Lawrence Landau receives the National Order of Benin

It is a long way from North London to Benin, but Lawrence Landau has been awarded the West-African country’s National Order.

Mr Landau, 78, has held the position of Benin’s Honorary Consul in the UK
for more than 40 years.

“Even in my time of life, it is very good for the ego to be addressed as ‘excellency,” Mr Landau tells People.

The former managing director of a shipping company, he says he became consul by chance after travelling to Benin at the age of 28 for work purposes.

“Upon arrival I was asked for a visa, which I never had, and was promptly arrested.

“After being allowed to return to the UK, I found out there was no such visa — and thus wrote a very irate letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, to explain that I was not in the habit of being arrested. He later replied inviting me to meet him in Nigeria, where, after much discussion, I was offered the position of Honorary Consul.”

He now oversees the issuing of visas to those travelling to Benin.

Born in Hamburg, Mr Landau lives in Hampstead and is a member of Hampstead Synagogue. He has three children.

    Last updated: 1:09pm, July 24 2008