Malcolm Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch

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Malcolm Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch : biography

20 July 1942 –

Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch (born 20 July 1942, Devizes, Wiltshire) is a British businessman and the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He is a member of the House of Lords.

Support for Soviet dissidents

During the Cold War, Lord Pearson became famous as a leading critic of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and by 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. 2007 Jerusalem Summit. Retrieved 2010-03-24.

Biography

Born in Devizes, the son of John M. Pearson and Rosabel C 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."Pay up and play the game", Investors Chronicle, 15 December 1978 and "Unsavoury Savonita", The Economist, 16 December 1978

In February 1997, Hugo Gurdon published an interview in the Daily Telegraph with Pearson, discussing his metaphysical and political beliefs and motivations."God’s Euro-sceptic" Daily Telegraph, 1 February 1997Daily Telegraph letters "Don’t bomb Kohl". 3 February 1997

Pearson became Treasurer of the degree-awarding body to the Polytechnic sector, Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) serving from 1983-1992.

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. He 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 our EU membership. He joined the United Kingdom Independence Party 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 a pro free trade think-tank, Global Britain, which publishes research on the BBC’s EU coverage and on the cost of UK membership, in bullet-point format.

He is a supporter of 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 courted controversy when he and cross-bencher Baroness Cox invited Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders to show the anti-Islam film Fitna before the House of Lords. However, Wilders was prevented from entering the UK on the instructions of the then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith.The Guardian, , 12 February 2009 In response, Pearson and Cox accused the then Government of "appeasing" militant Islam.The Daily Telegraph, , 12 February 2009 Wilders appealed successfully against his exclusion, and the film was eventually shown in the Lords in 2010.

In September 2009 Pearson announced his candidacy in the 2009 UKIP leadership election."", BBC News, 19 November 2009, The Daily Telegraph, 15 September 2009. He won the election and was announced the new leader of UKIP on 27 November 2009. He resigned his leadership in August 2010, saying he was "not much good at party politics"., The Daily Telegraph, 17 August 2010., Spectator, 21 August 2010.

Expenses controversy

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 £3.7m house in London as his principle residence for tax purposes, and his estate in Scotland as his main residence. 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.