the Murder of Lee Rigby, referring to "the violence in the Qur'an – and indeed in the life and the example of Muhammad". Member of Parliament Yasmin Qureshi called Pearson's words "lies" and "nonsensical rubbish", while another MP, Khalid Mahmood, called them Islamophobic and said: "Obviously he hasn't read the Qur'an. Islam is about submission to the Almighty. It is not about war against anybody else."[29]

Pearson invited Tommy Robinson to Parliament in 2018. A UKIP spokesperson said that Pearson had invited journalists to report on a question he asked in the House of Lords about grooming gangs and that Robinson was one of 160 people contacted by Pearson.[30][31][32]

In 2023 it was revealed that Pearson and Baroness Cox were members of a secret group called the New Issues Group, which had been operating out of the House of Lords for over a decade and collaborated with far-right anti-Muslim activists.[33] Pearson has been described as a part of the counter-jihad movement.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Pearson has been married three times, first to Francesca Frua de Angeli in 1965, with whom he had one daughter, Silvia Lady Le Marchant (born 1966) and whom he divorced in 1970. Secondly to the Hon. Mary Charteris (daughter of the Baron Charteris of Amisfield) in 1977, with whom he had two daughters (Marina and Zara) and whom he divorced in 1996. Thirdly, he was married to Caroline St Vincent Rose in 1997.[35]


  1. ^ a b "Lord Pearson of Rannoch". House of Lords. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  2. ^ "Co-Chairmen – Political Advisory Board – Supporters". Leave Means Leave. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Pay up and play the game". Investors Chronicle. 15 December 1978. "Unsavoury Savonita". The Economist. 16 December 1978.
  4. ^ "Lunch with the FT: Lord Pearson of Rannoch". Financial Times. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Centre for Research into post Communist Economies, No. 33 November 2008". Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  6. ^ Strang, Dougie (2023). The Bone Cave: A Journey Through Myth and Memory. Edinburgh: Birlinn Limited. p. 207. ISBN 9781780278353.
  7. ^ "Lord Macolm Pearson wins Henry "Scoop" Jackson Award". 2007 Jerusalem Summit. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011.
  8. ^ Sylvester, Rachel; Thomson, Alice (28 November 2009). "UKIP chief Lord Pearson fights 'dangers' of Europe and extreme Islamists". The Times.
  9. ^ "Polytechnics". House of Lords. 5 May 2016.
  10. ^ "No. 52189". The London Gazette. 21 June 1990. p. 10859.
  11. ^ "God's Euro-sceptic". The Daily Telegraph. 1 February 1997.
  12. ^ "Don't bomb Kohl". Daily Telegraph. 3 February 1997.
  13. ^ Barwick, Sandra (6 December 2000). "Euro-sceptic peer attacks BBC's 'raging Europhiles'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  14. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (30 May 2004). "Tories throw out rebel peers for backing UKIP". The Guardian.
  15. ^ "Bills and Legislation – European Union (Implications of Withdrawal) Bill". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 19 June 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  16. ^ "Conservative peers defect to UKIP". BBC News. 9 January 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  17. ^ "Ex-Tory peers join Ukip". The Guardian. Press Association. 9 January 2007.
  18. ^ "UKIP leadership: Runners and riders". BBC News. 19 November 2009.
  19. ^ Porter, Andrew (15 September 2009). "Former Tory peer favourite for Ukip leadership". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 September 2009.
  20. ^ Khan, Shoaib M (21 April 2010). "Ukip leader: "I haven't come here to discuss my manifesto"". New Statesman. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Lord Pearson on The Campaign Show". 20 April 2010. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2017 – via YouTube.
  22. ^ Bloxham, Andy (17 August 2010). "Lord Pearson resigns as leader of UKIP". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 August 2010.
  23. ^ a b Swaine, Jon (1 December 2009). "UKIP leader Lord Pearson claimed £100,000 allowances for £3.7m London home". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  24. ^ "Dutch MP banned from entering UK". BBC News. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  25. ^ Siddique, Haroon; Walker, Peter (12 February 2009). "Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders refused entry to UK". The Guardian.
  26. ^ Hope, Christopher; Bingham, John; Waterfield, Bruno (12 February 2009). "Dutch MP Geert Wilders deported after flying to Britain to show anti-Islamic film". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 February 2009.
  27. ^ "Key players: Geert Wilders". Hope not Hate. 17 January 2017.
  28. ^ "Ex-UKIP leader Lord Pearson warns of Islamist threat". BBC News. 20 November 2013.
  29. ^ Watt, Nicholas (25 November 2014). "Ex-Ukip leader condemned for Qur'an comments over Lee Rigby murder". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  30. ^ "UKIP peer criticised over Tommy Robinson meeting". BBC News. 15 March 2018.
  31. ^ Heffer, Greg (15 March 2018). "UKIP peer Lord Pearson invites ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson to Parliament". Sky News.
  32. ^ "Lord Pearson in Parliament "Can we talk about Islam?"". 15 March 2018. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  33. ^ Townsend, Mark (25 February 2023). "Secret House of Lords circle 'shown to have worked with far right'". The Guardian.
  34. ^ Aked, H.; Jones, M.; Miller, D. (2019). "Islamophobia in Europe: How governments are enabling the far-right 'counter-jihad' movement" (PDF). Public Interest Investigations. University of Bristol: 24.
  35. ^ "Pearson of Rannoch, Baron, (Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson) (born 20 July 1942)". Who's Who. A & C Black. 1 December 2021. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U30387. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the UK Independence Party
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Pearson of Rannoch
Followed by