Tiny Rowland

Last updated

Tiny Rowland
TinyRowland.jpg
Born
Roland Walter Fuhrhop

(1917-11-27)27 November 1917
Died25 July 1998(1998-07-25) (aged 80)
London, England
Education Churcher's College
OccupationBusinessman
Known for Corporate raiding
Spouse
Josie Taylor
(m. 1968)
Children4
Relatives Plum Sykes (daughter-in-law)

Roland Walter "Tiny" Rowland (  Fuhrhop; 27 November 1917 – 25 July 1998) was a British businessman, corporate raider and the chief executive of the Lonrho conglomerate from 1962 to 1993. He gained fame from a number of high-profile takeover bids, in particular his attempt to take control of Harrods. He was known for his complex business interests in Africa and his closeness to a number of African leaders.

Contents

Early life

He was born Roland Walter Fuhrhop on 27 November 1917 during World War I in a British internment camp for aliens outside Calcutta, India. His mother was Anglo-Dutch and his father, Wilhelm Fuhrhop, was a German export-import trader in Calcutta.[ citation needed ] Having been born in British India, he was automatically a British subject, by the principle of jus soli . However, his parents remained "enemy aliens" for the duration of the First World War, and after the war, the Fuhrhops were refused entry into the United Kingdom. They settled in Hamburg, Germany.[ citation needed ]

He was said to have been nicknamed "Tiny" by his nanny because he was a large child. In the 1930s, he was briefly involved with the Hitler Youth, but his father was firmly opposed to Hitler and moved his family to Britain in 1937 to escape National Socialist Germany. [1]

He was sent to England, where he attended Churcher's College in Hampshire and acquired an upper-class British accent and mannerisms. His family settled in England in 1937. [2] [3]

He then worked for his uncle's shipping business in the City of London. He took his uncle's surname, Rowland, shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War. [4] He was conscripted into the British Army, where he served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. As enemy aliens, his parents were interned on the Isle of Man, where his mother died. He himself was interned as an enemy alien after trying to arrange for the release of his father. [1]

Lonrho

In 1948, Rowland moved to Southern Rhodesia, where he subsequently managed a tobacco farm at Eiffel Flats, Mashonaland West province. From 1952 to 1963, he lived with Irene Smith, the wife of a business partner. [5]

Rowland was recruited to the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company, later Lonrho, as chief executive in 1962. Under his leadership, the firm expanded beyond mining and became a conglomerate, dealing in newspapers, hotels, distribution, textiles and many other lines of business.

During 1973, Rowland's position was the subject of a High Court case in which eight Lonrho directors sought Rowland's dismissal, due to both his temperament and to claims he had concealed financial information from the board. [6] Rowland failed in his legal attempt to block the move [7] but was subsequently backed by shareholders and retained his position. [8] British Prime Minister Edward Heath, referring to the case, criticised the company in the House of Commons and described events there as "the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism". [9]

In 1983, Rowland took over The Observer newspaper and became its chairman. He also campaigned to gain control of Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, but he was defeated by Egyptian-born Mohamed Al-Fayed. [10] Rowland described his relationship with the Fayed family in his book A Hero from Zero. [11] He started with the following words:

In Spring 1985, the three Fayed brothers acquired House of Fraser. They did so despite detailed allegations by Lonrho as to their unsavoury character and the fabrications as to their origins and wealth which they had invented to present themselves in a falsely favourable light.

The rest of the book set out to justify these statements.

A December 1993 Financial Times article revealed that Hemar Enterprises, makers of documentary film The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie , was owned by Metropole Hotels, controlled by Rowland. The film stated that Libya had no responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Shortly after the indictment of Libya in the Pan Am Flight 103 incident, Rowland sold a percentage of his interests to the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company (Lafico), controlled by the government of Libya. For this reason, Susan and Daniel Cohen, parents of Pan Am Flight 103 victim Theodora Cohen, claimed that Libya had backed the film. [12]

In a boardroom coup engineered by German tycoon Dieter Bock in October 1993, Rowland was forced to step down as chairman of Lonrho. He was succeeded by former diplomat Sir John Leahy. In March 1995, he was dismissed by the board. [13] The Cohens' conjecture regarding Rowland's association with Muammar al-Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, and the film The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie contributed to the decision to dismiss Rowland. [14]

In 1996, President Nelson Mandela awarded Rowland the Order of Good Hope, the highest South African honour. [1] Rowland died from cancer in London on 25 July 1998.

