Robin Renwick

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Robin William Renwick, or Lord Renwick of Clifton (born 13/12/1937) is a cross-bench peer in the British House of Lords.

Lord Renwick is well connected in corporate and military circles being an adviser to Hakluyt & Company and on the board of several corporations including those with interests in Southern Africa such as British Airways, BHP Billiton and SABMiller as well as on the board of Fluor, the corporation with nuclear interests.

Renwick is also well connected in elite policy planning groups such as RAND Europe (the European branch of the RAND Corporation), the Atlantic Partnership and the Ditchley Foundation.


This is how Robin Renwick described his career at the website of the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, in 2003:

Lord Renwick was advisor to Lord Carrington during the negotiations which ended the war in Rhodesia and political advisor to Lord Soames during the ceasefire and elections leading to the independence of Zimbabwe. He served subsequently as Ambassador to South Africa in the period leading to the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the African National Congress. He received an honorary degree from the University of the Witwatersrand for his contribution to the struggle against apartheid. He served as Ambassador to the United States from 1991-1995. Lord Renwick subsequently became Deputy Chairman of the merchant bank, Robert Fleming, and is currently Vice-Chairman, Investment Banking for JPMorgan (Europe). Both banks have played a leading role in the attraction of new investment to Southern Africa. He serves on the boards of a number of companies with important interests in Southern Africa - SABMiller, BHP Billiton, Harmony Gold and Richemont. He was appointed to the House of Lords by Prime Minister Blair in 1997.

Front organisation

Lord Robin Renwick acted as chairman of Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, which seemed to have ceased to exist in 2005. This organisation promoted itself as an independent advocacy NGO:

"The Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (ZDT) was set up in the United Kingdom in April 2000 as a non-partisan pro-democracy group to campaign for the rights of Zimbabweans to live in civic peace and freedom. It was incorporated in the United States in July 2002 as a non-profit organization after its headquarters moved from London to Washington, D.C. in September 2002. In March 2003 the District of Columbia granted the ZDT charitable 501-C3 tax-exempt status."

However, early in its existence, May 2000, the organisation was exposed as a front for business promoting their interests in Zimbabwe. Research by Observer reporters Pete Sawyer and Martin Bright reveiled there was "British cash behind bid to combat Mugabe."[1]

A prominent group of British and American politicians and businessmen - many with energy and mining interests in Zimbabwe - are behind an international organisation to fund opposition to the regime of Robert Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, whose patrons include former Tory Foreign Secretaries Malcolm Rifkind, Douglas Hurd and Geoffrey Howe has been accused of using the organisation as a cover for promoting the interests of Western multi-nationals in the troubled region.
(for the full story, see the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust profile.)

This exposure didn't keep the ZDT or Robin Renwick from lobbying for democracy in Zimbabwe. In January 2002 Renwick wrote a strongly worded opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph: Robert Mugabe has got away with murder for long enough"This benighted regime will start to collapse when its leading members understand that they will in due course face trial and imprisonment for the crimes they have committed.[2]

The Trust also sent a memorandum to the UK government, an advice on how to improve democracy in Zimbabwe, in May 2002.

Lobbying for dictators

While people involved in the ZDT denied it was a front organisation to defend vested financial interests (in the Observer exposure mentioned above), Renwick praised Annabel Hughes for her qualities as a professional lobbyist a few years later. The occasion was another exposure, in the Zimbabwe Times: "Human rights activist in Zimbabwe on another dictator’s payroll"

Annabel Hughes, the British human rights activist who spearheaded a fierce international campaign against President Robert Mugabe, has undertaken public relations assignments for another despot who is regarded as being more corrupt than the Zimbabwean head of state. Documents show that Hughes undertook consultancy work in 2005 to determine what needed to be done to improve Equatorial Guinea’s "position and elevate its profile in Washington D.C".
Our investigations have established that Annabel Hughes, the former executive director for the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, registered on January 21, 2005, to perform consultancy work on behalf of the Equatorial Guinea dictator, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his government. Meanwhile the main objectives for the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust were "to give hope to the people of Zimbabwe" and "to expose corruption".[3]

To her defence, Lord Renwick wrote a glowing tribute to her work on Zimbabwe for her company's website,

"She has made a major difference in raising consciousness and level of concern about the situation in Zimbabwe...She is a person of very high integrity for whom personally I have formed a very high regard. Her advocacy and lobbying skills have proved to be very outstanding."

In an article E. Guinea tyrant buys Mugabe critic The New Zimbabwe website added:

On the website, she (Hughes) uses Zimbabwe as a reference point but makes no mention of her work for Obiang, considered one of Africa's most brutal dictators. Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's third largest oil producer, is a welcome friend for Zimbabwe as it struggles with economic meltdown and isolation from Western countries which have criticised Mugabe over accusations of repression.
Mugabe's government played a key role in 2004 in breaking up an alleged coup plot directed against Obiang. Zimbabwe officials arrested some 70 South African mercenaries who had stopped in Harare as part of the alleged plot and a Zimbabwe court later sentenced the group's alleged leader Simon Mann, a former British special forces officer, to seven years in jail on weapons charges.[4]

Register of Interests


Category 1: Directorships

  • Non-executive Director, Compagnie Financiere Richemont
  • Non-executive Director, Stonehage Fleming Family and Partners
  • Non-executive Director, Excelsior Mining Corporation

Category 2: Remunerated employment, office, profession etc



Remunerated employment, office, profession etc



Remunerated directorships

Regular remunerated employment

Significant shareholdings


Former interests

According to the House of Lords' Register of Lord's Interests 2004-2005,



  1. British cash behind bid to combat Mugabe The Observer, May 21, 2000
  2. Robert Mugabe has got away with murder for long enough The Telegraph, 29 January 2002
  3. "Human rights activist in Zimbabwe on another dictator’s payroll", Zimbabwe Times,
  4. E. Guinea tyrant buys Mugabe critic New Zimbabwe, 11 December 2009
  5. Has held this since at least 2007
  6. Lord Renwick of Clifton Parliament.UK
  7. Open Europe Board, June 2016, OpenEurope, accessed 15 June 2016
  8. OpenEurope website accessed 10 August 2017