Jump to content

Tony Blair and BAE Systems


John Simkin
 Share

Recommended Posts

BAE, Baroness Symons, In Black Operations Against LaRouche

by Anton Chaitkin

http://www.larouchepac.com/pages/breaking_...ns_Blackops.asp

As documented in the widely circulating broadside, "BAE Scandal Demands Cheney's Immediate Impeachment" (see lead article in this section) Vice President Dick Cheney attempted to bury the BAE scandal in both Britain and the United States, precisely because investigation of this $80-100 billion British/Saudi slush fund could reveal the authors of very "black" Anglo-American covert intelligence operations, amongst them 9/11. According to British and other news accounts, Cheney prevailed upon Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.K. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to shut down the British Serious Fraud Office's investigation of BAE, on "national security" grounds.

Ongoing investigations also shed new light on the role of Cheney crony Baroness Elizabeth Symons in covering up the BAE operation and in British black propaganda attacks on Cheney's leading U.S. political antagonist, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. Based on this background, it is hardly remarkable that Symons baldly proclaimed to Reuters news agency on Feb. 27, 2007, that the British criminal investigation of BAE was shut down because there was no evidence of bribery—"the reason they did not find anything is because there was nothing to find." Symons' attempt to bury the matter occurred just at the time that the cries of "coverup" were reaching a crescendo in the British press, and major investigations of BAE were developing internationally.

Elizabeth Symons was one of a handful of political operatives who shaped the 1990s rise of Tony Blair's New Labour as a poorly disguised Thatcherism. Her father, Ernest Vize Symons, had been director-general of the U.K. tax department (Inland Revenue), and a governor of the English-Speaking Union, which sought to reunite the U.S.A. with the British Empire. When her father retired in 1979, Elizabeth began working in the trade union division of the Inland Revenue, and later in other unions, in an effort to emasculate the unions and separate them from political power.

In 1996, Tony Blair nominated Symons for a life peerage for having helped create a labor-free Labour Party. By this time, Symons had long been a Fellow of the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, a project to tie together British and American defense and secret services strategists. (This was begun by Sir Charles Villiers in 1985, when his son-in-law, John Negroponte, now U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, was boosting the Contras as Ambassador to Honduras.)

As Prime Minister in 1997, Blair appointed Baroness Symons to the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office. Symons represented the Foreign Office in the House of Lords in March 1998, when she was questioned about the coup and countercoup in Sierra Leone in West Africa. Executive Outcomes, a mercenary group tied to the British Crown, had moved a protection racket into Sierra Leone in 1993, taking its payoff in diamonds. When Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was elected President of the country in 1996, he acted on the encouragement of U.S. President Bill Clinton to cancel the British mercenaries' contract, despite the Executive Outcomes threat that he would be overthrown.

A military coup then removed Kabbah; British High Commissioner Peter Penfold, in exile with Kabbah, successfully urged him to hire Sandline, Executive Outcomes' partner mercenary company. Sandline shipped in 30 tons of arms, contravening the United Nations sanctions on arms to that civil-war-devastated country.

Sandline had fully informed the Foreign Office, and others in the Anglo-American black-operations chain of command. A Foreign Office official had told BBC on March 9, 1998, that Baroness Symons was in the circles that had been briefed on the transactions, and that she knew of the ongoing criminal investigation by British law enforcement.

On March 10, 1998, Lord Avebury, a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords, asked Baroness Symons on the official record, would she investigate press reports that "the future diamond resources of the country have been mortgaged in an illegal arms transaction in which a British company, Sandline International, was involved?"

Symons denied all, obfuscating that "the newspaper article to which the noble Lord refers ... was in several respects not entirely accurate, or at least not on all fours with the reports that Her Majesty's Government are receiving." There were then calls for Symons' resignation, which Blair rebuffed. As BBC reported the same day: "The Prime Minister has leaped to the defence of foreign office minister Baroness Symons, at the centre of allegations that she misled parliament over the arms-to-Africa affair. Tony Blair told MPs ... that he had not asked her to resign and said there was 'not a shred of evidence' that she ... had deliberately misled anyone."

In 2000, Dick Cheney, chairman and CEO of the Halliburton oil services company of Houston, Texas, and candidate for Vice President, was the American co-chairman of a British conference held April 14-16, on the subject of privatizing the British and American armed forces. This was the special project of Baroness Symons, whom Blair had appointed in 1999 as Minister for Procurement in the Ministry of Defence. The conference was attended by all the main Ministry of Defence officials working to implement her plans for military "Public Private Partnerships," the "Smart Acquisition" initiative, and the "Private Finance Initiative." The event was sponsored by the Rand Corporation, and hosted by the Ditchley Foundation, an Anglo-American power elite group in which Baroness Symons is a trustee and governor.

In his opening remarks to the conference, Cheney referred to his own leadership, first, as Defense Secretary (1989-93), in scheming to have private companies and mercenary soldiers usurp the traditional national military function, and then, steering his Halliburton company to play that role. Cheney said: "I have approached the question of privatization of defense support services from several different perspectives: first as a member of Congress, then as Secretary of Defense, and currently as chairman and chief executive officer of Halliburton." He noted that "our British colleagues are far ahead of us in ... successful privatization efforts." Cheney complained that a "challenge for DoD [Department of Defense] is to develop a strategy for countering political resistance. This conference ... provides a tremendous opportunity for us to share experiences, and to learn how the U.S. might take advantage of the concepts and principles that are embodied in the U.K. experience."

