Business as usual…

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… at the MoD

For politicians of all parties, elevation to the rank of Minister of Defence must feel like hitting the jackpot. There is business to be done and money to be made. Over decades the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has managed to keep its nefarious dealings under wraps: witness the activities of Mark Thatcher, Prince Andrew or ‘the biggest arms deal of all time’, Al Yamamah (1985). An investigation into serious fraud in connection with this deal was called off by the Labour government in 2005 under threat from the Saudi Royal family and in ‘the interests of national security’.

For the latest defence minister, Liam Fox, life at the top didn’t last very long. He was forced to resign for breach of the ministerial code on 14 October after numerous shady activities involving his ‘best friend’, Adam Werrity, were uncovered. Serious Westminster watchers would have been alerted to Fox’s high-flying when it was announced that Mrs Thatcher, who is normally too frail to attend anything, surfaced at Fox’s birthday party in September 2010. It was Fox’s ‘charity’, Atlantic Bridge, that no doubt attracted Mrs Thatcher’s admiration and which bankrolled Werrity’s ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ globetrotting to the tune of £85,000, accompanying Fox around the world to billionaire locations. This dubious charity had to be wound up quickly when the Charity Commissioners discovered that its only charitable objects were Fox and Werrity, and possibly the Tory Party itself. Their company, Pargav, which operated as a slush fund for the pair, was financed by a range of international arms dealers, private intelligence firms, Israeli lobbyists and bankers, some of whom now want their money back.

Over a period of 18 months, Werrity attended 22 meetings at the MoD and 18 meetings abroad, posing at many as Fox’s advisor and without any security clearance. Many in government and the civil service must have known about all this, but only reluctantly put an end to it when the details were made public – just like the MPs’ expenses scandal. Last minute attempts by PM David Cameron to rescue Fox were to no avail. What we do not know, and may never know, is how much it was all worth.

… at Wapping

News Corporation chairman James Murdoch made another appearance before the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport on 10 November and the public inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Leveson into ‘the culture, practices and ethics of the media’ opened on 14 November. So far numerous witnesses, including the parents of murder victim Milly Dowler, have testified to the baseness of the culture, practices and ethics of News International and other media corporations in Britain. In fact the hacking inquiries have simply opened up new opportunities for journalists to spy on the lawyers representing the Dowlers, witnesses to the Leveson Inquiry and, indeed, all the members of the Commons Select Committee, in the hope that further reputations can be trashed and private lives violated.

… and at the Yard

New Commissioner of Metropolitan Police Hogan-‘Howler’ has opened his term of office promising ‘a war on crime’ and more violence against London’s population in the form of taser guns and plastic bullets. The opening ‘shock and awe’ Operation Hawk raid on a ‘drug den’ in South London, accompanied by London Mayor Boris Johnson, led to the cautioning of a woman aged over 50 for possession of cannabis. There is to be no war on police corruption, however. All the senior officers implicated in the failure to investigate the hacking scandal, including burying 11,000 pages of evidence naming hacking victims, have been exonerated. No police have been investigated for corruption despite clear indications that police were routinely paid for information.

‘The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.’ (Ancient Arab proverb)

Carol Brickley

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 224 December 2011/January 2012

 

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