Philip Harris

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Philip Charles Harris, Baron Harris of Peckham (born 15 September in Peckham South London, 1942) is founder of carpet retailer, Carpetright.

He is a major donor to the Conservative Party and Conservative member of the House of Lords and businessman.

He is a key supporter of market-based education reforms in England.

Harris is also a Brexiteer and donor to the campaign to take the UK out of the EU.

Influence on UK politics

Brexit supporter

Harris is a Brexiteer who donated £50,000 to the Vote Leave campaign.

In August 2017 Harris suggested that Brexit would be good for young people as they will be able to work longer hours in shops. He claimed retailers could currently only employ young people for 35 hours a week because of EU law. In fact, the European Working Time Directive means employees cannot be forced to work longer than 48 hours a week – and even then, they can opt-out of the restriction.

Education reformer

Harris is chair of the Harris Federation. This is a chain of 44 academy and free schools in and around London. Some of these schools, like Downhills Primary School, were forced by the government to join Harris against the wishes of the majority parents and governors.

At the moment companies can’t make a direct profit from operating schools - Harris Federation is non-profit making - but businesses can, and are, increasingly providing a lot of the services schools need. Former education secretary Michael Gove supports profit-making schools, and the government’s ambition to see all 25,000 schools in England privately run, rests on companies being able to make a return on their investment. Academy chains, like the Harris Federation, provide a structure for profit-making state schools.

CEO of Harris Federation is Sir Dan Moynihan receives a salary of £375k, making him the best paid of anyone overseeing schools in the state sector, by a long way.[1]

The 'philosophy' of the Harris Federation of schools has been summed up as: 'Good leaders + discipline + uniform = A*.'

Conservative donor

Harris is a major donor to the Conservative Party. As such, he is a member of The Leader's Group, the premier Conservative Party supporter group. Through an annual membership fee of £50,000 donors are able to secure access to leading members of the party. David Cameron called Harris a 'great friend'.

Harris made donations to David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party. He is said to have played a role in convincing Cameron to contest the party's leadership in the summer of 2005. His ties to Cameron came under scrutiny two years later when it appeared that Andrew Feldman, a political associate of his and a fellow donor to Cameron's leadership campaign, used Harris's name to claim privileges accorded to active members of the House of Lords (which Harris, his peerage notwithstanding, had never been.) A report in The Independent newspaper quoted a senior member of the Lords Privileges Committee as suggesting the allegation shows how fundraising "pollutes our politics". Source

Harris also gave a substantial donation of £120,000 in January 2006 to George Osborne MP.

Harris was made a life peer in 1996 under John Major, and became Baron Harris of Peckham, of Peckham in the London Borough of Southwark.

Political donations

Recorded by the Electoral Commission:[2]

Date Name of donor Amount Donated to Subsidiary (parties only)
21/04/2004 Lord Philip Harris of Peckham £15,000.00 Conservative Party Central Party
01/08/2005 Lord Philip Harris £90,000.00 The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
27/02/2006 Lord Philip C. Harris £400.00 Conservative Party Central Party
31/03/2006 Lord Philip C. Harris £9,588.13 Conservative Party Central Party
05/05/2006 Philip Lord C Harris £24,465.44 Conservative Party Central Party
29/09/2006 Lord Philip Harris £15,017.88 Conservative Party Central Party
10/11/2006 Lord Philip Harris £22,849.32 Conservative Party Central Party
31/01/2007 Lord Philip Harris £21,300.83 Conservative Party Central Party
07/11/2008 Lord Philip Harris £100,000.00 Focus on Scotland
18/12/2009 Lord Philip Harris of Peckham £250,000.00 Conservative Party Central Party
28/02/2010 Lord Philip Harris £34,551.23 Conservative Party Central Party
19/04/2010 Lord Philip Harris £2,274.20 Conservative Party Thurrock
07/01/2011 Lord Philip Harris £14,000.00 Conservative Party Central Party
25/03/2011 Philip Harris £75,000.00 No Campaign Limited
21/02/2012 Lord Philip Harris £50,000.00 Conservative Party Central Party
10/05/2012 Lord Philip Harris £37,962.01 Conservative Party Central Party

For an up-to-date list of donations by Philip Harris, search the Electoral Commission website:[3]

Business Interests

Harris ranked 206th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, with an estimated wealth of £285m. (2004 162nd £254m, 2005 192nd £250m).

Harris is the chairman of Carpetright plc. He was chairman and chief executive of Harris Carpets. Harris Carpets acquired Queensway in 1977 to become Harris Queensway plc until the company was taken over in 1988. Harris was also a non-executive director of Great Universal Stores plc for 18 years, retiring from the GUS Board in July 2004. Lord Harris became a non-executive director of Matalan in October 2004.

He was appointed to the board of Arsenal Football Club as a non-executive director in November 2005. He owns, through holding companies, 53 shares, representing 0.00085% of the company.

Register of interests

Remunerated directorships

  • Carpetright plc (and subsidiaries)
  • Harris Ventures Ltd (Investment Company)
  • Non-executive Director, Arsenal FC (effective November 2005)

Regular remunerated employment

  • Chairman and Chief Executive, Carpetright plc (and subsidiaries)
  • Chairman, Harris Ventures Ltd (Investment Company)

Controlling shareholdings

  • Harris Ventures Ltd (Investment Company)
  • HVL4 Ltd (Investment Company)

Significant shareholdings

  • Carpetright plc
  • SCI CASALA (directly related to member's holiday residence)


  • 347 acres of woodland investment, Dumfries and Galloway

Membership of public bodies

  • Chairman, Generation Trust, Guys Hospital
  • Trustee, Bacons City Technology College
  • Trustee, Harris City Technology College
  • Trustee and Governor, The Academy at Peckham
  • Trustee and Governor, The Harris Academy at Stanley
  • Trustee and Governor, The Harris Academy, Bermondsey
  • Trustee and Governor, Harris Academy Merton
  • Trustee and Governor, Harris Federation of South London Schools
  • Trustee and Governor, Harris Girls' Academy East Dulwich
  • Trustee and Governor, Harris Boys' Academy East Dulwich

Office-holder in voluntary organisations

  • Chairman, Prostate Cancer "Investing In Life" Campaign
  • Deputy Chairman, NSPCC National Appeal Board and Executive Committee
  • President of Friends of Guys Hospital

Source, accessed August 2007.



  1. Academy boss earns more than chief executive of NHS England, Guardian, 10 February 2015
  2. Electoral Commission Search: 'Philip Harris', accessed 7 May 2015.
  3. Donor Search, Electoral Commission, accessed 25 May 2016
  4. 'Furniture Industry APPG',, accessed 11 November 2015