Cameron Buchanan MSP keeps Iceland consul role

Honorary consul Cameron Buchanan has replaced David McLetchie. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Honorary consul Cameron Buchanan has replaced David McLetchie. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Cameron Buchanan, sworn in yesterday as a Conservative list MSP for Lothian and filling the vacancy left by the death of David McLetchie – flies the Icelandic flag for a good reason.

For the past 20 years, the textile entrepreneur has combined his business activities with an official diplomatic role as the honorary consul for ­Iceland.

He admits the job has involved more than he expected when he took it over from broadcaster Magnus Magnusson in 1993.

The consulate used to be based in Queen Street, but it closed after the building was targeted by protesters in 2007.

Mr Buchanan said: “There were some eco-warriors from Wester Hailes who threw paint at the building because Iceland had started whaling again.

“I was in Frankfurt at the time and had to come back to deal with it.”

It was then that the consulate – and its flag – moved to Mr Buchanan’s home in the West End.

“Our landlord chucked us out of the place in Queen Street because he didn’t like paint being thrown at his building.”

Mr Buchanan, 66, doesn’t speak Icelandic, but was asked if he was interested in becoming honorary consul by the late Magnus Magnusson, whom he knew through his great uncle, Baron Georges Marchand, who was General De Gaulle’s representative in Scotland during the Second World War.

“I bumped into him at the BBC – he was doing Mastermind and I was making a programme about the single market. He asked if I was ­interested. I said I’d never been there, but I would do my best, so I went on a day trip to ­Reykjavik.”

Mr Buchanan has a political heritage in Edinburgh. One of his great, great, great uncles was Sir George Harrison, who was Lord Provost between 1882 and 1885 and was then elected MP for Edinburgh South, but died a month later without ever taking his seat.

The Harrison Arch at 
Blackford Hill was built as a memorial to him and two streets in the city – Harrison Road and Harrison Gardens – are also named after him.

But the new Tory MSP did not join the party until 1998, the year after the Conservatives’ wipeout. “I felt it was bad there was no longer representation from all the parties.”

He joined the Edinburgh North & Leith local party, where he soon became chairman. He went on to stand three times for the European Parliament as well as for Holyrood, and became vice-chair of the Scottish party.

He will now carry on his Icelandic role alongside his new work as an MSP, although he admits: “Fishing policy might prove a bit of a problem.”