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The Corruption of New Labour: Britain’s Watergate?


John Simkin
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Last week Lord Goldsmith said he had no intention of interfering with the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the BAE-Saudi Arabia contract. In has now become clear that the reason Goldsmith changed his mind was because he came under pressure from Tony Blair to drop the case. Blair admitted this today in a television interview. He justified the decision on the grounds of national security. Allegedly the Saudi government had threatened Blair that they would withdraw help on the war on terror if the investigation continued. (It is also claimed that the Saudis have threatened Bush that if he withdraws troops from Iraq they will provide help to the Sunni Muslims.)

In other words, the prime minister has broken an important aspect of the British Constitution. That is: “the rule of law requires that the executive does not intervene in the operation of the course of justice”.

The Tories of course have kept very quiet about this decision made by Blair. In fact, last night, on C4 news, the government would not supply anybody to defend this decision. Instead, the task was given to a backbench Tory MP. The reason for this is that he was a junior minister when the original deal was done. The Tories are therefore very keen to bring an end to the investigation.

SFO investigators have discovered that BAE Systems has a £1 billion slush fund. The issue is not about bribes being paid to members of the Saudi royal family. It is about this money finding its way back to politicians. We now know how New Labour is going to solve its problems of its £17m debt. It will be paid off by BAE Systems and the Saudis. Not directly of course but via someone like Lord Sainsbury.

What triggered off these events? If we know this, we can work out why Lord Goldsmith had to change his mind about his decision not to interfere in the SFO’s investigation. The reason he said this was until ten days ago he thought that the SFO could not get hold of the information that they needed to obtain a successful prosecution. However, it was a decision taken in Switzerland that changed all that. The Swiss authorities decided to give the SFO access to BAE’s offshore banking transactions with Saudi middlemen. The normally highly-secret bank records were handed over to the SFO. Details of these accounts were leaked to the Sunday Times. The report appeared in last Sunday’s paper. One would have assumed that this news would be followed by a decline in BAE’s share-price. In fact, the opposite happened - the share-price went up. People in the know, realized that this news would mean that Tony Blair would stop the investigation. One of the things that Blair is guilty of is insider dealing.

Blair knew that once the SFO had access to these bank accounts, they would be able to trace the money back to BAE executives and their political lapdogs.

On Tuesday Lord Goldsmith ordered a meeting with Helen Garlick and her team of SFO officers. After they presented their considerable evidence on the case, Goldsmith ordered them to bring the inquiry to an end.

The problem for Blair and Goldsmith is the reason for this decision. The reason for this is that Britain is a signatory to the OECD’s anti-bribery convention. Article 5 of the convention precludes “taking into account considerations of the national economic interest or the potential effect upon relations with another state”. Therefore, Blair and Goldsmith were forced to give the excuse that the investigation was being called off for reasons of “national security”. This enables them to say they cannot go into any more detail as this would itself “endanger national security”.

Once again, as with the invasion of Iraq, Blair is hiding behind national security in order to cover-up his illegal actions. Everybody can see this, and anybody with even a brief understanding of the subject, knows that Blair is a corrupt politician who is willing to lie to all and sundry in order to hold onto power.

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John Kampfner

Saturday December 16, 2006

The Guardian

This much we knew already: Tony Blair's administration is riddled with double standards and hypocrisy in its international dealings. But Lord Goldsmith's announcement that the Serious Fraud Office was calling off its investigation into alleged corruption involving BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia dragged matters to an all-time low.

The explanations given are startling. Goldsmith has form in being flexible with the law and the truth - as with his legal advice in advance of Iraq. He said the following, to a near-empty House of Lords on Thursday evening as the media's attention was on the police questioning of the prime minister and the report on Diana's death: "It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest." In this respect, he was nothing if not candid: the law is not sacrosanct. He and others went on to say that this interest was not commercial, but based in diplomacy and security. As not a shred of evidence has been provided, one can be fairly safe in dismissing this as disingenuous.

The economic concerns are understandable. BAE is one of the UK's largest corporations and the world's fourth largest arms company. The Al-Yamamah deal, signed in 1988, has been worth £43bn. These and other justifications were eloquently set out on the radio yesterday by the former Conservative convict, Jonathan Aitken.