Cheney's personal appearance in England at just that moment coincided with Baroness Symons' first planned big privatization: Martin Kitterick, a Defence Ministry consultant on Symons' "Private Finance Initiative," spoke to the conference on the scheme to turn transport of battle tanks over to private companies' trucks and drivers, a contract that Halliburton wanted.

On April 17, 2000, the day after the Cheney-Ditchley conference, the Ministry of Defence announced Baroness Symons' plan for privatizing the British government's giant Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. Baroness Symons then led the parliamentary debate on the plan, reassuring the Lords that she was working closely with the Americans.

After the Supreme Court decision of Dec. 12, 2000, Dick Cheney was designated as Vice President and George W. Bush as President of the United States, to take office Jan. 20, 2001.

The announcement by Baroness Symons, that a consortium headed by the Halliburton company was awarded the £300 million contract to privatize military heavy transport, was graciously delayed until Jan. 24, after the inauguration. Cheney was then presumed to be out of the company, although his Halliburton stock options and continuing compensation became an increasingly heated Washington topic. While Cheney was in England, another British contract went up for grabs. The U.S. Lockheed Martin Corporation was bidding for the Joint Strike Fighter program. In 1994, just after Dick Cheney had taken the helm at Halliburton, his wife, Lynne, had become a Lockheed director, serving on the board's Finance, Nominating, and Corporate Governance committees. Lynne Cheney stepped down from the Lockheed board on Jan. 5, 2000.

On Jan. 17, just before Dick Cheney took power, Symons was in Washington. At the Pentagon she ceremonially signed Britain's commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter program. This Anglo-American venture was labelled "the largest defense procurement program ever conceived." The Defence Ministry announcement awarding British funds to Lockheed in the Joint Strike Fighter program came in October 2001, at a decent time interval from the Halliburton announcement.

On June 11, 2001, Baroness Symons moved out of the Defence Ministry, becoming simultaneously Minister of State for the Middle East, in the Foreign Office, and Minister of State for Trade, in the Department of Trade and Industry.

On July 1, 2001, just after Symons' departure from Defence, the shape of her overall scheme for a private power-and-money grab came before the public. The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency was split into a huge private firm, to be called QinetiQ, and a smaller residual government agency. In the next year, the Blair government shocked some people with the announcement that the Carlyle Group—the private equity fund tied tightly to the Bush family—was to be awarded a large stake in QinetiQ, the "public private partnership." On Feb. 28, 2003, less than a month before the Cheney-Blair-Bush invasion of Iraq, the Carlyle group paid £42.3 million for a 34% holding in QinetiQ. When a large block of QinetiQ stock shares was later put on the public market, the Carlyle Group got about an eight-fold return on its investment. Among those reaping gold from Baroness Symons' planning was former Tory Prime Minister John Major, who had become European Chairman of the Carlyle Group while Baroness Symons was Minister for Defence Procurement.

Baroness Symons' own machinations on behalf of BAE Systems began surfacing in 2005, when the Observer newspaper described her earlier intervention with her Washington circles. This had been in the Summer of 2002, when Cheney was driving hard for war with Iraq.

The story, as told by the British media, is that, at a dinner given by a neo-conservative professor, the Baroness sat next to Attorney David Mills, husband of Tessa Jowell, Blair's Minister of Culture, Media, and Sport. Mills had arranged a $200 million deal with BAE Systems for the Iranian company Mahan Air to buy a fleet of passenger jets. Mills asked Symons to use her influence in Washington to get around the U.S. sanctions law that would penalize a company doing that kind of business with Iran.

On July 9, 2002, ten days after the dinner, Mills wrote to Symons that "BAE will sell or lease as the case may be to [name redacted], a company incorporated in the UAE [united Arab Emirates] and majority-owned by UAE citizens for which I act. It is a condition precedent of the deal that there will be no US objection. It is my understanding, however, that the US government operates the embargo with a degree of discretion. I am sure HMG [Her Majesty's Government, that is, the Blair regime] will wish to offer such support as it can to smooth the path with our American friends, and I would be very grateful if you could do what you can to ensure that BAE get the help they will ... need."

Baroness Symons wrote back to Mills, "Given the obvious political sensitivities you will need to tread very carefully with this one. This is a difficult time to be raising Iran policy in Washington. The advice I have been given, with which I am inclined to agree, is that our official support for you with the administration would raise the profile of the case and, by so doing, increase the chance of eliciting a negative response. So you will need to think very carefully about a lobbying strategy calibrated to achieve the right result. I am pleased that Allan Flood [the BAE Systems director] will be in Washington next week and that he will be calling on the embassy to discuss this further. They are best placed to advise on next steps."

Nothing happened to the Baroness when this was published; David Mills was subsequently charged with money laundering and tax crimes (indicted July 2006) as a cohort of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an ally of the Cheney-Blair-Bush war axis. That August, Dick Cheney was raving that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear bomb capability. The same theme was rattling around the Prime Minister's office, where Baroness Symons' husband, Phil Bassett, was a longtime Blair aide. From September 2002 until October 2003, Bassett was senior advisor and headed the Strategic Communications Unit at 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister's office. It was there that Bassett helped pull together Blair's Sept. 24, 2002 "Big Lie" dossier claiming that Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction" ready to launch at 45 minutes' notice.

