Sir Paul Newall: Stockbroker and Lord Mayor of London praised for fostering good relations with the Gulf Arab states

A stylish City figure with a lively sense of humour, Newall had a certain gravitas without pomposity

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Such was the energy and scope of his year in office, tempus fugit could have been the motto of Sir Paul Newall when he became the 666th Lord Mayor of London, in 1993. With a global theme – “The world is our market” – Newall began a whirlwind tour, visiting Europe, the Gulf, the Far East and the US. In America alone he visited 15 cities in 21 days. “That's a lot of one-night stands,” he joked after delivering 30 speeches and writing more than 60 thank-you notes. His attention to detail helped Newall, a positive and enthusiastic man, press home his underlying message (in more than 600 speeches) that the City was “the most influential Square Mile in the world”, and that London was “the stepping stone to Europe”. 

A stylish City figure with a lively sense of humour, Newall had a certain gravitas without pomposity. Combining that with a shrewd mastery of facts and figures, he helped foster positive relationships with the Gulf Arab states. Sheikh Jaber, the Amir of Kuwait, was particularly grateful in the wake of Iraq's invasion for Newall's role in helping to maintain strong links with the British government and the City of London. Douglas Hurd, Foreign Secretary at the time, further commended the Lord Mayor for his diplomacy and savoir faire.

Such appreciation was in sharp contrast to the refusal of John Major's government to confer an automatic knighthood on Newall's appointment as Lord Mayor. This snub – although marking a new policy of honours given solely on merit – was resented in the Square Mile ; where the refusal to knight Newall was considered by one City insider as “extremely poor recognition of the City's contribution to more than half of the UK's foreign exchange earnings”. In June 1994, Newall was duly knighted. 

Paul Henry Neuwald was born in London in September 1934. His father Leopold, a Polish immigrant who became a successful coat manufacturer, changed the family name to Newall in 1940. The young Paul was educated at Harrow and was commissioned in the Royal Fusiliers for National Service before going up to Magdalene College, Cambridge to read economics.

His career began with Cazenove & Co, the stockbrokers. Later he became an analyst, moving to the Wall Street firm of Shearson Loeb Rhoades in the late 1960s. Popular as a broker, he became a partner and from 1971 to 1977 was a member of the New York Stock Exchange. He returned to the firm's London office and was a director of Lehman Bros until 1994, continuing as a senior adviser until his retirement. He was also a non-executive director of Guardian Royal Exchange. 

Newall's civic career was formidable, beginning in 1980, when he became a member of the City's Court of Common Council, becoming Alderman for the ward of Walbrook. He was made a Sheriff in 1989, a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London and then Lord Mayor in 1993. Having risen to the rank of major in the Territorial Army, he was later made an honorary colonel of the London Regiment and chairman of the London TAVRA.

As a past Master of the Bakers' Company, Newall became the driving force behind plans to establish a new livery company that better represented the City's international banking fraternity. He accelerated the arcane process, enlisting prominent bankers, and became founding Master of the Guild of International Bankers in 2001. Full status as the Worshipful Company of International Bankers was achieved in 2007 and its annual Guildhall banquet is now one of the major speech-making occasions of the City year. 

Appointed as a Knight of the Order of St John during his mayoral year, Newall presided over their annual service of rededication at St Paul's Cathedral. Furthermore, although the main driving force of his year as Mayor was promoting business, it was not his sole preoccupation. During his Mansion House speech he particularly voiced concerns for the future of Bart's Hospital, which was threatened with closure. 

However, as a spiritual man, Newall selected St Paul's as the Lord Mayor's Charity Appeal. Citing the special significance that the huge dome of St Paul's had symbolised for more than three centuries, he continued in Churchillian tones: “raised from the ashes of the Great Fire, St Paul's miraculously withstood the Blitz bombing that wrecked so much of the City, standing defiantly intact and silhouetted against the flames of the burning buildings around it.” 

With the dedicated support of William R Miller in America and Canon Peter Chapman, the St Paul's Cathedral Trust initially raised over £4.5m to help with essential restoration work, the result of which can be seen by everyone today.

In 1969 Newall married Penny Ridsdale, having been introduced to her through the author, Barbara Cartland. He shared a fascination with Japan, equally with his father-in-law, the former Conservative MP, Sir Julian Ridsdale, a former military attache in Japan. In 1996 Newall published Japan and the City of London, a well-regarded history of trade links between the two countries. It was a source of pride that his two sons (who with their mother survive him ) followed their father into finance. Jamie works in private equity for The Intrepid Financial Group while Rupert is an energy specialist with the Bank of Montreal Capital Markets.

Newall was a member of the East India Club, Pilgrims and the MCC. Listing his recreations in Who's Who as water-skiing, fly-fishing, shooting, fencing and “trees”, he led an active life on his Suffolk estate, even after his diagnosis last year with brain cancer. Sic transit gloria mundi, as he often quoted in Latin.

Paul Henry Newall, stockbroker and company director: born London 17 September 1934; Kt 1994; married 1969 Penelope Ridsdale (two sons); died Yoxford, Suffolk 28 July 2015.