'Publicity shy' chemicals entrepreneur Jim Ratcliffe named Britain's richest person in Sunday Times Rich List

A "publicity shy" chemicals entrepreneur is now the richest person in Britain after his wealth leapt £15.3 billion in a single year.

Jim Ratcliffe, 65, chief executive of Ineos, topped the Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune of £21.05 billion, leapfrogging his way from 18th place year.

Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green's fortune took a tumble, dropping by £787 million to £2 billion, while celebrity chef Jamie Oliver exited the list completely following a rocky year for his restaurant empire.

The top 20 on the list are worth a combined £218.6 billion - increasing their cumulative wealth by £33.5 billion in the past year. Of the 1,000 people on the list, 145 are billionaires and 141 are women.

Mr Ratcliffe, whose firm is currently locked in a legal battle with the Scottish government over its moratorium on fracking, emerged in pole position after additional details led to a "substantial revaluation" of his assets.

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken was the highest ranked woman. Credit: PA

At second place were the Hinduja brothers, Sri and Gopi, worth £20.64 billion. Their fortune jumped by £4.44 billion on 2017, with their India-based car manufacturer Ashok Leyland and Mumbai-based IndusInd Bank having a particularly successful year.

British-American industrialist-turned-media mogul Sir Len Blavatnik came in third place with £15.26 billion to his name.

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken of the brewing dynasty was the highest ranked woman at number six. She and her financier husband Michel de Carvalho - vice chairman of Citigroup - increased their wealth by almost 20% over the past year to £11.1 billion.

Sir Philip Green's fortune dropped by £787 million to £2 billion. Credit: PA

Falling sales at Sir Philip Green's flagship brands Topshop and Miss Selfridge and his promise to contribute £363 million towards the BHS pension deficit hit his fortune.

Jamie Oliver fell out of the list as his restaurant empire undergoes restructuring after racking up debts of more than £70 million. In January the chain announced 12 of its 37 branches were to close.

Financier Ernesto Bertarelli and his wife Kirsty saw the biggest decrease in wealth, losing £1.48 billion due to falls in Ernesto's pharmaceutical company stakes, the list's author said. The couple are now 11th on the list.

Aristocrat Hugh Grosvenor is still the UK's youngest billionaire at the age of 27 having inherited his fortune and his title - 7th duke of Westminster - following the death of his father two years ago. His wealth grew by £444 million in the last year to £9.96 billion.

Hugh Grosvenor is the UK's youngest billionaire at the age of 27. Credit: PA