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Lord Palumbo of Southwark: Ministry of Sound owner chooses title

James Palumbo - founder and owner of Elephant & Castle's Ministry of Sound nightclub - will be known as Lord Palumbo of Southwark when he takes his seat in the House of Lords this month.

James Palumbo was awarded a life peerage this summer and will be formally introduced in the House of Lords on Thursday 31 October.

The new peer will take the Liberal Democrat whip in the House of Lords and his company has made donations to the local party as well as supporting the mayoral campaign of Brian Paddick, also now elevated to the peerage.

More than 20 years ago Palumbo launched the Ministry of Sound in a former bus garage in Gaunt Street off Newington Causeway.

"The opening night in September 1991 was mayhem," Lord Palumbo writes on his website.

"There were thousands queuing outside. London had never seen anything like it. The club was an instant success. I was taking in one weekend what I earned over a whole year in the City. But the success attracted parasites who wanted their share – drug gangs.

"It was only a matter of time before I lost control of the club, and so I was faced with a stark choice. Either I quit my City job and try to save the business, or let it be engulfed by the gangs.

"I made my decision and found myself at the club's front door dressed in a bullet proof jacket. Outsmarting the gangs was the scariest period of my life, involving violence, guns and the threat of death."

Ministry of Sound is now locked in a long-running planning controversy over proposals for a new high-rise residential development opposite its Gaunt Street base which the club claims will put its 24-hour licence in jeopardy.

Lord Palumbo's decision to include Southwark in his title means that all three main parties now have a peer who uses the borough's name. He joins Labour's Lord Kennedy of Southwark and the Conservative Baroness Perry of Southwark.

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