Mone peerage ‘ludicrous’, says Scots businessman

Michelle Mone (image via Twitter)
Michelle Mone (image via Twitter)

A leading Scottish businessman has led the calls denouncing Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to make Glasgow businesswoman Michelle Mone a peer.

Douglas Anderson, of major tool and plant hire company the Gap Group, branded the decision “ludicrous” and “bad for the country”.

Glasgow-born Ms Mone, who has been beset with a litany of controversies ranging from allegations of tax avoidance, airbrushing her own Wikipedia page, stirring-up animosity during last year’s independence referendum as well as exaggerating her own wealth and business credentials, said she was “honoured and humbled” after Downing Street this week confirmed that she was to be one of 45 new members of the House of Lords.

It is the second form of recognition bestowed on the Glasgow-born entrepreneur by No 10 following her naming as a government adviser – or so-called business czar.

Government officials described Ms Mone, who co-founded lingerie brand Ultimo with her ex-husband, as “one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs (who) sits on the Board of Directors for The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust”.

It added that she “plays an active role in mentoring programmes, with a particular emphasis on encouraging entrepreneurship in the young”.

Ms Mone tweeted: “I promise to work V hard for our country. This one is for you Mum and Dad.” She followed her message with the hashtag #LadyM.

However, Douglas Anderson, who is joint managing director of Glasgow-based Gap along with his and brother, Iain, said that he was “disappointed” to hear that Ms Mone had been made a peer.

Speaking in the Herald newspaper, he said: “Unfortunately the Prime Minister appears to have decided that he could not back down on this issue without losing face. That is disappointing.”

He added: “This is not good for the country, this is not good for the Union, this is not good for business and this is not good for the House of Lords.

“The only person I can think this is good for is Michelle Mone.”

Mr Anderson has described Ms Mone as “a small-time businesswoman with PR exposure far in excess of any success”.

Mr Anderson also questioned the wisdom of appointing Ms Mone to lead a review into boosting the number of business start-ups in poor areas, which has also been denounced by other business leaders who have questioned what her experience is that qualifies her for the role.

There was also controversy when it emerged her company had used a tax avoidance scheme – an employee benefit trust (EBT) – once described as ‘morally repugnant’ by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Mr Anderson added: “Business people in Scotland will think ‘here we go again’. That this London-centric government does not care what we in Scotland think. It will drive the country apart.”

John Pirrie, a partner in the private equity firm Nevis Capital backed Mr Anderson’s stance.

He said he was “flabbergasted” by the announcement, adding that he suspected that Ms Mone’s pro-Union stance in the run-up to the referendum may have contributed to the appointment.

He added: “I think there are more deserving people and people that would be a lot better at the job.

“I think it seems political, going back to her making a bit of noise during the referendum campaign, but I’ve no idea. I just think it’s ludicrous.”

Ms Mone has refused to make a comment on the opposition to her appointments.

Other Scots granted peerages were former Labour chancellor and head of the Better Together campaing against indepence, Alistair Darling, Ex-LibDem leader Sir Menzies Campbell and Sir Malcolm Bruce.

Meanwhile, Danny Alexander, the former Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, was given a knighthood, having turned down the offer of a seat in the House of Lords which he is on record as saying should be abolished.

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