Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Hesketh
Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
In office
22 May 1991 – 16 September 1993
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Lord Denham
Succeeded by Viscount Ullswater
Personal details
Born Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh
(1950-10-28) 28 October 1950 (age 68)
Political party UKIP
Other political
Conservative (until 2011)
Spouse(s) Hon Claire Watson
Religion Roman Catholic

Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh, 3rd Baron Hesketh, KBE, PC (born 28 October 1950), is a British UK Independence Party politician. He first came to notice as the owner of Hesketh Racing, a car racing team which competed at various levels between 1972 and 1978. After the team folded, he tried to set up a British motorcycle business, Hesketh Motorcycles, which failed. He has been involved not very successfully in other business ventures. In 2006, he sold the family seat, Easton Neston, at Towcester, Northamptonshire—the only surviving complete house by the English baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor—together with the estate, the furnishings of the house and family portraits.

Early life

Insignia of Baronet

Hesketh succeeded in the barony (and baronetcy) on 6 October 1955, aged four, when his father, Frederick Fermor-Hesketh, 2nd Baron Hesketh, died aged 39.[1]

He was educated at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire.[2] He went on to work for Dean Witter Inc in San Francisco before returning to manage his family's businesses.[3]


Hesketh married Hon. Claire Georgina Watson, daughter of Joseph Rupert Eric Robert Watson, 3rd Baron Manton and Mary Elizabeth Hallinan, on 21 May 1977 and has three children:[2]

  • Hon. Flora Mary Fermor-Hesketh (born 1981)
  • Hon. Sophia Christian Fermor-Hesketh (born 1984)[4]
  • Hon. Frederick Hatton Fermor-Hesketh (born 13 October 1988)

Lord Hesketh's children use the surname Hesketh day-to-day.

Political career

Hesketh automatically became a member of the House of Lords but took no active part in politics until he met Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after the Irish Republican Army's bomb attack on her in Brighton on 12 October 1984. Thatcher visited Easton Neston and in conversation, Hesketh explained that he did not occupy his seat in the House of Lords. He later explained, "Mrs Thatcher asked me if I served on a regular basis in the House, and when I told her no, she said, 'You must. It's your duty, and I expect you to be there.'"[1] From that point Hesketh worked under Thatcher, whom he described as "the most outstanding person I ever worked with"[5] and held the office of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment between 1989 and 1990 and was Minister of State in the Department of Trade and Industry between 1990 and 1991.

On 22 May of that year, he became Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms (Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords) under the next Prime Minister, John Major, a position he kept until 16 September 1993.[2] During his period in office as Chief Whip he helped secure the Local Government Finance Act 1992, which introduced council taxes, and the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993,[6] which ratified the Maastricht Treaty.

In 2003, he became Treasurer of the Conservative Party, resigning in 2006 due to his own financial difficulties, and was formerly a board member of The Conservative Party Foundation.[3]

On 10 October 2011, Lord Hesketh defected to the UK Independence Party, in response to Prime Minister David Cameron ruling out a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.[7] During the years 2011/12 Lord Hesketh donated approximately £31,000 to the UK Independence Party [8]


Known for his love of motor racing, Lord Hesketh founded Hesketh Racing in 1972, best known for competing in Formula One from 1973 to 1978. The team was famous for its flamboyant and patriotic approach to the sport and for refusing sponsorship. Between 1973 and 1975 the team had some success with the English driver James Hunt, including winning the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix. He later was president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, from 1993 to 2000.

Hesketh formed Hesketh Motorcycles plc. In 1982 a modern purpose built factory was set up to manufacture the Hesketh V1000 motorcycles in Daventry. However, there were numerous problems. The bikes were heavy, made worse by a high riding style; and unreliable, with numerous manufacturing problems adding to an overheating rear cylinder due to lack of air flow. The resultant bad press combined on top of an under-developed bike, lack of cash and a collapsing market meant that after the production of 139 bikes, the company went into receivership. The Triumph Motorcycles co-operative looked at buying the rights to the machine, as they lacked a new model beyond the aged Triumph Bonneville. A V1000 machine even appeared with a Triumph badge on its tank, but Triumph also lacked funding to buy and develop the machine. In 1983, Lord Hesketh formed a new company called Hesleydon Ltd to manufacture a revamped V1000 with a full fairing, called the Vampire. However, although the company had produced a motorcycle with export potential in mind, the Vampire retained too many of the V1000's faults and only 40 were produced before the company closed again in 1984.

In 1994 Hesketh helped set up British Mediterranean Airways, later known as BMED. He also became chairman of the new airline – a role in which he continued until early 2007, when BMED was purchased for £30 million by UK Airline BMI. He now serves as an "independent director" of Air Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan.[9]

Hesketh joined the board of Babcock International Group on 6 October 1993, becoming non-executive Deputy chairman on 26 April 1996. He was forced to resign in November 2010 after a comment regarding the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, in which he was reported as saying the project would make the country a "laughing stock".[10]


In 1997, Hesketh was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).[2] Hesketh was portrayed by British actor Christian McKay in the 2013 biographical drama Rush.


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Good Lord: A Profile of Alexander Hesketh". Retrieved 26 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "The Peerage". Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Lord Hesketh". Retrieved 11 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "CPF" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Tatler
  5. "Lord Hesketh". The Observer. 3 February 2002. Retrieved 26 October 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 Office of Public Sector Information
  7. Hough, Andrew (11 October 2011). "Lord Hesketh: former Tory party treasurer defects to Ukip 'over Europe'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Air Astana, "Board of Directors" Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  10. "Babcock's Lord Hesketh resigns amid carrier row". BBC News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Denham
Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms

Succeeded by
The Viscount Ullswater
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Denham
Conservative Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Viscount Ullswater
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Innes Ireland
President of the British Racing Drivers' Club
Succeeded by
Ken Tyrrell
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frederick Fermor-Hesketh
Baron Hesketh