The Conduct of the Earl of Caithness - Privileges Committee Contents


Annex A: Letter from Niven Sinclair to Brendan Keith, Registrar of Lords' Interests, 14 April 2010

The Earl of Caithness

You may recall that I wrote to you on 6th March drawing your attention the apparent connivance of Lord Caithness in a purchase which was aimed at the avoidance of Capital Gains Tax which I considered fell within the seven principles which are set out in the Code of Conduct expected from members of the House of Lords.

Your reply of the 16th March intimated that my complaint fell outside that Code of Conduct and, in consequence, the relevant Sub-Committee on Lord's Interests and Conduct had no jurisdiction to receive my complaint. As my complaint was clearly in the public interest, I found your decision to be surprising but, perhaps, the following information and attachments will fall within the Code of Conduct for which your sub-Committee is responsible for monitoring:

"Relevant financial interests

12. The following financial interests are always relevant and therefore must be registered:

(a) any consultancy agreement under which Members of the House provide parliamentary advice or services. A copy of any such agreement, and the remuneration received by Members for advice in relation to parliamentary matters, must be deposited with the Registrar of Lords' Interests, so that details are available for public inspection.

(b) employment or any other financial interest in businesses involved in parliamentary lobbying on behalf of clients, including public relations and law firms but Members of the House involved with organisations that offer commercial lobbying services are not obliged to refrain from participating in parliamentary business in connection with all clients of that organisation but only their personal clients;

(c) any remunerated service which Members of the House provide by virtue of their position as members of Parliament, and the clients of any such service.

(d) employment as a non-parliamentary consultant;

(e) remunerated directorships;

(f) regular remunerated employment (excluding occasional income from speeches, lecturing, broadcasting and journalism);

(g) shareholdings amounting to a controlling interest;

(h) provision by an outside body of secretarial and research assistance;

(i) visits with costs paid in the United Kingdom and overseas, made as a Member of Parliament, except any visits paid for from public funds" (http://www.publications.parliament.uklpa/ld/ldcond/ldcond.htm)

It now appears that Lord Caithness has been hired to conduct luxury 'castle tours' of the United Kingdom and of Parliament.

http://rcrusoe.com/jomneyCastleHoppingScotlandHosted.aspx?refPage=c7

Part of the 'castle tours' includes the following itinerary items:

"Meet the 20th Earl of Caithness, Malcolm Ian Sinclair: Member of Parliament, Chief of Clan Sinclair, founder of the Clan Sinclair Trust, and overseer of the restoration of an incredible ancestral castle on the north Scottish coast.

The R Crusoe and Son sales pitch advises us to:

"Come along with Lord Caithness to meet his colleagues, cousins, and friends in Scotland--- people who play a significant role in the running of today's British Government as well as in the preservation of Scottish history.

"We gather in London, England for a private tour of Parliament with Lord Caithness, who introduces us to several colleagues over lunch. The Lord Speaker, Lady Hayman, or the Leader of the Conservative Party, Lord Strathclyde, joins us for a chat.

"Then we're off to Scotland. Edinburgh, first, for a visit to the Scottish Parliament accompanied by the Member* who represents Caithness and Sutherland, Lord Caithness's ancestral turf. From our home base at The Balmoral Hotel, we day-trip outside the city limits to Hopetoun House, where—after a tour of their home—we take lunch with Lord and Lady Hopetoun..."

  • Departures: 15 May 2010
  • Prices: Per person sharing room from $10,980
  • Internal air per person $260

The member who represents Caithness and Sutherland (and Easter Ross) is Viscount Thurso who was also a Member of the House of Lords until he stood for Parliament and is now known as John Thurso, M.P. He was also involved in the evasion of Capital Gains Tax as he, too, is a Trustee of the Clan Sinclair Charitable Trust which is under investigation by the OSCR (Organisation of Scottish Charity Regulators).

It is clear from the foregoing that the Earl of Caithness is being employed by R. Crusoe solely because he is a member of the House of Lords and that he, Malcolm Caithness, is using that position to show his clients around the Houses of Parliament and to introduce them to such people as Lady Hayman and Lord Strathclyde.

Last year Lord Caithness made claims on the public purse which came to £64,924. See attachment. Now he is aiming to add to that sum by showing well-heeled clients around the House of Lords privately and to give them lunch there. It is interesting to note from the Lords' Hansard text for the 14th December, 2009 that Lord Caithness's principal contribution to the debate was on the subject of expenses for (a) travelling and (b) for accommodation in London. See attachment. Until comparatively recently, his only accommodation was in London at ❨❨❨❨❨❨which is less than 15 minutes from Westminster.

Finally, by any criterion (whether written or otherwise) Lord Caithness's arrangement with R. Crusoe & Son is a clear abuse of his privileged position.

I trust action will now be taken to stop this further erosion of the parliamentary Code of Conduct for which your sub-Committee is responsible and which has become the subject of much public debate and concern in recent months.

Appendices:   T. Crusoe's castle-hopping (and parliamentary) tour with Lord Caithness.

