Noon nominated for peerage by key Labour figures: Report

The 74-year-old multi-millionaire businessman has been nominated by key Labour figures, who believe he was unfairly treated during the scandal, 'The Sunday Times' reported today.

Noon gave Labour 205,000 pounds earlier this year for its general election campaign, taking to 738,000 pounds the value of his total gifts to the party, the report said. He was first proposed for a peerage by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said in his official citation that the India-born businessman "would be an active member of the Lords bringing wide-ranging business experience".

However, in March 2006, the House of Lords' appointments commission, which vets potential peers, turned Noon down because he had failed to mention in his nomination papers that he had lent 250,000 pounds to Labour.

It later emerged that he had removed any mention of the loan at the suggestion of Lord Levy - then Blair's chief fundraiser - because it was a loan, not a donation. The 'cash for honours' scandal led to a 16-month police inquiry into the peerage nominations of Noon and three other Labour benefactors and to officers questioning Blair.

Noon is now being proposed as one of the 10 new Labour peers to be appointed before Christmas. Senior party figures said he was an "innocent victim" of the earlier scandal.

Others believed to be under consideration for peerages include Sir Ronald Cohen, the Egyptian-born businessman who has given 1.8 million pounds to Labour and was a confidant of former prime minister Gordon Brown; and Nigel Doughty, the private equity tycoon, Labour assistant treasurer and chairman of Nottingham Forest.

Noon, whose fortune is estimated at 75 million pounds in The Sunday Times Rich List, first came to Britain in 1964 with just 50 pounds in his pocket. He started a business making Indian sweets, but his fortune came from ready meals.

In 2006, Prince Charles opened his factory in Southall, west London, which now cooks about 1.5 million curries a week. He has since diversified into the construction industry. Noon has taken a hardline and sometimes controversial position against extremists.

After the attacks on London in July 2005, he said that immigrants "preaching sedition and treason" should be stripped of their British nationality and "sent back" to the country they came from. He has also called for people to learn English and to "forget their ghetto mentality".

Noon was abroad this weekend and unavailable for comment. In addition to the 10 Labour peers, there will also be 15 Lib Dems in the Honours list. Prime Minister David Cameron is in discussions about increasing the number of Tory peers from 25 to 28.

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