Bassett and government Press Secretary Alastair Campbell went to Washington in October 2002, to coordinate strategy for lying about the Iraq danger. With the White House, they established the Coalition Information Centre, which Tucker Eskew, Deputy Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Communications, then went to London to implement with Bassett and Campbell. This apparatus and MI6 continued to produce falsified Iraq intelligence as a pretext for war.

Then a factional brawl broke out in London and in the United States, with intensified opposition in leading circles against the Cheney-Blair Iraq War.

On April 3, 2003, two weeks after the start of the war, BBC interviewed Lyndon LaRouche on the "Live Five" show for six minutes, introducing him as a leading critic of the Iraq War policy, and as a candidate for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination. Two days earlier, the LaRouche campaign had released a quarter-million-run pamphlet, "Children of Satan: The 'Ignoble Liars' Behind Bush's No-Exit War." On June 9, 2003, BBC's "Live Five" interviewed LaRouche again, this time for 12 minutes, on LaRouche's recent call for Cheney's impeachment and on Cheney's role in faking Iraq intelligence—faking that Blair, Campbell, and Bassett had also done. In between these two LaRouche interviews, BBC ran two stories (May 29 and June 2), using leading British government weapons scientist Dr. David Kelly as its source, charging that the propaganda team in Tony Blair's office had "sexed up" their Iraq-weapons dossier to make a better excuse for war. After being bullied during interrogation by Blair-controlled members of Parliament, Dr. David Kelly turned up dead, an alleged suicide.

The counterattack by the Blair-Cheney gang also aimed directly at LaRouche. In March 2003, Jeremiah Duggan, a British student studying abroad, committed suicide while in attendance at a Schiller Institute conference in Germany. The Schiller Institute has long been associated with the international economic development proposals of Lyndon Larouche and Helga Zepp-LaRouche. German police and prosecutors thoroughly investigated Duggan's death and ruled it a suicide.

Baroness Symons, however, met on April 1, 2004 with Erica Duggan, Jeremiah's mother, announcing that she would appoint a lawyer to work with the Duggan family to pressure German authorities to reverse their assessment of the case. What has followed has been a lurid international propaganda campaign, alleging that Jeremiah was murdered or terrorized to death, without a scintilla of factual evidence contradicting the German findings. The latest twist in the Symons-steered crusade is the Spring 2007 introduction of a resolution in the House of Commons, agitating for a new British investigation into the death of Jeremiah Duggan.

Since leaving her ministerial posts in 2005, Baroness Symons has been Tony Blair's Special Envoy to the Middle East, and to Saudi Arabia, standing as an inner-circle guard for the British-Cheney-Bandar relationship, and, by extension, the lucrative Al-Yamamah project. She is chairman of the British-Saudi Business Council, and vice president of the Middle East Association.

From her station in the House of Lords, she has chaired the all-party group on Qatar. That tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, bordering on Saudi Arabia, has just set up the Qatar Financial Centre, a projected speculators' paradise modelled on the City of London financial district. The BAE Systems company, shaken by mushrooming scandal and facing several potential U.S. investigations, has reached into Qatar to give itself hoped-for credibility. Lord Harry Woolf, the former Chief Justice of England, now works as "chief judge" in the Qatar Financial Centre, alongside Tony Blair's brother, attorney William Blair, who heads the Centre's regulatory body. BAE Systems has hired the Qatar-based Lord Woolf to head a panel of experts to decide whether the company is completely ethical, or needs sprucing up. On June 28, the Qatar Financial Centre sponsored a conference on the potential uses of the sea of money now washing through the hands of Britain's Persian Gulf clients. Baroness Symons was scheduled to chair the meeting.

Now officially in private life, although still Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia, and so on, the Baroness is a paid consultant to the Anglo-American law firm DLA Piper, long the attorneys for Halliburton. Recently her London DLA Piper office has been home base to Michael Lester, who had been general counsel and a director of BAE Systems from the year (1999) that Symons became Minister for Defence Procurement. He had been responsible for BAE's "ethical policies and principles." Lester's entry into Baroness Symons' firm was announced on Dec. 16, 2006—the day after the Serious Fraud Office dropped its investigation of BAE Systems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 66
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

BAE, Baroness Symons, In Black Operations Against LaRouche

by Anton Chaitkin

http://www.larouchepac.com/pages/breaking_...ns_Blackops.asp

As documented in the widely circulating broadside, "BAE Scandal Demands Cheney's Immediate Impeachment" (see lead article in this section) Vice President Dick Cheney attempted to bury the BAE scandal in both Britain and the United States, precisely because investigation of this $80-100 billion British/Saudi slush fund could reveal the authors of very "black" Anglo-American covert intelligence operations, amongst them 9/11. According to British and other news accounts, Cheney prevailed upon Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.K. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to shut down the British Serious Fraud Office's investigation of BAE, on "national security" grounds.