Hansard text for 14th December, 2009 with Lord Caithness's
contribution highlighted (Submitted but not printed).

  The Lords of Excess (Submitted but not printed)

The Seven Principles of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords (Submitted but not printed).

OSCR letter confirming that the Trustees of the Clan Sinclair Charitable Trust have not acted in the best interests of the charity (Submitted but not printed).

Appendix
Castle-Hopping through Northern
Scotland. Hosted by the Earl of Caithness.
11 Days.

Meet the 20th Earl of Caithness, Malcolm Ian Sinclair: Member of Parliament, Chief of Clan Sinclair, founder of the Clan Sinclair Trust, and overseer of the restoration of an incredible ancestral castle on the north Scottish coast.


The man does have a full plate.

Not too full, however, to host a journey for R. Crusoe &Son. Come along with Lord Caithness to meet his colleagues, cousins, and friends in Scotland—people who play a significant role in the running of today’s British of government as well as in the preservation of Scottish history. There are ancient tales to hear, castles to see, people to meet....

We gather in London, England for a private tour of Parliament with Lord Caithness, who introduces us to several colleagues over lunch. The Lord Speaker, Lady Hayman, or the Leader of the Conservative Party, Lord Strathclyde, joins us for a chat.

One simply cannot miss the recently renovated Churchill Museum and War Rooms. We take a private, before-hours tour in the company of the museum’s senior curator.

On a specially arranged private visit, step inside the U.S. Embassy for a discussion of current British-American relations with embassy staffers.

While you’re in town, consider taking in a play inLondon’s legendary West End. We can help you secure tickets.

Then we’re off to Scotland. Edinburgh, first, for a visit to the Scottish Parliament accompanied by the Member who represents Caithness and Sutherland, Lord Caithness’s ancestral turf. From our home base at The Balmoral Hotel, Land travel Air travel we day-trip outside the city limits to Hopetoun House, where—after a tour of their home—we take lunch with Lord and Lady Hopetoun.

Then north to Perth, where Scone Palace has long played an important role in Scottish history. Scottish kings came here for their coronations, seated upon the Stone of Scone (now on display in Edinburgh Castle). During our visit, we take morning coffee with Lady Stormont, daughter-in-law of the present Earl and overseer of the residence.

Blair Castle, next, home of the dukes of Atholl. Once again, history runs deep at Blair. Hear stories of the castle's families, the Stewarts and the Murrays, whose 19 generations have just about done it all. At the end of our tour, sit down to lunch at the castle.

On to Inverness, capital of the Scottish Highlands. Nearby, on the very site of the Battle of Culloden, hear the story of the decisive showdown in 1746 between the Jacobites and the royalists.

Cawdor Castle was built as the private fortress of the Thanes of Cawdor (consider rereading Macbeth). A massive exterior belies the cozy rooms of this 600-year-old beauty. We hope to spend time with the Countess of Cawdor, while we're here.

No visit to the Highlands is complete without a lesson on uisgebeatha, the "water of life," Scotch whisky. Have a taste, and see how it's made, at Glenmorangie Distillery.

Ackergill Tower is our 15th-century home-away-from-home for the remainder of the journey. Have dinner here with Lord Caithness's cousin, the Viscount Thurso, and his wife. The Viscount, a Member of Parliament, is the driving force behind northern Scotland's push for renewable energy.

Tour Dunbeath Castle, one of Clan Sinclair's ancestral homes with a story that stretches back to the early1400s. See Neolithic remains that dot the Caithness countryside. Sit down to lunch with Jonathon Clark, the senior archaeologist overseeing the restoration of Castle Sinclair Girginoe, Clan Sinclair Trust's most important project.

Contrast the life of the farmer with that of Scottish royalty on a visit to a croft cottage and then to Castle Mey, ancient seat of the Sinclairs of Mey and, more recently, beloved home of the Queen Mother.

Finally, to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, where Lord Caithness spends much of his time directly involved in the rescue of this castle complex from the ravages of time. Accompanied by Lord Caithness and Jonathon Clark, we take in views of the castle from a boat on Bay Sinclair, then tour the site itself. During our examination of the site, we hear about the archaeological discoveries already made as well as the preservation work currently being carried out.

Join Lord Caithness for a formal farewell dinner at Ackergill Tower. Don't bother packing your tux—the hotel supplies our kilts and sashes.


Post-Tour Possibilities in Scotland

Not quite done with Scotland yet? Who could blame you. We suggest that, following this once-in-a-lifetime tour, you continue on in one of two directions.

Love to golf? If so, play some of the world's finest courses. Gleneagles. Aberlady. St. Andrews. If one golfs, and other doesn't, don't despair. If touring is your thing, there is plenty to do and see in the local countryside.

Another possibility is a few utterly indulgent days aboard The Royal Scotsman, a 35-passenger Orient-Express train that winds through the Highlands. The onboard luxury is Edwardian through and through. We offer a two-night and a five-night departure, both leaving Edinburgh on Wednesday, 26 May 2010. All aboard!

To request a detailed itinerary for this journey (and others), click here.

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