The problem here is not really BAE. Companies flog arms around the world, if they are allowed or encouraged to. The job of politicians is to ensure that economic activity is consistent with the law and other standards. The response of Labour MPs and trade unions has been shoddy. Jobs are important, but the need to preserve them should not supersede the law. There is, indeed, no evidence that the arms industry is the best way of creating and sustaining employment. It is the one sector that has been allowed to buck the rigours of the market, where cartels are rampant and state subsidies in the UK alone are estimated at close to £1bn a year.

The arms industry has long enjoyed special treatment from government. Documents obtained by this newspaper three years ago showed how the Defence Export Services Organisation, an arm of the Ministry of Defence, has been officially authorising what it calls "special commissions" - in other words, bungs. In so doing it was conspiring to break Britain's own laws. None of this is new. According to those same documents, the head of DESO acknowledged back in 1977 bribes paid to the Shah of Iran. Just as then, just as now, we seek to ingratiate ourselves with odious regimes. Irrespective of the morality of this approach, it rarely pays dividends in terms of security and intelligence.

What is most disconcerting is that this government, briefly, pledged to be different. Robin Cook's mission statement of May 12 1997, quietly disparaged by Downing Street, still bears remembering. "Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must support the demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist for ourselves," he said. This code of conduct has since been unpicked to such a degree that it is now meaningless.

Now, thanks to Blair, Britain can be blackmailed at will by dictatorships, and will do whatever it takes to stay on good economic terms with them. When in future a foreign government cocks a snook at us over civil liberties, when children are killed by oppressive governments using weapons made in the UK, greet the howls of outrage from our ministers with derision. When Blair or Gordon Brown or any future prime minister cite morality in waging war in a foreign land, treat their words with scorn.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,1973413,00.html

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I started this thread on 20th March with the title “The Corruption of Tony Blair: Britain’s Watergate”. I said this for two main reasons:

1. Watergate never revealed details of Nixon’s true crimes.

2. Nixon was forced to resign not because of the Watergate burglary but because of his role in the cover-up.

I believe that this will be true of Blair. The “loans for honours” case is only a minor crime when compared to the corrupt reasons for invading Iraq. Also, like Nixon, he is likely to resign over the cover-up rather than the actual crime.

It is reported that the Crown Prosecution Service is considering charging Blair’s officials with “perverting the course of justice”. It seems they have found evidence of emails and documents being destroyed.

Blair made a statement after he was interviewed by the police claiming that he had explained that he had nominated “David Garrard, Barry Townsley, Chai Patel and Gulam Noon” for peerages because of work done for the Labour Party. This made it legal as it is a long-held tradition that a number of seats in the House of Lords allocated for long-standing party supporters. It is true that long-term party supporters are nominated by party leaders for the House of Lords. These people are usually former MPs or current party officials. However, these four men do not fall into this category. They did not support the party before Blair took power in 1997. They only have a record of supporting the government.

Blair’s lies were exposed by the release of these four men’s nomination papers over the weekend. These papers said nothing about their service to the Labour Party. Instead it referred to their “public” service, for example, providing money for the government’s “City Academy” programme.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It has been disclosed that Tony Blair has been having a free holiday in Miami this Christmas. We were not supposed to know about this. It was only revealed when his BA jet overshot the runway at Miami International airport yesterday. The Blairs were headed for the splendid waterfront home of former Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb.

Blair quickly released a statement saying that he had paid Robin Gibb to stay at his home in Miami. This was quickly contradicted by Gibb's wife as saying the couple had neither asked for nor received any money from the Blairs.

Is Robin Gibb after a peerage? Maybe, but he is also very active in the campaign by the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters’ call to the government to tighten copyright protection for artists. Another leading figure in this campaign, Cliff Richard, provided a holiday home for the Blairs in Barbados in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

Gordon Brown has rejected appeals to extend the copyright on sound recordings, despite the intervention of Gibb and Richard. The present strategy is to ask Blair to lobby the European Commission for a change.

Blair has a history of obtaining free holidays. In 1997 he used Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson’s 10-acre Tuscan estate. Later Robinson was involved in the Peter Mandleson home loan affair.

In 2004 the Blairs stayed at Silvio Berlusconi’s 73-room Sardinian estate. He is currently facing prosecution alongside the husband of one of Blair’s ministers.