Ongoing investigations also shed new light on the role of Cheney crony Baroness Elizabeth Symons in covering up the BAE operation and in British black propaganda attacks on Cheney's leading U.S. political antagonist, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. Based on this background, it is hardly remarkable that Symons baldly proclaimed to Reuters news agency on Feb. 27, 2007, that the British criminal investigation of BAE was shut down because there was no evidence of bribery—"the reason they did not find anything is because there was nothing to find." Symons' attempt to bury the matter occurred just at the time that the cries of "coverup" were reaching a crescendo in the British press, and major investigations of BAE were developing internationally.

Elizabeth Symons was one of a handful of political operatives who shaped the 1990s rise of Tony Blair's New Labour as a poorly disguised Thatcherism. Her father, Ernest Vize Symons, had been director-general of the U.K. tax department (Inland Revenue), and a governor of the English-Speaking Union, which sought to reunite the U.S.A. with the British Empire. When her father retired in 1979, Elizabeth began working in the trade union division of the Inland Revenue, and later in other unions, in an effort to emasculate the unions and separate them from political power.

In 1996, Tony Blair nominated Symons for a life peerage for having helped create a labor-free Labour Party. By this time, Symons had long been a Fellow of the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, a project to tie together British and American defense and secret services strategists. (This was begun by Sir Charles Villiers in 1985, when his son-in-law, John Negroponte, now U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, was boosting the Contras as Ambassador to Honduras.)

As Prime Minister in 1997, Blair appointed Baroness Symons to the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office. Symons represented the Foreign Office in the House of Lords in March 1998, when she was questioned about the coup and countercoup in Sierra Leone in West Africa. Executive Outcomes, a mercenary group tied to the British Crown, had moved a protection racket into Sierra Leone in 1993, taking its payoff in diamonds. When Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was elected President of the country in 1996, he acted on the encouragement of U.S. President Bill Clinton to cancel the British mercenaries' contract, despite the Executive Outcomes threat that he would be overthrown.

A military coup then removed Kabbah; British High Commissioner Peter Penfold, in exile with Kabbah, successfully urged him to hire Sandline, Executive Outcomes' partner mercenary company. Sandline shipped in 30 tons of arms, contravening the United Nations sanctions on arms to that civil-war-devastated country.

Sandline had fully informed the Foreign Office, and others in the Anglo-American black-operations chain of command. A Foreign Office official had told BBC on March 9, 1998, that Baroness Symons was in the circles that had been briefed on the transactions, and that she knew of the ongoing criminal investigation by British law enforcement.

On March 10, 1998, Lord Avebury, a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords, asked Baroness Symons on the official record, would she investigate press reports that "the future diamond resources of the country have been mortgaged in an illegal arms transaction in which a British company, Sandline International, was involved?"

Symons denied all, obfuscating that "the newspaper article to which the noble Lord refers ... was in several respects not entirely accurate, or at least not on all fours with the reports that Her Majesty's Government are receiving." There were then calls for Symons' resignation, which Blair rebuffed. As BBC reported the same day: "The Prime Minister has leaped to the defence of foreign office minister Baroness Symons, at the centre of allegations that she misled parliament over the arms-to-Africa affair. Tony Blair told MPs ... that he had not asked her to resign and said there was 'not a shred of evidence' that she ... had deliberately misled anyone."

In 2000, Dick Cheney, chairman and CEO of the Halliburton oil services company of Houston, Texas, and candidate for Vice President, was the American co-chairman of a British conference held April 14-16, on the subject of privatizing the British and American armed forces. This was the special project of Baroness Symons, whom Blair had appointed in 1999 as Minister for Procurement in the Ministry of Defence. The conference was attended by all the main Ministry of Defence officials working to implement her plans for military "Public Private Partnerships," the "Smart Acquisition" initiative, and the "Private Finance Initiative." The event was sponsored by the Rand Corporation, and hosted by the Ditchley Foundation, an Anglo-American power elite group in which Baroness Symons is a trustee and governor.

In his opening remarks to the conference, Cheney referred to his own leadership, first, as Defense Secretary (1989-93), in scheming to have private companies and mercenary soldiers usurp the traditional national military function, and then, steering his Halliburton company to play that role. Cheney said: "I have approached the question of privatization of defense support services from several different perspectives: first as a member of Congress, then as Secretary of Defense, and currently as chairman and chief executive officer of Halliburton." He noted that "our British colleagues are far ahead of us in ... successful privatization efforts." Cheney complained that a "challenge for DoD [Department of Defense] is to develop a strategy for countering political resistance. This conference ... provides a tremendous opportunity for us to share experiences, and to learn how the U.S. might take advantage of the concepts and principles that are embodied in the U.K. experience."

Cheney's personal appearance in England at just that moment coincided with Baroness Symons' first planned big privatization: Martin Kitterick, a Defence Ministry consultant on Symons' "Private Finance Initiative," spoke to the conference on the scheme to turn transport of battle tanks over to private companies' trucks and drivers, a contract that Halliburton wanted.

On April 17, 2000, the day after the Cheney-Ditchley conference, the Ministry of Defence announced Baroness Symons' plan for privatizing the British government's giant Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. Baroness Symons then led the parliamentary debate on the plan, reassuring the Lords that she was working closely with the Americans.

After the Supreme Court decision of Dec. 12, 2000, Dick Cheney was designated as Vice President and George W. Bush as President of the United States, to take office Jan. 20, 2001.

