Malcolm Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness

Malcolm Ian Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness, PC (born 3 November 1948) is a British Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords as one of the remaining hereditary peers. He is also 20th Lord Berriedale, 15th Baronet Sinclair, of Canisbay, Co. Caithness, Nova Scotia, and chief of Clan Sinclair. He is the Chief Executive of the Clan Sinclair Trust.


Caithness was educated at Blairmore School, Aberdeenshire then Marlborough College and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.

House of Lords and other political offices

Caithness served as a House of Lords government whip under Margaret Thatcher from 1984 to 1985. He then moved to the Department of Transport as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, serving until 1986 when he became a Minister of State at the Home Office. In 1988 he was once again moved, this time to be Minister of State at the Department of Environment. In 1989, he became Paymaster-General.In 1990, Caithness was again shuffled to the Foreign Office as a Minister of State, and then in 1992 back to the Department of Transport. He married Diana Caroline Coke (1953–1994) in 1975.

In January 1994, Caithness resigned from the Government following the suicide of his wife, Diana Caroline Coke, who suffered from depression.[1] In 2004, he married Leila C. Jenkins in Rosslyn Chapel.[2] The Earl filed for divorce a year later.

With the passage of the House of Lords Act 1999, Caithness, along with most other hereditary peers, lost his automatic right to sit in the House of Lords. He was however elected as one of the 90 representative peers to remain in the House of Lords under the provisions of the act.

He was made a privy counsellor in 1990. He is an opponent of fractional-reserve banking.[3]

Caithness was a trustee of Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust since its inception in 1996 until 2016. In 1999 he helped found a heritage charity, the Clan Sinclair Trust, the aim of which is the preservation and conservation of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, near Wick in Caithness. He serves as chief executive and has been responsible for getting the castle listed by the World Monuments Fund in its Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World in 2002, the fundraising and overseeing the remedial works which has allowed the castle to be accessible and open to the public.

His children are Lady Iona Alexandra Sinclair (b. 18 Feb 1978) and Alexander James Richard Sinclair, Lord Berriedale (b. 26 Mar 1981), who was educated at St. David's College, Llandudno, Caernarvonshire, Wales.

Clan Sinclair

There are Clan Sinclair associations in the UK, Australia, Canada, Italy and the USA.

He has taken an active interest in the Sinclair Clan since 1998 and organized the first Clan Sinclair International Gathering in Caithness in 2000 and then again in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012 (in Norway) and 2015.

In 2009, Caithness, when referring to the role of Clan Chiefs, said "...I do not believe there is an obligation towards the clan in any formal sense. For many years I took no interest in the Clan because I was too busy earning a living and bringing up the family...If a chief can give the time, particularly to the Diaspora, then there are huge rewards for everyone and I would hope that most chiefs can do that."[4]



  1. (cite Evening Standard 13 January 1984, Title=Suicide: the 'black dog' that haunts our family)
  2. Ward, Louise (November 15, 2004). "Earl of Caithness marries American businesswoman". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  3. Hansard archives
  4. Chief to Chief - Malcolm Sinclair, The Earl of Caithness Jamie Sempill 07/15/2009 10:17 AM

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Brooke
Paymaster General
Succeeded by
Richard Ryder
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
James Sinclair
Earl of Caithness
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