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One of UK’s richest MPs on list shaming people ‘for not paying minimum wage’

Richard Drax, Conservative MP for South Dorset, on November 15, 2019 in Weymouth, England.
Tory MP Richard Drax is a controversial figure because of his family’s historic links to slavery (Picture: Getty Images)

One of the UK’s richest MP has been ‘named and shamed’ for failing to pay his staff the national minimum wage. 

Richard Drax, whose ancestors ran a slave plantation on land he later inherited, is a director at Morden Estates Company which appears on a Government list of ‘rogue employers’, who failed to pay the national minimum wage.

The firm was one of 139 investigated by the Government between 2016 to 2018 for failing to pay staff the lowest amount it is legally required to. 

The full list of companies – which includes Tesco, Superdrug and Pizza Hut – was published on On New Year’s Eve and showed those failing to pay £6.7 million to more than 95,000 workers.

South Dorset MP Mr Drax’s Morden Estates Company was found to have underpaid 43 workers by a total of £2,761.

But the Conservative – who is reportedly the wealthiest landowner MP and has an estimated wealth of up to £150 million – claims the finding is a misunderstanding linked to shooting birds for sport.

He claims the staff paid less than the minimum wage were ‘beaters’ – who flush the animals out of their cover to be shot – and that it is traditional for them to receive a ‘modest sum’.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Geoff Moore/REX (3452731b) Richard Drax ice skating Richard Drax MP at a Victorian Christmas fair in Weymouth, Dorset, Britain - 07 Dec 2013
Mr Drax is one of the wealthiest land-owner MPs (Picture: REX)

Mr Drax has previously voted against raising the minimum wage.

But Dorset Council’s Lib Dem opposition leader Nick Ireland said: ‘It is disappointing though unsurprising that one of the richest MPs who is also the second largest landowner in Dorset (after the National Trust) can’t pay his employees the basic minimum wage.

‘Let alone a real living wage, when many of his constituents have to survive on zero hours contracts and Universal Credit.

‘As a community leader he should be setting an example for others to follow and yet again he’s fallen woefully short.’

The Drax estate includes Charborough House in South Dorset, which has at least 7,000 acres of land where organises pheasant and partridge shooting days.

Mr Drax said: ‘The 2017 case relates to the occasional casual engagement of beaters in relation to the estate sporting business.

‘This is an activity which is widely regarded as recreational and participants have, for generations, attended because they enjoy the countryside and the camaraderie.

‘A modest sum was paid to participants in acknowledgement of their contribution and costs.’

He continued: ‘The estate was operating in accordance with accepted industry best practice and sought to cooperate fully with HMRC as soon as it was highlighted that the matter could be a technical infringement of the minimum wage regulations.

‘The case was concluded quickly and all sums due were settled at the time.

‘No further issues or concerns have been raised since.’

Unite Union’s general secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘It’s good to see that robbing employers are being shamed, deservedly, again but it would be far better to make stealing unappealing in the first place.

‘Too many bad bosses get away with it. The rogues don’t fear the inspector’s knock at the door.

‘They probably think, with justification, that they have more chance of winning the lottery than being caught for their crimes.’

Business Minister Paul Scully said: ‘Paying the minimum wage is not optional, it is the law.

‘It is never acceptable for any employer to short-change their workers, but it is especially disappointing to see huge household names who absolutely should know better on this list.

Adam Waring a drug crazed yob who picked up a bottle of sanitising fluid used to combat COVID-19 then sprayed it in the faces of staff and customers at a Tesco store. He has been jailed for 16 months. Disclaimer: While Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd uses its' best endeavours to establish the copyright and authenticity of all pictures supplied, it accepts no liability for any damage, loss or legal action caused by the use of images supplied. The publication of images is solely at your discretion. For terms and conditions see Dad sprayed sanitiser in face of girl, 7, at Tesco during rampage against staff

‘This should serve as a wake-up call to named employers and a reminder to everyone of the importance of paying workers what they are legally entitled to.

‘Make no mistake, those who fail to follow minimum wage rules will be caught out and made to pay up.’

Last month it was revealed that Drax – who has been an MP since 2010 – had inherited the 250-hectare Drax Hall Plantation in Barbados.

His ancestor made slaves work for them on the plantation for more than 200 years. 

Earlier this month Labour’s Diane Abbott tweeted: ‘Ancestors of millionaire Tory MP Richard Drax made a huge fortune through slavery. Drax Hall plantations between 1640 & 1836 saw the deaths of tens of thousands of African slaves in brutal conditions. 

‘His fortune is stained with the blood. He should pay reparations.’

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