Cayman Islands mastermind Harvey McGregor leaves £1.4m

Harvey McGregor at The Botanics. File picture: Michael Hughes
Harvey McGregor at The Botanics. File picture: Michael Hughes
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A LAWYER who paid for the Botanics to stay open late on Midsummer’s Eve has left a fortune worth more than £1.4 million in his will.

Harvey McGregor QC, who died last year aged 89, is best remembered professionally for helping to set up the Cayman Islands as a tax haven.

He identified the Caribbean islands as a place for rich clients to shelter their money from the UK taxman during the 1970s.

But as a neighbour of the Botanics, he donated £5000 which allowed it to stay open beyond its normal hours each year on Midsummer’s Eve.

The lawyer was also known for throwing legendary parties at his Edinburgh home, where he would entertain guests by playing songs on his piano.

McGregor, who was born in Inverurie, passed away last June last year following a short illness.

His recently published will has revealed that he had an estate valued at £1,423,494 at the time of his death.

His wealth included his New Town property, an art and jewellery collection and two Bechstein grand pianos. In the will, McGregor instructed that his estate should be left to his long-term partner, John Davy.

The son of an engineer and grandson of a station master, McGregor was born in 1926.

He was educated at Inverurie Academy, followed by National Service as a Flying Officer in the RAF from 1946 to 1948. He then went up to Queen’s College, Oxford, from where he graduated in 1951.

He was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1955, becoming a Bencher in 1985. He took silk in 1978.

He developed a good practice, playing a significant role in developing trust law in the Cayman Islands, with a view to enabling the creation there of trusts which were not caught by UK tax provisions. At that time few had heard of the Cayman Islands, and his work was instrumental in establishing the territory as a tax haven.

In 1972, he wrote McGregor on Damages, now in its 19th edition and essential reading for all personal injury lawyers.

Music had always been an important part of Mr McGregor’s life, and he was a strong supporter of this at Oxford, particularly in his college chapel.

He put on concerts in the lodgings, sometimes performing himself.

He greatly enjoyed playing and singing Noel Coward and Cole Porter songs and he also allowed theatrical and operatic performances in the gardens of the lodgings.

Mr McGregor also served as president of the Harvard Law Association of the UK from 1981 to 2001. In 2014 he was appointed CBE for his services to law and education.

newsen@edinburghnews.com