CONSERVATIVE peer and Tory fund-raiser Lord Irvine Laidlaw has confessed to being a secret sex addict and has announced plans to donate £1m to an addiction charity.
The tycoon, Scotland's fourth-richest man, made his admission last night following a News of the World investigation.
He says he has checked himself into a six-week residential sex addict programme and has made the donation to help "fellow sufferers."
The 64-year-old Baron of Rothiemay, who is married and worth about 730m, has given around 6m to the Conservative party. He was born in Banffshire but is now a tax exile living overseas after selling his communications company for more than 700m.
Laidlaw has admitted taking part in orgies with prostitutes, charging 3,000 a night, at his Monaco tax haven home.
In a letter to the newspaper's editor, Laidlaw wrote: "On Sunday I understand you will report on a sex party that I organised recently. I haven't read the story… but the basis of the story is likely to be correct.
"I have been fighting sexual addiction for my whole adult life. Sexual addiction is comparable to other, better known addictions, such as drug, alcohol and gambling. Many people suffer different types of this disease. There is no cure for it and self-help is rarely successful.
"But having an addiction is no excuse for my behaviour. I have been in therapy a number of times, but I have not worked hard enough or continuously enough on this. I should also have been stronger in resisting the temptations."
He adds: "I want to say how deeply sorry I am for the embarrassment that I must cause my friends and colleagues. I apologise from the bottom of my heart.
"With Christine's (his wife's] support and encouragement, I am seeking long-term expert help, not to cure me, but to prevent any relapse into unacceptable behaviours. I am also planning to make a 1m donation to a UK addiction charity to help others in similar circumstances fight their addiction.
"I hope that, in time, people will be able to understand and forgive this difficult, personal battle."
The newspaper reported that the peer recently spent 27,000 for four female and one male prostitute to join him at the luxurious Hermitage Hotel in Monte Carlo. They spent the night drinking champagne and taking cocaine in the 6,000 presidential suite – although one of the girls said that Laidlaw did not use cocaine.
He has now booked himself a six-week residential stay at a clinic in South Africa.
An unnamed friend told the newspaper: "Irvine wants to get help and make it available for those who might not be in a position to pay for it. He regrets his actions totally and wants to get better."
Laidlaw is one of four major donors to the Conservative Party who was questioned by police investigating cash for peerages claims, but he has always declared his donations correctly to the Electoral Commission.
Last year, he converted a 2.9m loan to the party into a gift and donated 200,000 to the Scottish Conservative party. He also pays the 100,000 salary of a senior spin doctor.
The peer has donated large sums to charities, including the Laidlaw Youth Project, which mentors Scottish children with difficult backgrounds.
He started his working life as a financial analyst with the US publishing house Doubleday, but left in 1973 to found the Institute for International Research, where he made his fortune. This became the world's biggest trade conference and exhibition organiser.
Laidlaw and his second wife Christine divide their time between their 4m vineyard on the French Riviera, a 3m apartment in Monte Carlo and a 10m estate near Cape Town, South Africa. They also own a 2m London house, a Scottish mansion and a 14m stately home in Hampshire.
Scotland's fourth richest man
Irvine Alan Stewart Laidlaw, born in 1943 in Keith, Banffshire, is a Scottish businessman and a member of the House of Lords.
In the Sunday Times Rich List 2008, published today, he is listed as the 110th richest man in Britain and the fourth wealthiest man in Scotland, with an estimated fortune of 730 million.
Laidlaw founded the company Institute for International Research in 1973, which he sold in 2005 for a sum believed to be in the order of 775m.
He is one of the largest financial backers of the UK's Conservative Party and was made a life peer as Baron Laidlaw, of Rothiemay in Banffshire in June 2004.