Arise Sir Jim - Ineos boss is being made a knight

Ineos boss Jin Ratcliffe - who has been made a knight.
Ineos boss Jin Ratcliffe - who has been made a knight.

The boss of Grangemouth’s Ineos refinery has been made a knight in the Queen’s new year honours list.

The 65-year-old billionaire is frequently said to be Britain’s richest man, and reputedly increased his personal wealth by £6bn to £21bn last year.

But he is best known for his staunch support of fracking, and a history of stormy industrial relations.

Mr Ratcliffe, who founded Ineos, is being honoured for his services to investment and business, but is routinely criticised for his style of management.

He is currently in the throes of a legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s decision to ban fracking, which in a complex case has been counter-challenged by Friends of the Earth.

Five years ago it appeared he was threatening to quit Grangemouth, in a move said to put 1,400 jobs directly at risk, over a protracted row surrounding the suspension of a union shop steward.

The plant was closed during the row, in a bitter dispute which assumed the dimensions of a national crisis.

However the Manchester-born tycoon has always robustly defended his own corner, while his firm has scored spectacular business success.

In 2009 he was granted an honorary fellowship by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, and four years later received the Petrochemical Heritage Award.

Aside from his frequently controversial industry role, he has an active lifestyle at variance with that of the typical super-wealthy business chief, having carried out expeditions to the North and South Poles, as well as a motorbike trek in South Africa.

He campaigns against childhood obesity, and is founder of the charity Go Run for Fun, which - supported by Ineos - tries to encourage children aged five to 10 to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Last week he said primary schools (presumably down south, as education in Scotland is run by the Scottish Government) should be legally required to make children run a mile every day to keep fit.

This week he was in daily newspaper headlines again after a bid to acquire Chelsea Football Club was reportedly turned down.

One Labour MSP told a daily newspaper the decision to make Mr Ratcliffe a knight justified public disquiet at the honours decision, commenting: “Ratcliffe is a man who has a desire to frack the entire central belt of Scotland with no regard to the environmental consequences.

“He is the man who singlehandedly sought to hold the country to ransom with his outrageous behaviour at Grangemouth”.