Personal life and death

Rowland met Josie Taylor in 1965 and married her in 1968. [15] They remained married until Rowland's death in 1998. [16] They had 4 children, including Toby Rowland, who would eventually co-create the video game company King in 2003. [17] Toby married the fashion writer Plum Sykes in 2005.

Rowland is prominently featured in the second part of the documentary The Mayfair Set by Adam Curtis, where he is profiled as a ruthless businessman, jetting through Africa to take over British companies in former colonies.[ citation needed ]

He was also said to have served as the model for the fictitious ruthless British businessman Sir Edward Matheson played by Stewart Granger in the 1978 film The Wild Geese .[ citation needed ]

The satirical magazine Private Eye frequently referred to him as "tiny but perfect", not because of any shortness in stature, but because he was always impeccably groomed.[ citation needed ]

In Australia, a champion racehorse, Lonhro, was named after him (with an intentional misspelling). As a foal, the horse was described as "tiny but perfect".[ citation needed ]

Rowland is portrayed by Sam Neill in the Australian TV miniseries House of Bond (2017).

See also

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mohamed Al-Fayed</span> Egyptian businessman (1929–2023)

Mohamed Al-Fayed was an Egyptian businessman whose residence and chief business interests were in the United Kingdom from the mid-1960s. His business interests included ownership of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, and Harrods department store and Fulham Football Club, both in London. At the time of his death in 2023, Fayed's wealth was estimated at US$2 billion.

Lonmin plc, formerly Lonrho plc, was a British producer of platinum group metals operating in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Its registered office was in London, and its operational headquarters were in Johannesburg, South Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abdelbaset al-Megrahi</span> Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing (1952–2012)

Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi was a Libyan who was head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines, director of the Centre for Strategic Studies in Tripoli, Libya, and an alleged Libyan intelligence officer. On 31 January 2001, Megrahi was convicted, by a panel of three Scottish judges sitting in a special court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, of 270 counts of murder for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. His co-accused, Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, was found not guilty and was acquitted.

The Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial began on 3 May 2000, more than 11 years after the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988. The 36-week bench trial took place at a specially convened Scottish Court in the Netherlands set up under Scots law and held at a disused United States Air Force base called Camp Zeist near Utrecht.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pan Am Flight 103 bombing investigation</span>

The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 began at 19:03 on December 21, 1988 when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. The perpetrators had intended the plane to crash into the sea, destroying any traceable evidence, but the late departure time of the aircraft meant that its explosion over land left a veritable trail of evidence. The investigation led to the prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pan Am Flight 103 conspiracy theories</span> Speculation on the 1988 bombing

Pan Am Flight 103 conspiracy theories suggest a number of possible explanations for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988. Some of the theories preceded the official investigation by Scottish police and the FBI; others arose from different interpretation of evidence presented at Libyan agent Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's 2000–2001 trial; yet others have been developed independently by individuals and organisations outside the official investigation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edwin Bollier</span>

Edwin Bollier and his partner, Erwin Meister, founded Mebo Telecommunications AG in Zürich, Switzerland in 1969.

Herbert Swire, known better as Jim Swire, is an English doctor best known for his involvement in the aftermath of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, in which his daughter Flora was killed. Swire lobbied toward a solution for the difficulties in bringing suspects in the original bombing to trial, and later advocated the retrial and release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the originally convicted suspect in the case.

The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie is a documentary film about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Allan James Francovich was an American film maker. He is best known for creating a number of films critical of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), linking them to terrorist attacks during the Cold War in Africa, South America and Europe. The most notable of these are the Gladio (1992) series about Operation Gladio which featured on BBC's Timewatch and The Maltese Double Cross – Lockerbie (1994) about Pan Am Flight 103.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tony Gauci</span>

Tony Gauci was the proprietor of Mary's House, a clothes shop in Sliema, Malta, who was a witness in the prosecution of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in relation to the Lockerbie Bombing.

Abdul Majid Giaka is an alleged double agent who defected from Jamahiriya el-Mukhabarat and became a CIA asset in August 1988.

