Ex-spy becomes a life peer

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The Independent Online
The roll call of honour in the business community includes a former spy who has claimed yak stalking as a hobby, the chief executive of Boots, a former 5,000-metre world record holder and the man responsible for helping Triumph motorcycles back into the fast lane of British manufacturing.

Sir John Cuckney, the former MI5 agent turned businessman, becomes a life peer. Now 69, Sir John is one of Britain's most colourful business figures. He achieved celebrity status in the Eighties when he was revealed as the man who had trained Peter Wright, of Spycatcher fame.

In 1958 he gave up spying for banking and later became the first director in 100 years to resign from Lazards, the merchant bank. He was also chairman of Westland, the helicopter company, at the time of the Westland affair in 1986.

As well as spells at Royal Insurance and Midland Bank, he has more recently gained plaudits for his work helping to achieve a settlement for pensioners of the former Maxwell group. Semi-retired, but still busy, the new peer is now a director of the pharmaceuticals group Glaxo Wellcome.

Boots the Chemist has two places in the honours list: its chief executive and a sales assistant. The deputy chairman and chief executive, Sir James Blyth, is made a life peer. Sir James, 55, has been with Boots since 1987 after spells at Mars and Lucas. He earned almost pounds 900,000 at Boots last year.

A little farther down the Boots hierarchy is Yvonne Farlam, who works in the capital on the cosmetics counter of the Boots branch at London Bridge. Mrs Farlam spends much of her time helping in the community, visiting severe pain sufferers in hospital. She becomes an MBE.

Christopher Chataway, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, is made a knight bachelor. Sir Christopher ran in the epic race in 1954 in which Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile. In the same year he broke the world record at 5,000m.

Knighted for services to the aviation industry, he said yesterday: "I do hope it will be seen as a compliment to everyone at the CAA." He said he would celebrate during the weekend by watching his sons play cricket.

Also knighted are Peter Hunt, chairman of Land Securities, Michael Bett, former deputy chairman of BT, David Simon, chief executive of BP, Terence Harrison, chief executive of Rolls Royce and Richard George, chairman and managing director of Weetabix.

John Bloor, the Midlands businessman who ploughed a considerable part of his building fortune into helping Triumph Motorcycles back on to the road, is made OBE.

Nigel Cope