The announcement by Baroness Symons, that a consortium headed by the Halliburton company was awarded the £300 million contract to privatize military heavy transport, was graciously delayed until Jan. 24, after the inauguration. Cheney was then presumed to be out of the company, although his Halliburton stock options and continuing compensation became an increasingly heated Washington topic. While Cheney was in England, another British contract went up for grabs. The U.S. Lockheed Martin Corporation was bidding for the Joint Strike Fighter program. In 1994, just after Dick Cheney had taken the helm at Halliburton, his wife, Lynne, had become a Lockheed director, serving on the board's Finance, Nominating, and Corporate Governance committees. Lynne Cheney stepped down from the Lockheed board on Jan. 5, 2000.

On Jan. 17, just before Dick Cheney took power, Symons was in Washington. At the Pentagon she ceremonially signed Britain's commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter program. This Anglo-American venture was labelled "the largest defense procurement program ever conceived." The Defence Ministry announcement awarding British funds to Lockheed in the Joint Strike Fighter program came in October 2001, at a decent time interval from the Halliburton announcement.

On June 11, 2001, Baroness Symons moved out of the Defence Ministry, becoming simultaneously Minister of State for the Middle East, in the Foreign Office, and Minister of State for Trade, in the Department of Trade and Industry.

On July 1, 2001, just after Symons' departure from Defence, the shape of her overall scheme for a private power-and-money grab came before the public. The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency was split into a huge private firm, to be called QinetiQ, and a smaller residual government agency. In the next year, the Blair government shocked some people with the announcement that the Carlyle Group—the private equity fund tied tightly to the Bush family—was to be awarded a large stake in QinetiQ, the "public private partnership." On Feb. 28, 2003, less than a month before the Cheney-Blair-Bush invasion of Iraq, the Carlyle group paid £42.3 million for a 34% holding in QinetiQ. When a large block of QinetiQ stock shares was later put on the public market, the Carlyle Group got about an eight-fold return on its investment. Among those reaping gold from Baroness Symons' planning was former Tory Prime Minister John Major, who had become European Chairman of the Carlyle Group while Baroness Symons was Minister for Defence Procurement.

Baroness Symons' own machinations on behalf of BAE Systems began surfacing in 2005, when the Observer newspaper described her earlier intervention with her Washington circles. This had been in the Summer of 2002, when Cheney was driving hard for war with Iraq.

The story, as told by the British media, is that, at a dinner given by a neo-conservative professor, the Baroness sat next to Attorney David Mills, husband of Tessa Jowell, Blair's Minister of Culture, Media, and Sport. Mills had arranged a $200 million deal with BAE Systems for the Iranian company Mahan Air to buy a fleet of passenger jets. Mills asked Symons to use her influence in Washington to get around the U.S. sanctions law that would penalize a company doing that kind of business with Iran.

On July 9, 2002, ten days after the dinner, Mills wrote to Symons that "BAE will sell or lease as the case may be to [name redacted], a company incorporated in the UAE [united Arab Emirates] and majority-owned by UAE citizens for which I act. It is a condition precedent of the deal that there will be no US objection. It is my understanding, however, that the US government operates the embargo with a degree of discretion. I am sure HMG [Her Majesty's Government, that is, the Blair regime] will wish to offer such support as it can to smooth the path with our American friends, and I would be very grateful if you could do what you can to ensure that BAE get the help they will ... need."

Baroness Symons wrote back to Mills, "Given the obvious political sensitivities you will need to tread very carefully with this one. This is a difficult time to be raising Iran policy in Washington. The advice I have been given, with which I am inclined to agree, is that our official support for you with the administration would raise the profile of the case and, by so doing, increase the chance of eliciting a negative response. So you will need to think very carefully about a lobbying strategy calibrated to achieve the right result. I am pleased that Allan Flood [the BAE Systems director] will be in Washington next week and that he will be calling on the embassy to discuss this further. They are best placed to advise on next steps."

Nothing happened to the Baroness when this was published; David Mills was subsequently charged with money laundering and tax crimes (indicted July 2006) as a cohort of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an ally of the Cheney-Blair-Bush war axis. That August, Dick Cheney was raving that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear bomb capability. The same theme was rattling around the Prime Minister's office, where Baroness Symons' husband, Phil Bassett, was a longtime Blair aide. From September 2002 until October 2003, Bassett was senior advisor and headed the Strategic Communications Unit at 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister's office. It was there that Bassett helped pull together Blair's Sept. 24, 2002 "Big Lie" dossier claiming that Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction" ready to launch at 45 minutes' notice.

Bassett and government Press Secretary Alastair Campbell went to Washington in October 2002, to coordinate strategy for lying about the Iraq danger. With the White House, they established the Coalition Information Centre, which Tucker Eskew, Deputy Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Communications, then went to London to implement with Bassett and Campbell. This apparatus and MI6 continued to produce falsified Iraq intelligence as a pretext for war.

Then a factional brawl broke out in London and in the United States, with intensified opposition in leading circles against the Cheney-Blair Iraq War.