Mohammed Abu Talb is an Egyptian-born militant who was convicted on 21 December 1989 of a series of bombings in Copenhagen and Amsterdam in 1985, and was sentenced to life imprisonment in Sweden. He has also been investigated in connection with the 21 December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pan Am Flight 103</span> Transatlantic flight terrorist bombed in 1988

Pan Am Flight 103 (PA103/PAA103) was a regularly scheduled Pan Am transatlantic flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via a stopover in London and another in New York City. The transatlantic leg of the route was operated by Clipper Maid of the Seas, a Boeing 747 registered N739PA. Shortly after 19:00 on 21 December 1988, while the aircraft was in flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, it was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew in what became known as the Lockerbie bombing. Large sections of the aircraft crashed in a residential street in Lockerbie, killing 11 residents. With a total of 270 fatalities, it was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United Kingdom at the time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daniel Cohen (children's writer)</span> American non-fiction writer

Daniel Edward Cohen was an American non-fiction author who wrote over one hundred books on a variety of subjects, mainly for young audiences. He also fought for justice for the death of his daughter and the other 269 victims of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

<i>The Mayfair Set</i> British TV series or programme

The Mayfair Set, subtitled Four Stories about the Rise of Business and the Decline of Political Power, is a BBC television documentary series by filmmaker Adam Curtis. It explores the decline of Britain as a world power, the proliferation of asset stripping in the 1970s, and how buccaneer capitalists helped to shape the climate of the Thatcher years, by focusing on Colonel David Stirling, Jim Slater, Sir James Goldsmith and Tiny Rowland—members of London's elite Clermont Club in the 1960s. It won a BAFTA Award for Best Factual Series or Strand in 2000.

Lester Knox Coleman III was an American who was the co-author of the 1993 book Trail of the Octopus: From Beirut to Lockerbie – Inside the DIA, in which he claimed that a secret drug sting enabled terrorists to evade airport security in the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan American World Airways Flight 103. Coleman claimed he was at one point employed by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Coleman further alleged that a compromised American covert drug-operation allowed Iranian-backed terrorists – the PFLP-GC, led by Ahmed Jibril – to slip a Semtex bomb aboard the plane. On September 11, 1997, Coleman stated to a New York Federal court that "...he lied when he claimed that a secret drug sting enabled terrorists to evade airport security in the bombing..." In a plea agreement, Coleman was sentenced to time served, which was five months, and six months' home confinement under electronic monitoring. Conspiracy theories alleging that the federal convictions of Lester Coleman were an effort to silence him and to hide the truth about Pan Am Flight 103 circulated around the internet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hans Köchler's Lockerbie trial observer mission</span>

Hans Köchler's Lockerbie trial observer mission stemmed from the dispute between the United Kingdom, the United States, and Libya concerning arrangements for the trial of two Libyans accused of causing the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi</span>

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted on 31 January 2001 by a special Scottish Court in the Netherlands for the bomb attack on Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988 over Lockerbie. After he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, he was released from prison on compassionate grounds on 20 August 2009, having served 8½ years of a life sentence. His release was authorised by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. The decision attracted significant news coverage, engendering widespread celebration in Libya, a largely hostile reaction in the United States and a more equally divided reaction in Britain.

Mukhabarat el-Jamahiriya was the national intelligence service of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi. During the First Libyan Civil War, agency director Abuzed Omar Dorda was captured by anti-Gaddafi forces, the agency ceased to exist when the Jamahiriya was toppled in August 2011.

References

  1. 1 2 3 "Tiny in name, not in nature". BBC Online. 26 July 1998.
  2. "Nick Davies — Tiny Rowland – portrait of the bastard as a rebel". www.nickdavies.net. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  3. Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Britain – Biographies. Helicon Publishing. March 2005.
  4. "No. 34718". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 October 1939. p. 7230.
  5. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  6. Andrew Goodrick-Clarke (9 May 1973). "Lonrho chief deceived board and concealed information, court told". The Times.
  7. Andrew Goodrick-Clarke (15 May 1973). "Lonrho chief fails in court, but shareholders will decide his future". The Times.
  8. Andrew Wilson (1 June 1973). "Huge Lonrho vote gives Mr Rowland sweeping victory and eight opponents are dismissed". The Times.
  9. "Mr Heath calls Lonrho affair 'the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism'". The Times. 15 May 1973.
  10. Kim Sengupta (14 August 2002). "Police were right to suspect Fayed of theft, rules judge". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 May 2010.
  11. R. W. Rowland (1998). A Hero from Zero. Greenaway Harrison, London.
  12. Cohen, Susan and Daniel. "Chapter 16." Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice. New American Library. 2000. pp. 230–229
  13. William Kay (3 March 1995). "He just could not go quietly" . The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022.
  14. Cohen, Susan and Daniel. "Chapter 16." Pan Am 103: The Bombing, the Betrayals, and a Bereaved Family's Search for Justice. New American Library. 2000. p. 235
  15. "Captain Moonlight's Notebook: Mrs Tiny Rowland breaks her silence". The Independent. 29 May 1993. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  16. "Tiny Rowland's widow loses river privacy". the Guardian. 20 December 2003. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  17. "Who are the Candy Crush millionaires?". the Guardian. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2022.