Page last updated at 07:47 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 08:47 UK

Scots peer in US forced landing

Crashed helicopter
The US Coastguard was alerted to the situation by the crew of a nearby yacht

One of Scotland's richest men escaped injury when his helicopter made a forced landing in the US, coastguard officers said.

Lord Laidlaw is said to have been at the controls of the aircraft when it came down in Penobscot Bay, Maine.

The helicopter had taken off from the peer's 182ft yacht Lady Christine near Little Deer Island on Saturday.

All four people on board were able to free themselves and wade ashore. One person was treated for neck pain.

Shallow water

Lord Laidlaw, from Keith in Moray, who is currently on leave from the House of Lords, has an estimated wealth of more than £700m.

A United States Coast Guard spokesman said: "He's the owner of the yacht and I heard reports that he was the pilot of the helicopter.

Lord Laidlaw
The helicopter had taken off from Lord Laidlaw's luxury yacht

"They were all able to wade ashore as it landed in shallow water.

"Lord Laidlaw was very co-operative. The plan is for his boat to continue sailing down the US coastline for the next 10 days.

"For a helicopter crash - and they can never be a good thing - it worked out pretty well."

The coastguard was alerted to the situation by the crew of a nearby yacht.

Lord Laidlaw, who is based abroad, made his fortune after establishing a conference-organising company called International Research.

He became a Tory peer in 2004 and has previously been criticised for not honouring an agreement to give up his status as a tax exile.

After the crash, a small boat from the Lady Christine picked the pilot and three passengers up and returned them to the luxury yacht.

The helicopter was later removed by a commercial salvage company, the coastguard said.

An investigation into the incident will be carried out.



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