Should we be naming a library after this man?

Controversy over former peer’s tax-exile history


Leeds Uni’s plush new Laidlaw Library is set to open its doors this spring.

The £9m project was named in honour of its financier, Scottish businessman and former Tory peer Irvine Laidlaw.

This is a move that does not sit comfortably with everyone though.

Irvine Laidlaw was a significant contributor to the Conservative Party, and was made a life peer in June 2004.

He is known to have contributed a great deal to charity, including two million pounds to The Princes Trust, as well as the huge £9m funding for our uni’s new library.

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However, in 2007 he was criticised by the Chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission for his status as a tax exile in Monaco.

He had reportedly given assurances to the Commission that he would become a UK tax resident by April 2004, which according to then chair Dennis Stevenson, were not met.

The conference and training company tycoon eventually took a leave of absence from the House of Lords, before stepping down permanently in 2010.

In 2008 Lord Laidlaw was accused of hosting cocaine-fuelled orgies with £3,000-a-night prostitutes, whom he he was said to have flown in to his Monaco home.

The multi-millionaire, once believed to have been the second wealthiest man in Scotland, underwent treatment for sex addiction in South Africa that same year.

Some at Leeds have expressed disappointment in the decision to name the library after the University donor.

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Geology second-year John Salisbury said: “I just think it’s a shame, there are so many Leeds alumni who have achieved so much, yet for the university money talks, dodging tax and acting like a cunt don’t seem to make any difference.

“I guess it’s fitting for the times; getting a degree seems to be more about money than making a difference now.”

Leeds Labour Students told The Tab: “It is wrong to honour someone who has gone out of the way to avoid paying tax when so many people who are connected to the University of Leeds manage to pay tax and maintain a positive relationship with the University.

“For us it is not about party allegiance but personal behaviour.”

Leeds University Union’s Conservative Future society declined to comment, but the university website states that the library was named after Lord Laidlaw “in recognition of his support”.