Arms industry corruption in British parliament

This is a video about Tony Blair and the BAE Systems-Saudi Arabia corruption scandal.

Update on that scandal, 30 July 2008: here. And here. And here.

From British daily The Independent:

Exposed: the arms lobbyist in Parliament

‘We’ll ask the questions that you can’t, without your fingerprints,’ he tells clients

By James Macintyre

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A senior arms lobbyist is gaining access to ministers, MPs and peers inside Parliament using a research assistant pass allotted to a member of the House of Lords who benefits financially from one of his companies, The Independent has learnt.

Robin Ashby, who is chairman of a defence consultancy firm that offers to ask questions of government on behalf of its clients “without your fingerprint being evident”, includes among his acquaintances the Defence Secretary, the Chancellor and the Chief Whip.

Mr Ashby’s firm, Bergmans, lobbies on behalf of more than a dozen large defence and aerospace companies including BAE Systems, Northern Defence Industries, UK Defence Forum, Boeing and Rolls-Royce, which has been criticised for its past links to the Burmese regime.

Mr Ashby’s name features on an official staff list that was published by the House of Lords for the first time last night following pressure from media outlets including The Independent.

As Bergmans’ key lobbyist, Mr Ashby enjoys unfettered access to the Palace of Westminster. With his pass, he can bring several colleagues or members of the public into Parliament’s numerous entertainment venues, including the Lords’ terrace bar overlooking the Thames where he “frequently” meets Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, and other ministers.

Mr Ashby can also use the pass, which is allotted to Baroness Harris of Richmond, to access the House of Commons library, which offers valuable research facilities at no cost.

Lady Harris is a Liberal Democrat whip and spokesman on the police and Northern Ireland. She receives a “regular” income from a separate company run by Mr Ashby, Great North News Service, for which the peer acts as an “adviser”, according to her parliamentary declaration of financial interests. Meanwhile her “researcher” gains access to the Palace of Westminster’s corridors of power and a string of top-level ministers.

As well as submitting Freedom of Information questions to government, Bergmans offers insider information about how the British Government works to a host of foreign countries including the Bahamas, Bahrain, the USA and Russia. On Bergmans’ website, Mr Ashby is shown meeting, among others, Tony Blair, his former press secretary Alastair Campbell, the Chancellor Alistair Darling, the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the Chief Whip Geoff Hoon and Mr Browne.

MPs have been required to supply full information about their staff since 1985, but members of the Lords were exempt from the rule until last night.

30 peers employ staff who are also lobbyists: here.

No expense spared when it comes to booze for MPs: here.

5 thoughts on “Arms industry corruption in British parliament

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