Other free holidays include:

Villa del Gombo, Pisa (Vannino Chiti) in 1999

Villa Cusona, Chianti (Girolamo Strozzi) in 1998, 2000 and 2006

Chateau Lot (Alain Dominique Perrin) in 2002

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It has been disclosed that Tony Blair has been having a free holiday in Miami this Christmas. We were not supposed to know about this. It was only revealed when his BA jet overshot the runway at Miami International airport yesterday. The Blairs were headed for the splendid waterfront home of former Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb.

Blair quickly released a statement saying that he had paid Robin Gibb to stay at his home in Miami. This was quickly contradicted by Gibb's wife as saying the couple had neither asked for nor received any money from the Blairs.

Is Robin Gibb after a peerage? Maybe, but he is also very active in the campaign by the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters’ call to the government to tighten copyright protection for artists. Another leading figure in this campaign, Cliff Richard, provided a holiday home for the Blairs in Barbados in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

Gordon Brown has rejected appeals to extend the copyright on sound recordings, despite the intervention of Gibb and Richard. The present strategy is to ask Blair to lobby the European Commission for a change.

Blair has a history of obtaining free holidays. In 1997 he used Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson’s 10-acre Tuscan estate. Later Robinson was involved in the Peter Mandleson home loan affair.

In 2004 the Blairs stayed at Silvio Berlusconi’s 73-room Sardinian estate. He is currently facing prosecution alongside the husband of one of Blair’s ministers.

Other free holidays include:

Villa del Gombo, Pisa (Vannino Chiti) in 1999

Villa Cusona, Chianti (Girolamo Strozzi) in 1998, 2000 and 2006

Chateau Lot (Alain Dominique Perrin) in 2002

This post put on whole new perspective on Cliff's famous "We're all going on a - Summer Holiday!"

Incidentally, were junior Blairs on the trip?

I would have thought that was the real reason for secrecy.

In my day, any kid so naff as to stay at a Bee Gees mansion with parents would be teased mercilessly.

It just wasn't worth the risk.

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Incidentally, were junior Blairs on the trip?

I would have thought that was the real reason for secrecy.

In my day, any kid so naff as to stay at a Bee Gees mansion with parents would be teased mercilessly.

It just wasn't worth the risk.

Apparently two of the sons are with the Blairs.

Interestingly, this could develop into a sex scandal. In 2003 Robin Gibb revealed in a radio interview that his wife, Dwina is a lesbian who loved three-in-a-bed sex. Later that year, this was confirmed by Dwina, who claimed that she often invited friends to join her and Robin to take part in their sex games. Is that the reason Tony and Cherie were invited to Miami?

Maybe, Tony is negotiating with Dwina about funding an academy school that specializes in the teaching of religion. It might be controversial as Dwina is a Druid. However, that has stopped Blair allowing creationists from funding academies.

It has been estimated that the Blairs have enjoyed “free holidays” worth more than £775,000 since 1997. One of the most interesting providers of these holidays is Alain-Dominique Perrin. His company Richemont, owns a large stake in British American Tobacco. It is of course the lobbying of the tobacco industry that started Blair’s corruption via the Bernie Ecclestone affair. It is also the reason why Blair fought a rear-guard action against the demands to have smoking banned in pubs.

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Incidentally, were junior Blairs on the trip?

I would have thought that was the real reason for secrecy.

In my day, any kid so naff as to stay at a Bee Gees mansion with parents would be teased mercilessly.

It just wasn't worth the risk.

Apparently two of the sons are with the Blairs.

Interestingly, this could develop into a sex scandal. In 2003 Robin Gibb revealed in a radio interview that his wife, Dwina is a lesbian who loved three-in-a-bed sex. Later that year, this was confirmed by Dwina, who claimed that she often invited friends to join her and Robin to take part in their sex games. Is that the reason Tony and Cherie were invited to Miami?

Maybe, Tony is negotiating with Dwina about funding an academy school that specializes in the teaching of religion. It might be controversial as Dwina is a Druid. However, that has stopped Blair allowing creationists from funding academies.

It has been estimated that the Blairs have enjoyed “free holidays” worth more than £775,000 since 1997. One of the most interesting providers of these holidays is Alain-Dominique Perrin. His company Richemont, owns a large stake in British American Tobacco. It is of course the lobbying of the tobacco industry that started Blair’s corruption via the Bernie Ecclestone affair. It is also the reason why Blair fought a rear-guard action against the demands to have smoking banned in pubs.

