Irvine Laidlaw

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Irvine Alan Stewart Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw (born 1943 in Keith, Banffshire) is a former member of the House of Lords. The Scotsman described him in 2003 as a 'Monaco-based business services tycoon who almost single-handedly bankrolls the Scottish Conservative Party',[1] His company Institute for International Research Ltd. was set up in 1973. It subsequently changed its name to IIR. Dispatches reported in 2008 that Laidlaw was David Cameron's largest donor.[2]. According to the Scotsman, Laidlaw had withdrawn much of his support for the Conservative Party prior to his withdrawal from the House of Lords in July 2010.[3]

The Sunday Times Rich List for 2005 stated that Laidlaw was Scotland's 6th richest man, with an estimated wealth of £498 million. Laidlaw was made a life peer as Baron Laidlaw, of Rothiemay in Banffshire in June 2004.

Business background

Laidlaw founded the company Institute for International Research in 1973, which he sold in 2005 for a sum believed to be around £775M. At one point he was one of the largest financial backers of the UK's Conservative Party. According to a biography on the Wall Street Global site:

Mr. Laidlaw founded the Institute for International Research Ltd. (IIR), the world's largest conference company with 4,000 employees and operations in 35 countries. They create and run thousands of conferences every year, including many large-scale association type events. IIR is also one of the world leaders in the provision of corporate training, with particular emphasis on IT, telecoms, project management, sales and financial skills training. They are heavily involved in e-learning, with all divisions offering their training through Internet models. IIR has divisions in trade exhibitions, running major trade shows in the US, UK, Middle and Far East. They also have B2B publishing interests in the UK and USA. Previous to founding IIR in 1974, Mr. Laidlaw worked for Doubleday in both New York and London. He has lived in the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, The Netherlands, France and the UK. Mr. Laidlaw has extensive experience in international operations, and particularly in international direct marketing. He has degrees from Leeds University, England and an M.B.A. from Columbia University, New York.

Laidlaw is on the Advisory board of Wall Street Global which researches and tracks offshore funds for investors. [1]

Funding corporate-friendly education

Through his Laidlaw Youth Project Laidlaw has been exploring funding pro-corporate activities in Scottish Education. He wanted to fund a Scottish version of a City Acadamy school but the then Labour-led administration blocked plans for this type of school in Scotland. Instead around £1 million of his personal fortune was ploughed into such a school in England. Sunday Herald

Pastimes of the rich

Laidlaw has won the Key West Regatta in Florida twice using his Swan 60 cruiser-racer, Highland Fling. He began a voyage around the world in his yacht, the Lady Christine, in 2003.

Laidlaw regularly competes in historic car racing around the world with his Porsche 904GTS, Porsche 904/6, Maserati 250S & Maserati 6CM.

Laidlaw Youth Project

He set up the Laidlaw Youth Project

Broken promise

Dispatches reported in 2008 that Laidlaw promised to become a UK taxpayer in return for his peerage, a promise he then broke. He continues to live in Monaco and is estimated to save a whopping £50 million in tax by doing so.[4].

Lord Laidlaw withdrew from the House of Lords on 6 July 2010, following the introduction of new rules preventing people with non-domiciled tax-status from sitting as peers. According to the Scotsman he had already withdrawn much of his support for the Conservatives.[5]



  1. Andrew Denholm 'What else shall I do with my money?', The Scotsman, 19 November 2003.
  2. Dispatches 'Cameron's Money Men' Channel 4 Production. 29th September 2008
  3. David Maddox, Lord Laidlaw quits to avoid paying full tax, 7 July 2010.
  4. Dispatches 'Cameron's Money Men' Channel 4 Production. 29th September 2008
  5. David Maddox, Lord Laidlaw quits to avoid paying full tax, 7 July 2010.
  6. House of Lords Register of Lords' Interests, LAIDLAW, Lord, accessed January 2007