Malcolm Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Lord Pearson in 2009
|Leader of the UK Independence Party|
27 November 2009 – 2 September 2010
|Deputy||David Campbell Bannerman|
|Preceded by||Nigel Farage|
|Succeeded by||Jeffrey Titford|
|Member of the House of Lords|
18 June 1990
|Born||Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson
20 July 1942
Devizes, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
|Political party||UK Independence Party|
|Conservative (until 2007)|
|Spouse(s)||Francesca Frua de Angeli (m. 1965; div. 1970)
Mary Charteris (m. 1977; div. 1995)
Caroline St Vincent Rose (m. 1997)
Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch (born 20 July 1942, Devizes, Wiltshire) is a British businessman and former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He is a member of the House of Lords.
Born in Devizes, the son of John M. and Rosabel C. Pearson (née Moysey), and educated at Eton College, Pearson had a successful career in international insurance until he resigned on becoming leader of UKIP.
He was made a life peer on 18 June 1990 as Baron Pearson of Rannoch, of Bridge of Gaur in the District of Perth and Kinross, sitting as a Conservative. He entered the House for services to the insurance industry, particularly his anti-corruption stance on the Savonita affair.
A daughter from his second marriage, born in 1980, introduced him to the world of learning disabilities for which he has done extensive work and fundraising, in particular for the Camphill movement.
Pearson is a euro-sceptic of long standing. In May 2004, he called for voters to back the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Along with three other Conservative peers, he was then expelled by the Conservative Party on 30 May. He subsequently said that he would probably sit as an "independent Conservative". He threatened to quit the Conservatives to join UKIP, which he did on 7 January 2007, along with Lord Willoughby de Broke.
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. He has 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. He joined UKIP on 7 January 2007, citing David Cameron's refusal to tell the British people about the disadvantages they suffer because of Britain's membership of the EU.
He is also the co-founder of pro-free-trade think-tank, Global Britain, which publishes research on the BBC's EU coverage and on the cost of UK membership of the EU. He is active in the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, serving as chairman of its deerstalking committee.
Pearson has been married three times: to Francesca Frua de Angeli in 1965, with whom he had one daughter and whom he divorced in 1970; to the Hon. Mary Charteris (daughter of Martin Charteris, Baron Charteris of Amisfield) in 1977, with whom he had two daughters and whom he divorced in 1995; and to Caroline St Vincent Rose in 1997 – she stood as the UKIP candidate in Kensington in the UK general election in 2010, coming 4th with 754 votes.
In February 2009, Lord Pearson and cross-bencher Baroness Cox invited the controversial Dutch Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders, to show the anti-Islam film Fitna before the House of Lords. Jacqui Smith, then Home Secretary, subsequently excluded Wilders from entry to the UK. In response, Pearson and Cox accused the then Government of "appeasing" militant Islam. Wilders appealed successfully against his exclusion, and the film was eventually shown in the Lords in 2010.
Pearson also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Global Panel Foundation, a NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world.
In September 2009, Pearson announced his candidacy in the 2009 UKIP leadership election. 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, memorably 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 no 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." In January 2014, Nigel Farage said that "Malcolm Pearson, who was leader at the time, was picked up in interviews for not knowing the manifesto. Of course he didn't – it was 486 pages of excessive detail. Eighteen months ago I said I want the whole lot taken down, we reject the whole thing .... I didn't read it. It was drivel. It was 486 pages of drivel .... It was a nonsense."
Support for Soviet dissidents
During the Cold War, Lord Pearson became famous as a leading critic of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and for his support for Soviet dissidents. Pearson worked closely with the Russian author and dissent Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to ensure that funds reached other artists and dissents working inside the Soviet Union, and hosted Solzhenitsyn on his Rannoch estate. 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.
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.
Previously he had spoken of the disconnect between ordinary people and the political class. In reply, Pearson argued that he spent "half the year" at his Scottish estate, pointed out that the sum covered several years in expenses, and explained that working as a public servant had cost him "millions" as a result of having to give up salaried work.
In November 2013, Pearson was criticised for his comments about Islam in the United Kingdom, stating, "We see Sharia law running de facto in our land and we see a birth rate which is several times ours" and "These people hate us with frightening religious fervour and we are right to fear them." This was 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."
In June 2014, during a debate on the Trojan Horse Affair – "What Faith in Our Schools?", hosted in Birmingham by the BBC, Lord Pearson asked: "Given all that is happening in Africa as well, why do the Government go on intoning that Islam is a religion of peace?".
In November 2014, Pearson suggested that the Quran had inspired the killing of Fusilier 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."
- "Lord Pearson of Rannoch". Lord Pearson of Rannoch. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Pay up and play the game", Investors Chronicle, 15 December 1978 and "Unsavoury Savonita", The Economist, 16 December 1978
- "God's Euro-sceptic" Daily Telegraph, 1 February 1997
- Daily Telegraph letters "Don't bomb Kohl". 3 February 1997
- Barwick, Sandra (6 December 2000). "Euro-sceptic peer attacks BBC's 'raging Europhiles'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
- The Times[dead link]
- "Conservative peers defect to UKIP". BBC News. 9 January 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Bills and Legislation - European Union (Implications of Withdrawal) Bill". Publications.parliament.uk. 19 June 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Global Britain". Global Britain. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Moir, Jan (14 April 2010). "Move over Sarah and SamCam ... step up Lady Caroline of UKIP". Daily Mail. London.
- "Dutch MP banned from entering UK". BBC News. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- The Guardian, "Far-right Dutch MP refused entry to UK", 12 February 2009
- The Daily Telegraph, "Dutch MP Geert Wilders deported after flying to Britain to show anti-Islamic film", 12 February 2009
- "UKIP leadership: Runners and riders", BBC News, 19 November 2009
- Former Tory peer favourite for Ukip leadership, The Daily Telegraph, 15 September 2009.
- Lord Pearson resigns as leader of UKIP, The Daily Telegraph, 17 August 2010.
- "Independent Thinker"[permanent dead link], Spectator, 21 August 2010.
- "Lunch with the FT: Lord Pearson of Rannoch". Ft.com. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Centre for Research into post Communist Economies, No. 33 November 2008". Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Lord Macolm Pearson wins Henry "Scoop" Jackson Award 2007 Jerusalem Summit. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- Swaine, Jon (1 December 2009). "UKIP leader Lord Pearson claimed £100,000 allowances for £3.7m London home". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Swaine, Jon (29 November 2009). "UKIP leader Lord Pearson claimed £100,000 allowances for £3.7m London home". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Ex-UKIP leader Lord Pearson warns of Islamist threat". BBC News. 20 November 2013.
- Hansard. 22 July 2014 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/140722-0001.htm#14072254000366. Missing or empty
- Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent (25 November 2014). "Ex-Ukip leader condemned for Qur'an comments over Lee Rigby murder". theguardian.com. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- Lord Pearson on the UKIP website
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party