John

This is all very interesting and quite tittilating too.

I had no idea the Blairs shacked up with pagan troilists on clandestine Caribbean Yuletide trysts. Whatever next?

It makes Profumo look like a boy scout.

Notice how what is arguably the biggest crime of all slips in under the radar, almost unnoticed.

Amidst the furore about sex, cigarettes and 'alternative lifestyles', few will notice that the Blairs torture their own children with Bee Gees music.

Happy new year from down under!

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Notice how what is arguably the biggest crime of all slips in under the radar, almost unnoticed.

Amidst the furore about sex, cigarettes and 'alternative lifestyles', few will notice that the Blairs torture their own children with Bee Gees music.

Apparently, Tony Blair has taken his guitar with him to Miami as he intends to have a “jam session” with Robin Gibb.

One critic wrote that Robin Gibb’s “nasal rendition” of Massachusetts “evoked a human bagpipe” in contrast to Barry Gibb’s voice which sounded like a “chipmunk on helium”.

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The first two or three months of 2007 represent a dangerous opening for an escalation of war in the Middle East, as George W. Bush will be tempted to “double-down” his gamble in Iraq by joining with Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair to strike at Syria and Iran, intelligence sources say.

President Bush’s goal would be to transcend the bloody quagmire bogging down U.S. forces in Iraq by achieving “regime change” in Syria and by destroying nuclear facilities in Iran, two blows intended to weaken Islamic militants in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli army and air force would carry the brunt of any new fighting albeit with the support of beefed-up U.S. ground and naval forces in the Middle East, the sources said. Bush is now considering a “surge” in U.S. troop levels in Iraq from about 140,000 to as many as 170,000. He also has dispatched a second aircraft carrier group to the coast of Iran.

So far, however, Bush has confronted stiff opposition from the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to the plan for raising troop levels in Iraq, partly because the generals don’t think it makes sense to commit more troops without a specific military mission.

But it’s unclear how much the generals know about the expanded-war option which has been discussed sometimes in one-on-one meetings among the principals – Bush, Olmert and Blair – according to intelligence sources.

Since the Nov. 7 congressional elections, the three leaders have conducted a round-robin of meetings that on the surface seem to have little purpose. Olmert met privately with Bush on Nov. 13; Blair visited the White House on Dec. 7; and Blair conferred with Olmert in Israel on Dec. 18.

All three leaders could salvage their reputations if a wider war broke out in the Middle East and then broke in their favor...

In early 2007, the revival of this neoconservative strategy of using the Israeli military to oust the Syrian government and to inflict damage on Iran’s nuclear program may represent a last-ditch – and high-risk – gamble by Bush and the neocons to salvage their historic legacy.

If that is the case, then Bush will approve “the surge” in U.S. forces into Iraq, which likely will be followed by some provocation that can be blamed on Syria or Iran, thus justifying the expanded war.

Betting the lives of American soldiers and countless civilians across the Middle East, Bush will follow the age-old adage of gambling addicts: in for a dime, in for a dollar.

http://consortiumnews.com/2006/122006.html

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I read your interesting analysis earlier Robert. Frightening and plasuible.

It's direct relevance to this topic is unclear to me - except insofar as Blair is one of the 'Gang of Three'.

However, I do believe the scenario you outline merits its own thread in the forum.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In his autobiography, written before his early death, Robin Cook wrote: “I came to learn that the chairman of BAE (Sir Dick Evans) appeared to have the key to the garden door to No. 10. Certainly I never knew No 10 to come up with any decision that would be incommoding to BAE.”

In his diary Cook remarks on how in December, 2001, Tony Blair lobbied very strongly for a BAE arms deal involving a military radar system with the government in Tanzania. So did the MOD. Cook pointed out that Clare Short (Overseas Development) seemed to think that the deal was corrupt: “Clare… reads all the telegrams and knows what is happening.”

Blair put Jack Straw (Foreign Secretary) and Patricia Hewitt (DTI) under pressure to agree the deal. Only Gordon Brown joined Cook and Short in arguing against the deal.

