Paul Lashmar, investigative journalist, turns the spotlight upon Richard Drax

An attentive Zoom audience recently heard Guardian and Observer investigative journalist Paul Lashmar share information he had uncovered about the wealth of South Dorset MP Richard Drax, described as the richest landowning MP in the House of Commons.

The audience included members of the South Dorset Constituency Labour Party, Dorset Stand up to Racism, local councillors and Clive Stafford-Smith, founder of Reprieve.

Swanage and Rural Purbeck Labour Party chair, Chris Bradey, introduced Paul to the audience.

Our speaker

Paul was one of the team behind recent front-page articles about our MP Richard Drax’s ancestral fortune being originally derived from Slavery. (1)

Paul is now an academic, head of the Department of Journalism at City University of London. He is also the author of four well received books: “Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, 1948 – 1977” (1998), “Spy Flights of the Cold War” (1996), “Online Journalism” (2013) and “Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate: British Intelligence and the Media” (2020).

Paul’s website, provides a rich haul of challenging and informative posts highlighting the often-hidden aspects of British society and culture today.

Paul revealed how Richard Drax still owns the family ancestral slave plantation, Drax Hall, in Barbados. He also set out questions Richard Drax must address about the accuracy of his entries in the House of Commons Members’ Register of Interests.

A campaign is currently underway in both Barbados and Dorset urging our MP to make restitution and reparation to the people of Barbados. (2)

The wall

Paul lives in Dorchester and had often driven past the long wall which encloses Charborough Park, built originally by his ancestor, John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Drax.

This wall, he said, which is three miles long, inspired him to ask questions about the MP whose estate it hides, Richard Grosvenor Plunkett Ernle Erle Drax.

Detective work

Unearthing information about the extent of the South Dorset MP’s assets required months of work, some, indeed, on the ground in Barbados, according to Paul.

We heard of a plethora of companies and names, of leads being followed up and confirmed through patient study.

We heard, too, of the details of the major concerns voiced by Paul related to Richard Drax’s entries in the MPs’ Register of Interests.

Looking beyond privilege

Richard Drax was photographed sharing an ice cream with Jacob Rees-Mogg in Weymouth during the 2019 General Election. Both MPs, who come from privileged and fortunate backgrounds, represent constituencies beset by issues of poverty and health inequalities.

Both, surely, must look beyond the bounds of their country residences, Gournay Court in the case of Mr Rees-Mogg, Charborough Park in the case of Mr Drax, to address the real concerns of so many of their constituents who live pinched and deprived lives.



(2) Stand Up to Racism Dorset – address by Sir Hilary Beckles, vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies