Lord Lawson accepted a donation for his climate denial charity from a millionaire financier who successfully invested in shale gas fracking, DeSmog UK can reveal.
Edgar Miller Jnr, a Texan-born venture capitalist, has been named as an early donor, fundraiser, and founder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) who claims he turned down the role of director when the charity was being established almost five years ago.
The revelations will be hugely embarrassing for Lawson. Miller intimates during an interview that his donation was dependent on the GWPF attacking climate science rather than policy, and he even suggests the former chancellor is “a little bit” scientifically illiterate.
Miller boasts of his “very successful” investment in one of the first fracking companies, and confirms that today he holds mineral rights relating to property once owned by his family that he hopes will earn him further profits from shale gas. “We’ll get some royalties out of it so we’re motivated to do it,” he said.
The investor has also paid thousands of pounds to Viscount Christopher Monckton, the eccentric aristocrat who tours Britain, Australia and the United States attacking climate science.
The cash paid for an investment report about climate science and led to Monckton publishing a lengthy attack in the Sunday Telegraph back in 2006. Monckton and Lawson, related by marriage, both became interested in climate change around the same time.
Lawson has repeatedly stated that he would not accept funding from the oil industry or any individual with “a significant interest” in fossil fuel companies—a statement that is in fact true as Miller has enjoyed a “less than significant” financial benefit from energy investments.
Lawson last month launched the GWPF to apparently circumvent charity commission rules stipulating that his GWPF must remain “educational” rather than political. Dr Benny Peiser, a social scientist, is the director of the foundation.
Miller, a professor of private equity at the Cass Business School and owner of Palladian Limited, told a reporter over dinner: “I was concerned when they [the GWPF] weren’t really addressing the underlying science and they kept putting the focus on policy…
“Most people in the UK don’t understand the science. The UK is scientifically illiterate. I’m not saying that you don’t have great scientists or engineers, but the average person that you meet walking along the street knows very little about the science.”
He added: “Initially I refused to give them anything because they were resistant to debating the science. Benny just wanted to talk about policy; I said I completely disagree with that… I’ve also brought one or two other donors in, who have probably altogether given £30,000 to £40,000.”
“I think one of Benny’s problems is he doesn’t have a fundamental grounding in science [and] that he has a fear. That’s one of the general problems in this country… most people are scientifically illiterate. Nigel is a little bit that way.”
Miller also described Lawson as having “a huge ego” adding: “his only problem is his personal life is a disaster.” But he confirmed that the former chancellor had Osborne’s ear. “These guys are all talking to each other all the time, they go to the same dinner parties, they spend weekends together and [attend] house parties together.”
He said of his fracking investments: “Fracking is nothing, and, you know, you’ve got 30 years of experience in the States with basically no problems at all. In fact, I invested in one of the companies which was one of the early frackers back in the 80s.”
“There’s a guy who just died called [George P] Mitchell, who was a Texan, who developed the technology. It was a very [a] very successful [investment]. Very successful.”
Basically a Bullshitter
Miller, who has lived in the UK for more than 40 years, was a senior advisor in the Conservative party and claims he helped draft the 2005 election manifesto. But after initially supporting Cameron’s leadership, he found the Etonian to be “weak”, with “too many close friends around him” who “change his mind”.
After lunch with the Prime Minister and chancellor, Miller's views had crystallised: “I came away thinking Cameron was basically a bullshitter [who] didn’t want to listen to anybody [and who] lacked in substance.” He added: “Osborne I thought was as arrogant…but I thought had more intellectual substance.”
When contacted by DeSmog UK last night, Miller replied: “You imply I have been a donor to the GWPF. I am proud to say this is true (albeit a small donor) and I would be pleased if you publicise this fact. I encouraged Lord Lawson in the early days of GWPF and subsequently have encouraged others to donate. I intend to continue to contribute.