Malcolm Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch

Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch (born 20 July 1942) is a British businessman and former Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He sits as an independent member of the House of Lords.[1]

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 78)
Devizes, Wiltshire, England
Political partyIndependent (2019–present)
Other political
UK Independence Party (2007–2019)
Conservative (until 2007)

A Eurosceptic, he has been a staunch supporter of pro-Brexit campaign Leave Means Leave.[2]

Early life and career

Born in Devizes, the son of John M. and Rosabel C. Pearson (née Moysey), Pearson was educated at Eton College.[citation needed] Prior to entering politics, he 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 Rannoch estate.[5] 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.[6]

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,[7] 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.[8][9]

Pearson became Treasurer of the degree-awarding body to the polytechnic sector, the Council for National Academic Awards, serving from 1983 to 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 Eurosceptic of long standing.[10] 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,[11] along with Lord Willoughby de Broke.[12]

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,[13] 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.

In February 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.[14] Jacqui Smith,[15] then Home Secretary, subsequently excluded Wilders from entry to the UK. In response, Pearson and Cox accused the then Government of "appeasing" militant Islam.[16] Wilders appealed successfully against his exclusion, and the film was eventually shown in the Lords in 2010.

Leader of the UK Independence Party

In September 2009, Pearson announced his candidacy in the 2009 UKIP leadership election.[17][18] 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."[19][20] 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."[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][23]


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.[24]

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.[25]

Later career

In October 2019, Pearson resigned from UKIP to sit as an independent.[26][unreliable source?]

He is also the co-founder of pro-free-trade think-tank, Global Britain,[27] 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 also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Global Panel Foundation [de], an NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world.[28]


In November 2013, Pearson was criticised by opponents 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."[29]

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?"[30]

In November 2014, Pearson suggested that the Quran had inspired the murder 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."[31]

In March 2018, Pearson invited Tommy Robinson to Parliament.[32][33][34]

Personal life

Pearson has been married three times:[citation needed]

  • firstly to Francesca Frua de Angeli in 1965, with whom he had one daughter, Silvia Lady Le Marchant (b.1966) and whom he divorced in 1970;
  • secondly to the Hon. Mary Charteris (daughter of Martin Charteris, Baron Charteris of Amisfield) in 1977, with whom he had two daughters (Marina and Zara) and whom he divorced in 1995;
  • thirdly to Caroline St Vincent Rose in 1997.


  1. "Lord Pearson of Rannoch". Lord Pearson of Rannoch. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  2. "Co-Chairmen – Political Advisory Board – Supporters". Leave Means Leave. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  3. "Pay up and play the game", Investors Chronicle, 15 December 1978 and "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. Lord Macolm Pearson wins Henry "Scoop" Jackson Award 2007 Jerusalem Summit. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  7. "No. 52189". The London Gazette. 21 June 1990. p. 10859.
  8. "God's Euro-sceptic" The Daily Telegraph, 1 February 1997
  9. Daily Telegraph letters "Don't bomb Kohl". 3 February 1997
  10. Barwick, Sandra (6 December 2000). "Euro-sceptic peer attacks BBC's 'raging Europhiles'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  11. The Times[dead link]
  12. "Conservative peers defect to UKIP". BBC News. 9 January 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  13. "Bills and Legislation – European Union (Implications of Withdrawal) Bill". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 19 June 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  14. "Dutch MP banned from entering UK". BBC News. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  15. The Guardian, "Far-right Dutch MP refused entry to UK", 12 February 2009
  16. The Daily Telegraph, "Dutch MP Geert Wilders deported after flying to Britain to show anti-Islamic film", 12 February 2009
  17. "UKIP leadership: Runners and riders", BBC News, 19 November 2009
  18. Former Tory peer favourite for Ukip leadership, The Daily Telegraph, 15 September 2009.
  19. Khan, Shoaib M (21 April 2010). "Ukip leader: "I haven't come here to discuss my manifesto"". New Statesman. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  20. "Lord Pearson on The Campaign Show". 20 April 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2017 via YouTube.
  21. "Nigel Farage: 2010 UKIP manifesto was 'drivel' – BBC News". BBC. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  22. Lord Pearson resigns as leader of UKIP, The Daily Telegraph, 17 August 2010.
  23. "Independent Thinker"[permanent dead link], Spectator, 21 August 2010.
  24. 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.
  25. Swaine, Jon (29 November 2009). "UKIP leader Lord Pearson claimed £100,000 allowances for £3.7m London home". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  26. Staff Writer (27 October 2019). "EXCLUSIVE: Former UKIP Leader Lord Pearson Resigns From Party". Politicalite UK | News For The People By The People. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  27. "Global Britain". Global Britain. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  28. "Global Panel Foundation | Meeting the World in Person". Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  29. "Ex-UKIP leader Lord Pearson warns of Islamist threat". BBC News. 20 November 2013.
  30. "Lords Hansard text for 22 July 2014 (pt 0001)". Hansard. 22 July 2014.
  31. Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent (25 November 2014). "Ex-Ukip leader condemned for Qur'an comments over Lee Rigby murder". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  32. "Peer criticised over Tommy Robinson invite". BBC News.
  33. "UKIP peer Lord Pearson invites ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson to Parliament".
  34. Tommy Robinson (15 March 2018). "Lord Pearson in Parliament "Can we talk about Islam?"" via YouTube.