From British daily The Independent:
Labour peer in standards inquiry
Watchdog called in as complaint is made over Lord Mackenzie and an Iraqi minister in exile
By Michael Gillard
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, the Labour peer and former Home Office adviser, is being investigated over his activities as the paid chairman of a private security firm.
A parliamentary watchdog is examining a complaint that the peer used his position in the Lords to further the business interests of the firm, Haymarket Management Services. Separately, Scotland Yard said it is considering a complaint about the security assistance provided by Haymarket to an Iraqi politician wanted in Baghdad in connection with a $1.3bn (£900m) fraud inquiry.
The Metropolitan Black Police Association (MetBPA) complaint is the latest salvo in a long dispute. West Midlands Police is already investigating an allegation made by Lord Mackenzie against Metropolitan Police Commander Ali Dizaei, the president of the National Black Police Association. The peer used House of Lords headed paper to make the complaint about Commander Dizaei’s conduct. The Clerk to Parliament is now investigating the use of Lords’ letterhead. It is also looking into whether rules were broken when Lord Mackenzie hosted a reception for Haymarket in the Peers dining room in June 2006.
A separate claim against the peer is that Heathrow security was breached when the Iraqi politician entered Britain with the apparent approval of the authorities, despite being the subject of an international arrest warrant.
The politician was Hazim al-Shaalan, an Iraqi exile whom the Foreign Office and Washington plucked from obscurity to become the country’s first defence minister in 2004. The Shia politician travelled between the two countries on a British passport.
However, an Iraqi anti-corruption judge issued a warrant a year later after investigators claimed to have found a black hole in the ministry’s accounts and a trail of bank transfers to Jordan. Mr Shaalan and 23 others were accused of embezzling $800m in an arms deal with Poland and Pakistan. He engaged Haymarket apparently in the belief that the security firm’s political and police connections would help in lobbying the Home Office and US authorities over the investigation.
Haymarket is believed to have earned £300,000 for protecting the Iraqi for several months between late 2005 and 2006 while he attempted to establish his innocence. The politician never returned to Iraq to stand trial but was sentenced in absentia to seven years for fraud in May 2007.
Scotland Yard recently sent one of its detectives to examine a dossier of witness statements, emails and other documents relating to the firm’s activities during this period.
One witness, an intermediary between Haymarket and Mr Shaalan, claims a representative of the firm boasted that he could put together a snatch squad of ex-British special forces to bring an Iraqi minister, who was under house arrest in Baghdad, back to the UK. The operation was codenamed Tooth Extraction.
The witness, an Iraqi businessman based in London, also claims the same Haymarket representative said he could arrange to “break into any person’s office or home to remove computer equipment for the sum of £15,000”.
The Iraqi politician is understood to have paid Haymarket directly and by transferring money through the client account of Dean & Dean, his solicitors.
He arrived at Heathrow on 8 October 2005. The arrest warrant had been issued days earlier in Iraq, but may not have been received by Interpol. Nevertheless, it is alleged that Haymarket may have used police contacts to facilitate the politician’s entry without going through normal immigration controls.
Amid the ongoing claims of victory in Iraq, American forces and the pro-US government have come into conflict with predominantly Sunni Arab militias that were bribed into ending their resistance to the occupation during the “surge” in 2007: here.
Iraq: British troops withdrawal does not mean peace: here.