Evgeny Lebedev is a man of many talents. Since taking up the reins as Evening Standard proprietor in 2009, he's turned his hand to everything from newspapers and restaurants to philanthropy and property. Theatre buff, elephant lover, a man who collects famous friends like his Francis Bacon paintings: is there anything this Russian renaissance man can't do?
For during his Gramscian waltz through the institutions of the British establishment, Lebedev became close to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London when he bought the Standard. The pair have enjoyed caviar parties and Italian soirees together, with Johnson famously being spotted dishevelled, alone and without his security detail at an airport after one such bash in 2018. A day after Johnson's thumping election triumph, he and Carrie attended a 60th birthday party for Lebedev's father Alexander; the following month Evgeny learned he was to be appointed to the Lords.
In May this year, Lebedev made his maiden speech to the House, speaking on the government's legislative agenda. Eulogising the power of the press, he ended by promising: 'A democratic, liberal nation, strong, healthy and free: I pledge that everything I do in this House will be to defend and further these principles.' Noble stuff. But while reports of Lebedev's peerage in July 2020 caused something of a stir, it appears the aspiring aristo has done little since in the Upper House.
Indeed, the only interesting thing about Lebedev's tenure in the Lords thus far has been the creation of the actual title which required the Kremlin to sign if off because he requested a Russian location for his title's 'territorial designation.' Thus far the grandly named 'Baron Lebedev, of Hampton in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and of Siberia in the Russian Federation' has made just the one contribution in the chamber, with no written questions tabled at all.
But all that could now be about to change. For word reaches Mr S there are plans for Lebedev to become a proper 'working peer' with a dedicated office to support his engagement with their Lordships' House. Just before Christmas the Standard snapped up the highly-rated Charles Carroll as its senior media and campaigns advisor, with a brief to aid in such efforts. He joins from Crosby Textor – the political consultancy co-founded by the Aussie campaign guru Lynton Crosby, whom Boris Johnson is reportedly trying to tempt to join him in No. 10.
Following his maiden speech, fellow peer David Owen congratulated Lebedev on his 'extraordinary range of experience' and declared 'we wish to hear more.' Steerpike looks forward to his desire being granted in 2022.