Friday, 20 November 2009
Lord Pearson gets some media attention
Anti-EU peer given Brussels grant
An arch Eurosceptic peer who believes that European Union subsidies are a "vast swindle" is financing replanting on his huge Scottish estate with grants from Brussels.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the independent Conservative peer who was expelled from the Tories by Michael Howard for backing the rival United Kingdom Independence Party, has tabled bills in the House of Lords demanding Britain's immediate withdrawal from the European Union.
He is also co-founder of the Global Britain thinktank which agitates against an "increasingly anachronistic" EU.
Last weekend he wrote in a pamphlet published by the independent thinktank Civitas that the EU was a "corrupt octopus" and was a success "only for those who make money out of it".
The 63-year-old peer called the EU system of grants and subsidies to farmers a "whole vast swindle" and said Britons were forced to pay "higher taxes" ... "to keep EU farmers in the style to which they have become accustomed".
He added that the United Kingdom gives the EU some £11bn a year:
"Of this, they have been good enough to send back to us an average of some £7bn, always for projects which are designed to enhance their wretched image (including the Common Agricultural Policy)".
One of the projects now being funded with EU money is Sword Loch 3, a 300-acre forest on Lord Pearson's estate in Perthshire. According to the Forestry Commission, the official body responsible for protecting Britain's trees, this is one of a number of grants that it has given to Lord Pearson.
The latest £95,000 grant will be used to replant an old Caledonian pine forest, an ancient Scottish species which has been threatened with extinction.
"Half the money will come from the European Union," said a Forestry Commission spokesman.
Asked if Lord Pearson would know if it came from the EU, the spokesman said:
"He would have applied to the Forestry Commission and might not be aware of it. However our literature does make it clear that part of the money for grants does come from the European Union".
Lord Pearson did not comment when contacted by the Guardian. Details of the grant were released under the Freedom of Information Act.
For some years, Lord Pearson has claimed that the BBC is institutionally biased in favour of the European Union, a point he sought to prove by publishing a report analysing the amount of time given to pro- and anti-EU speakers.
Lord Pearson loyally stood by his old Eton schoolfriend, Jonathan Aitken, after the former Tory minister perjured himself in his libel action over his links with the Saudis.
The peer is chairman of an insurance company and a supporter of the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, serving as chairman of its deerstalking committee.
End of article. To see the original: LINK
Some would say that criticising the EU and yet accepting their grants is somewhat hypocritical.