Nigel Lawson enjoys 80th birthday with girlfriend almost a decade younger than daughter Nigella


'I'm a lucky man!': Lovestruck Lord Lawson is seeing banker's ex-wife who demanded 122m in divorce case
Former chancellor talks of new-found happiness with 43-year-old academic

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UPDATED:

23:21 GMT, 12 March 2012

At 80, he has reached an age where for most men dating is but a distant memory.

But twice-divorced Nigel Lawson has found new happiness with a multi-millionaire’s ex-wife who – at 43 – is little more than half his age.

No wonder he admits: ‘I’m a lucky man.’

Stepping out: Lord Lawson and Tina Jennings spotted together last year at the opening night of Yes Prime Minister

Stepping out: Lord Lawson and Tina Jennings spotted together last year at the opening night of Yes Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher’s former Chancellor met Tina Jennings, an academic at Oxford University, when she attended a lecture he gave about economic policy.

The couple have now been together for more than a year and are said to have won the approval of Lord Lawson’s daughter Nigella who – at 52 – is almost a decade older than his girlfriend.

The life peer is famously guarded about his private life and has previously refused to comment about Dr Jennings, a mother of three. But in an interview, he said he was ‘very happy’ in the relationship, despite the 37-year age gap.

New flame: Lord Lawson in a rare public appearance with Tina Jennings

New flame: Lord Lawson in a rare public appearance with Tina Jennings

‘I’m well aware that I’m older,’ he
said. ‘I don’t pretend that I’m not old. I don’t pretend to be younger
than I am. That’s ridiculous, that’s absurd. But what matters is if the
relationship works. Happily it does, and that’s all that matters.’

Dr Jennings is a visiting fellow at St Antony’s College in Oxford, where she specialises in Russian business and politics.

Born in Canada, she worked in Russia
for 12 years as an investment banker and was married to one of New
Zealand’s richest men, Stephen Jennings, known as the ‘Kiwi Oligarch’
because he runs Moscow’s leading investment bank, Renaissance Capital.

Pleased: TV cook Nigella Lawson, pictured here with her father, reportedly said she was delighted that her father had found a new companion

Pleased: TV cook Nigella Lawson, pictured here with her father, reportedly said she was delighted that her father had found a new companion


Second wife: Ex-researcher Therese

Second wife: Ex-researcher Therese

When she filed for divorce in Moscow
in 2006, Dr Jennings asked for 122million of his vast wealth although
the eventual settlement is not known.

She now lives in Oxford, where two of her children are at school.

Nigel Lawson and his first wife
Vanessa Salmon, heiress to the Lyons Corner House firm, married in 1955
and had four children, newspaper columnist Dominic, now 55, Nigella,
Thomasina, who died from breast cancer aged 32, and Horatia, now 44.

The Lawsons divorced in 1980 and the
then Energy Minister married former House of Commons researcher Therese
Maclear, with whom he had another two children, Tom and Emily, now in
their 30s.

The couple separated three years ago
and divorced last year. Lord Lawson, who left the Commons in 1992 and
shed five stone in less than a year, said he felt lucky he had a strong
constitution, a full head of hair and was ‘not too decrepit’ as he
turned 80 at the weekend.

He divides his time between his homes
in London and Gascony in south-west France, where he said Dr Jennings
was planning to join him to celebrate his birthday.

He
told the Evening Standard: ‘Yes, she is a lot younger, but she’s, what,
43, with three children, two of them teenagers, so she’s a fully mature
person.

Big family: Nigel and Vanessa Lawson with their children

Big family: Nigel and Vanessa Lawson with their children

Nigel Lawson, with second wife Therese, son Tom and daughter Emily in the early 80s

Nigel Lawson, with second wife Therese, son Tom and daughter Emily in the early 80s

‘We live separately, of course. She has her life, her job in Oxford, and two of her children are at school in Oxford – so we live separately.

‘When I have to travel, we often travel together. But we’ve been together for just over a year and, touch wood, I’m a lucky man.’

He added: ‘Private life should remain private but it is the most important part of life. If one is ever going to achieve happiness in this world, it is through one’s private life, not through one’s public life – I am very lucky in my private life.’

Lord Lawson of Blaby has published his memoirs, a diet book and a volume on climate change since retiring from front-bench politics.

He has also founded a climate-change think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and said he resented the perception that older people did not care about the environment.

‘In fact, I probably care about the future more than I ever have done, simply because I now have not merely a number of children but a considerable number of grandchildren, and I care about my grandchildren as all grandparents care about their grandchildren.

‘The idea that because you’re old you’re completely selfish and think, well, I’ve only got another five or ten years to live, so I couldn’t care less – that couldn’t be further from the truth.’