On April 3, 2003, two weeks after the start of the war, BBC interviewed Lyndon LaRouche on the "Live Five" show for six minutes, introducing him as a leading critic of the Iraq War policy, and as a candidate for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination. Two days earlier, the LaRouche campaign had released a quarter-million-run pamphlet, "Children of Satan: The 'Ignoble Liars' Behind Bush's No-Exit War." On June 9, 2003, BBC's "Live Five" interviewed LaRouche again, this time for 12 minutes, on LaRouche's recent call for Cheney's impeachment and on Cheney's role in faking Iraq intelligence—faking that Blair, Campbell, and Bassett had also done. In between these two LaRouche interviews, BBC ran two stories (May 29 and June 2), using leading British government weapons scientist Dr. David Kelly as its source, charging that the propaganda team in Tony Blair's office had "sexed up" their Iraq-weapons dossier to make a better excuse for war. After being bullied during interrogation by Blair-controlled members of Parliament, Dr. David Kelly turned up dead, an alleged suicide.

The counterattack by the Blair-Cheney gang also aimed directly at LaRouche. In March 2003, Jeremiah Duggan, a British student studying abroad, committed suicide while in attendance at a Schiller Institute conference in Germany. The Schiller Institute has long been associated with the international economic development proposals of Lyndon Larouche and Helga Zepp-LaRouche. German police and prosecutors thoroughly investigated Duggan's death and ruled it a suicide.

Baroness Symons, however, met on April 1, 2004 with Erica Duggan, Jeremiah's mother, announcing that she would appoint a lawyer to work with the Duggan family to pressure German authorities to reverse their assessment of the case. What has followed has been a lurid international propaganda campaign, alleging that Jeremiah was murdered or terrorized to death, without a scintilla of factual evidence contradicting the German findings. The latest twist in the Symons-steered crusade is the Spring 2007 introduction of a resolution in the House of Commons, agitating for a new British investigation into the death of Jeremiah Duggan.

Since leaving her ministerial posts in 2005, Baroness Symons has been Tony Blair's Special Envoy to the Middle East, and to Saudi Arabia, standing as an inner-circle guard for the British-Cheney-Bandar relationship, and, by extension, the lucrative Al-Yamamah project. She is chairman of the British-Saudi Business Council, and vice president of the Middle East Association.

From her station in the House of Lords, she has chaired the all-party group on Qatar. That tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, bordering on Saudi Arabia, has just set up the Qatar Financial Centre, a projected speculators' paradise modelled on the City of London financial district. The BAE Systems company, shaken by mushrooming scandal and facing several potential U.S. investigations, has reached into Qatar to give itself hoped-for credibility. Lord Harry Woolf, the former Chief Justice of England, now works as "chief judge" in the Qatar Financial Centre, alongside Tony Blair's brother, attorney William Blair, who heads the Centre's regulatory body. BAE Systems has hired the Qatar-based Lord Woolf to head a panel of experts to decide whether the company is completely ethical, or needs sprucing up. On June 28, the Qatar Financial Centre sponsored a conference on the potential uses of the sea of money now washing through the hands of Britain's Persian Gulf clients. Baroness Symons was scheduled to chair the meeting.

Now officially in private life, although still Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia, and so on, the Baroness is a paid consultant to the Anglo-American law firm DLA Piper, long the attorneys for Halliburton. Recently her London DLA Piper office has been home base to Michael Lester, who had been general counsel and a director of BAE Systems from the year (1999) that Symons became Minister for Defence Procurement. He had been responsible for BAE's "ethical policies and principles." Lester's entry into Baroness Symons' firm was announced on Dec. 16, 2006—the day after the Serious Fraud Office dropped its investigation of BAE Systems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robert Cummings has emailed me with details of his article in this month's Playboy. I highly recommend reading the complete article that can be found here:

http://www.playboy.com/magazine/features/lockheed/index.html

Bush couldn't go into Iraq without a major ally and Lockheed knew it. To sweeten the pot for Blair, Lockheed dragged BAE Systems into the F-35 deal. When BAE still struggled prior to the war (Goldman Sachs reported that BAE would have to cut its dividend), Lockheed began renegotiating the contract -- with the new version unveiled in 2005, giving BAE billions more to be paid "as needed." This put BAE back on its feet, able to build the Typhoon jet fighter for sale to Saudi Arabia in a $70 billion deal, saving 10,000 BAE jobs and 4,000 Rolls-Royce jet engine building jobs.

Meanwhile, a government accountability office report for Congress says the Defense Department is investing too heavily in the F-35 without knowing whether the aircraft will work properly. The report criticizes the Pentagon plan to spend $49 billion on 424 fighters before full testing on the stealth plane is completed in 2013. "Starting production before ensuring the design is mature through flight testing significantly increases the risk of costly design change that will push the program over budget and behind schedule," the report concludes. But that is all light years away, as far as Lockheed and BAE are concerned. As Bob Elrod, a senior executive at Lockheed's fighter plane division boasted, "We're looking at world domination of the market."

To make things even better for Blair, Lockheed brought the British in on the new presidential helicopter deal, notwithstanding the loud protests of then-Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman from Connecticut, where Sikorsky -- America's leading helicopter manufacturer and the losing bidder -- is located.

Meanwhile Jackson closed down the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in June 2003 because its human rights rationale for the war had been abandoned.

"We were cut out," Jackson explains, "after the whole thing went to Rumsfeld. The Department of Defense didn't want anyone looking over their shoulder. Rumsfeld took it all away from State." Jackson had lined up people like Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Natan Sharansky of Israel and Carl Bildt, the prime minister of Sweden, to support the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, but Bush and Rumsfeld took off in another direction. Stephen Hadley explained to Jackson that "terrorism and WMDs" were now the rationale for the war, not human rights.