The contract was worth $40m. Short argued that the system was overpriced and unnecessary. She also pointed out that Tanzania was one of the world’s poorest countries and could not afford to spend money on this system.

The Guardian disclosed today that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has discovered a secret Swiss bank account owned by BAE Systems. Sailesh Vithlani, a Tanzanian middle-man has confessed that BAE paid $12m in commission via this account. He claims that he made no disbursements from this account to public officials “in Tanzania”. It is not known who this money went to other than it was to people living outside of Tanzania.

Short is quoted in the Guardian today as saying that Blair was “personally responsible for forcing the licence for the Tanzania deal through the cabinet. No 10 insisted on letting this go ahead, when it stank. It was always obvious that this useless project was corrupt.”

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The Serious Fraud Office is also looking at a BAE Systems contracts with the South African government. BAE created an offshore front company, Red Diamond. It also established a highly secret unit within BAE called HQ Marketing. Between 2000 and 2005, South African agents received over £70m through Red Diamond and over £6m and through HQ Marketing. Four senior BAE executives are being investigated, including former chairman, Sir Dick Evans, its chief executive, Mike Turner, its marketing director, Mike Rouse and Julia Aldridge, also from the marketing department.

In his autobiography, Robin Cook wrote: “I came to learn that the chairman of BAE (Sir Dick Evans) appeared to have the key to the garden door to No. 10. Certainly I never knew No 10 to come up with any decision that would be incommoding to BAE.”

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A key Downing Street aide was arrested by police at 6.30 this morning. Ruth Turner, director of government relations, was arrested at her home in London under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 and also on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. Police said that she was interviewed at a London police station and bailed to return at a later date "pending further enquiries".

The charge of perverting the course of justice is an interesting one. I believe it refers to the destroying of documents concerning the cash for honours scandal. I wonder who she was doing that for?

So far four people have been arrested concerning this matter. Lord Levy, the Labour Party's chief fundraiser, Labour donor Sir Christopher Evans and head teacher Des Smith, who was involved in the government's City Academy programme. Ruth Turner is the first one who works at 10 Downing Street.

Ruth Turner has now retained her own legal counsel, rather than using the Labour party's in-house counsel. A clear sign that her interests and her master's interests have diverged.

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On Thursday the Blair government was severely criticised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for its decision to terminate the Serious Fraud Office’s inquiry into allegations that BAE paid bribes to Saudi royals. Representatives from 35 countries expressed “serious concerns” about the behaviour of Tony Blair. Britain has been given two months to provide further explanations before the OECD decides what to do about the matter.

Officials from America and France are especially upset because their countries have been trying to enforce OECD’s anti-bribery policies. In doing so, they have been losing contracts to Britain.

A more important development is the admission from Sir John Scarlett, the head of M16, that he never possessed intelligence that Saudi Arabia planned to cut security links with Britain over the BAE Systems investigation. Once again, Blair has been caught lying about what he was told by the intelligence services. As these are “state secrets” Blair assumes he can lie about these matters without getting caught. As with WMD in Iraq, the truth sometimes emerges and Blair is exposed for being a xxxx.

Blair has had a fairly easy ride so far in the UK over this issue. Blair is being portrayed as being someone willing to lie and break the law in order to obtain jobs at BAE Systems for the British people. In today's world this appears to be morally acceptable. However, that is not the real issue. The termination of the SFO investigation is not to protect corrupt Saudi officials, but to protect BAE executives. The investigation into BAE’s Swiss bank accounts shows that a large amount of this slush fund has arrived back into Britain. Some of this could have gone to people working for BAE. An interesting question is what happened after that. Did it go to the people who gave the deal government approval? Did it go to the people who have tried to cover-up the corruption at BAE? If so, that money would have found its way to Tony Blair and the Labour Party. Is it BAE that has really been providing donations and loans to the Labour Party?

We know from the investigations into the BAE deals with Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and South Africa, that the company uses front organizations to pay the bribes. Has BAE been using the same system to provide money to the Labour Party? Does this explain the confusion of Lord Sainsbury when he could not remember paying large sums to the party? It is also necessary to keep a close watch on Blair after he leaves office. It will be necessary for journalists to investigate who is really paying for Blair’s lucrative lecture tours in the United States. They should also take a close look into the financial accounts of Cherrie Blair.

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