Malcolm Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness

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Malcolm Ian Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness, PC (born 3 November 1948) is a British Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords as one of the remaining hereditary peers. He is also chief of Clan Sinclair. He is the Chief Executive of the Clan Sinclair Trust.


The Earl was educated at Blairmore School, Aberdeenshire then Marlborough College and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.

House of Lords and other political offices[edit]

Lord Caithness served as a House of Lords government whip under Margaret Thatcher from 1984 to 1985. He then moved to the Department of Transport as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, serving until 1986 when he became a Minister of State at the Home Office. In 1988 he was once again moved, this time to be Minister of State at the Department of Environment. In 1989, he became Paymaster-General.

In 1990, Lord Caithness was again shuffled to the Foreign Office as a Minister of State, and then in 1992 back to the Department of Transport. He married Diana Caroline Coke (1953–1994) in 1975. In January 1994, Lord Caithness resigned from the Government following the suicide of his wife, Diana, after news broke that he had been having an affair. In 2004, he married Leila C. Jenkins in Rosslyn Chapel.[1] The Earl filed for divorce a year later.

With the passage of the House of Lords Act 1999, Lord Caithness, along with most other hereditary peers, lost his automatic right to sit in the House of Lords. He was however elected as one of the 90 representative peers to remain in the House of Lords under the provisions of the act.

He was made a privy counsellor in 1990. He is an opponent of fractional-reserve banking.[2]

The earl has been a trustee of Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust since its inception in 1996. In 1999 he helped found a heritage charity, the Clan Sinclair Trust, the aim of which is the preservation and conservation of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, near Wick in Caithness. He serves as chief executive and has been responsible for getting the castle listed by the World Monuments Fund in its Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World in 2002, the fundraising and overseeing the remedial works which has allowed the castle to be accessible and open to the public.

Clan Sinclair[edit]

In 2009 the Earl, when referring to the role of Clan Chiefs said "...I do not believe there is an obligation towards the clan in any formal sense. For many years I took no interest in the Clan because I was too busy earning a living and bringing up the family...If a chief can give the time, particularly to the Diaspora, then there are huge rewards for everyone and I would hope that most chiefs can do that."[3]

In 2010, the chief of the Clan Sinclair was advertised on a third party internet site as the host for a £7,588 UK trip, most of which was to be in Scotland, including a tour of Westminster and the chance to meet "various colleagues" including the Speaker. The trip was to raise funds for a charity, the Clan Sinclair Trust, but a disgruntled former donor to the Trust complained to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards Paul Kernaghan that this would breach the rules on use of Westminster facilities. The tour was cancelled before the complaint was made but the Commissioner said the Earl would have breached the rules on use of Westminster facilities had it gone ahead. The Earl apologised and promised not to do it again.[4][5]



  1. ^ Ward, Louise (November 15, 2004). "Earl of Caithness marries American businesswoman". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ Hansard archives
  3. ^ Chief to Chief - Malcolm Sinclair, The Earl of Caithness Jamie Sempill 07/15/2009 10:17 AM [1]
  4. ^ The Conduct of the Earl of Caithness - Privileges Committee Contents July 19, 2010 [2]
  5. ^ "The Tory Earl, the $10,000 parliamentary tours and the outraged Lords and MSPs" TheHerald, Scotland May 23, 2010 [3]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Brooke
Paymaster General
Succeeded by
Richard Ryder
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
James Sinclair
Earl of Caithness