News of torture at Abu Ghraib prison undermined all of Jackson's efforts and, to his credit, he called for Rumsfeld's resignation. He acknowledges that things are not going well in Iraq, but still sees the removal of Saddam Hussein as morally justified. He declines to predict how it will all end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robert Cummings has emailed me with details of his article in this month's Playboy. I highly recommend reading the complete article that can be found here:

http://www.playboy.com/magazine/features/lockheed/index.html

Bush couldn't go into Iraq without a major ally and Lockheed knew it. To sweeten the pot for Blair, Lockheed dragged BAE Systems into the F-35 deal. When BAE still struggled prior to the war (Goldman Sachs reported that BAE would have to cut its dividend), Lockheed began renegotiating the contract -- with the new version unveiled in 2005, giving BAE billions more to be paid "as needed." This put BAE back on its feet, able to build the Typhoon jet fighter for sale to Saudi Arabia in a $70 billion deal, saving 10,000 BAE jobs and 4,000 Rolls-Royce jet engine building jobs.

Meanwhile, a government accountability office report for Congress says the Defense Department is investing too heavily in the F-35 without knowing whether the aircraft will work properly. The report criticizes the Pentagon plan to spend $49 billion on 424 fighters before full testing on the stealth plane is completed in 2013. "Starting production before ensuring the design is mature through flight testing significantly increases the risk of costly design change that will push the program over budget and behind schedule," the report concludes. But that is all light years away, as far as Lockheed and BAE are concerned. As Bob Elrod, a senior executive at Lockheed's fighter plane division boasted, "We're looking at world domination of the market."

To make things even better for Blair, Lockheed brought the British in on the new presidential helicopter deal, notwithstanding the loud protests of then-Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman from Connecticut, where Sikorsky -- America's leading helicopter manufacturer and the losing bidder -- is located.

Meanwhile Jackson closed down the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in June 2003 because its human rights rationale for the war had been abandoned.

"We were cut out," Jackson explains, "after the whole thing went to Rumsfeld. The Department of Defense didn't want anyone looking over their shoulder. Rumsfeld took it all away from State." Jackson had lined up people like Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Natan Sharansky of Israel and Carl Bildt, the prime minister of Sweden, to support the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, but Bush and Rumsfeld took off in another direction. Stephen Hadley explained to Jackson that "terrorism and WMDs" were now the rationale for the war, not human rights.

News of torture at Abu Ghraib prison undermined all of Jackson's efforts and, to his credit, he called for Rumsfeld's resignation. He acknowledges that things are not going well in Iraq, but still sees the removal of Saddam Hussein as morally justified. He declines to predict how it will all end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest David Guyatt

I am always pulled in two different directions by the LaRouche mob. On the one hand an awful lot of their research is original and revealing and worth reading. On the other it is done to elevate LaRouche who, in my humble opinion, has a sort of Jesus complex and who should be treated with extreme caution because of that (assuming my personal analysis is valid or accurate).

On Qatar, I wonder if anyone cares to dig around in a project known as "Three Stars"? I know I don't, but other, better financed and protected scribes might want to. In this case, "three" being the designation of three gulf nations, all of whom you can guess, I think. Very smell, methinks.

David

PS, John, have I done something to cause offence or are you just not answering your private messages/ don't wish to participate in harmless wagers?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, have I done something to cause offence or are you just not answering your private messages/ don't wish to participate in harmless wagers?

No, you have not upset me. I went away for a long weekend and have not yet caught up with my emails and PMs. Will try to answer you this afternoon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

The Department of Justice in Washington has formally demanded that Britain hand over all evidence of secret payments that BAE made to members of the Saudi royal family to secure arms deals.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) spent £2m and more than two years amassing documents which showed BAE had transferred £1bn to Washington accounts controlled by Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, and another £1bn to Swiss bank accounts linked to agents acting for Saudi royals. The records include highly classified Ministry of Defence files detailing the government’s involvement in the arms deals. The SFO investigation of the BAE/Saudi arms deals was called off on the orders of Tony Blair late last year.

Lord Drayson, the arms sales minister dealing with this case, is himself someone who should be investigated for corruption. In 2004 the parliamentary ombudsman forced Tony Blair to disclose details of private meetings he has had with commercial lobbyists. This has resulted in the revelation that Blair had a private meeting with Paul Drayson on 6th December, 2001. Soon afterwards two things happened: (1) Drayson donated £100,000 to the Labour Party; (2) Drayson’s company, PowerJect, won a £32 million contract to produce a smallpox vaccine. The most surprising aspect of this contract was that it was not put out to open tender. If it had of been the contract would have gone to a German-Danish company called Bavarian Nordic. It is this company that Drayson has purchased the smallpox vaccine from. It is believed that Drayson paid Bavarian Nordic £12m for the vaccine. In other words his £100,000 investment has resulted in a £20m profit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Chris McGreal in Johannesburg

Tuesday November 13, 2007

The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,2209966,00.html

President Thabo Mbeki was involved in the ruling African National Congress leadership's blocking of a parliamentary investigation into alleged bribery by BAE Systems and other weapons firms in the country's biggest ever arms deal, according to a former MP who was driven out of the ANC for spearheading the inquiry.

Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC member of the parliament's public accounts committee, said the presidency killed off its investigation, pressured the auditor general to change a report criticising the £1.5bn deal to buy planes from BAE as "flawed", and stymied an inquiry by the director of public prosecutions into whether the ruling party accepted bribes to fund its election campaigns. Mbeki has denied blocking the investigations but has characterised them as attempts to bring down his government.

In a new book, After the Party, Feinstein, a Cambridge-trained economist, reveals the extent to which Mbeki was involved in stopping the 2001 investigation.

Feinstein has since moved to London and is cooperating with an inquiry by Britain's Serious Fraud Office into £75m in payments made to the former defence minister, Joe Modise, senior officials in his office and others in South Africa at the time BAE won a contract to supply planes at nearly twice the price of a rival bidder.

Feinstein said investigators uncovered evidence that Modise received at least 10m rand (£713,000) in bribes from BAE and a German weapons firm, but there was paperwork to suggest that up to R35m (£2.5m) in illegal payments had been made to the former defence minister who has since died. "Other key government players in the deal are alleged to have received millions in bribes. In addition, speculation has refused to go away that the ANC received millions of rands from the successful bidders, money that was probably used in our 1999 election campaign," he writes.

Feinstein said his committee's investigation initially had support from powerful ANC figures, but that fell away as the presidency grew concerned to the point of "apoplexy". The first pressure to curb the inquiry came from the ANC's chief whip, Tony Yengeni, who became "intimidating". ANC members of the committee were called before party leaders including Essop Pahad, a minister, who "launched into a ferocious diatribe". "Who the xxxx do you think you are, questioning the integrity of the government, ministers and the president?" he said.

Yengeni sacked Feinstein and told other members that "the ANC, from the president downwards, will now exercise political control". Yengeni was later convicted of accepting bribes from a German arms manufacturer, after the press exposed the dealings, and was jailed for four years. He was freed after just four months.

The final public accounts committee report said there was no evidence of irregularities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

We now know that Blair lied about the decision to bring an end to the police investigation of the BAE System scandal. The letter from Mr Blair to Lord Goldsmith dated 8 December 2006 was released to the High Court during a case brought by two pressure groups who are challenging the legality of the decision to end investigations into BAE Systems' dealings with Saudi Arabia.

There was uproar when the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into the Al Yamamah contract from the 1980s was dropped, but Mr Blair insisted the decision was taken on security grounds and was not linked to commercial interests. Yet the letter shows that was not the case. In the letter Blair refers to "concern" over ongoing business negotiations. It refers "critical difficulties" that might have affected the major contract for new military aircraft. Six days after the letter was written, Lord Goldsmith announced to the House of Lords that the probe into allegations of kickbacks to Saudi princes was being suspended.

He said diplomatic cooperation between Britain and Saudi Arabia was being put at risk by the investigation, with implications for UK security. Recent reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia had threatened to pull out of a potential new order for Typhoons. In the letter to Lord Goldsmith, Mr Blair acknowledged that his intervention in such a case was unusual but said he would be failing in his duty if he did not point out the security issues at stake.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
We now know that Blair lied about the decision to bring an end to the police investigation of the BAE System scandal. The letter from Mr Blair to Lord Goldsmith dated 8 December 2006 was released to the High Court during a case brought by two pressure groups who are challenging the legality of the decision to end investigations into BAE Systems' dealings with Saudi Arabia.

There was uproar when the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into the Al Yamamah contract from the 1980s was dropped, but Mr Blair insisted the decision was taken on security grounds and was not linked to commercial interests. Yet the letter shows that was not the case. In the letter Blair refers to "concern" over ongoing business negotiations. It refers "critical difficulties" that might have affected the major contract for new military aircraft. Six days after the letter was written, Lord Goldsmith announced to the House of Lords that the probe into allegations of kickbacks to Saudi princes was being suspended.

He said diplomatic cooperation between Britain and Saudi Arabia was being put at risk by the investigation, with implications for UK security. Recent reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia had threatened to pull out of a potential new order for Typhoons. In the letter to Lord Goldsmith, Mr Blair acknowledged that his intervention in such a case was unusual but said he would be failing in his duty if he did not point out the security issues at stake.

The High Court ruled yesterday that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully by dropping a corruption inquiry into a £43bn Saudi arms deal. Two High Court judges described the SFO's decision as an "outrage". The legal challenge had been made by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

Lord Justice Moses, told the High Court that the SFO and the government had given into "blatant threats" that Saudi co-operation in the fight against terror would end unless the probe into corruption was halted. He added that the SFO had failed to assure them that everything had been done to meet the rule of law. "No one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice," he said.

Unfortunately the judges did not rule that the case would be reopened and Blair and BAE might still get away with this crime.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gordon Brown has so far not spoken about the BAE corruption case. However, he has let it be known via unofficial sources that he fully supported Tony Blair forcing Robert Wardle, the director of the Serious Fraud Office, to drop the investigation into secret payments by the arms company to Saudi Arabia. Wardle told the high court hearings that the idea of discontinuing the investigation “went against my every instinct as a prosecutor”. The High Court judges were able to see the memos where Blair and Goldsmith placed pressure on Wardle. What we do not know is what Blair said to Wardle in the off the record meetings.

The Tories have of course tried to exploit the High Court decision be attacking the actions of Blair. However, they are not calling for the BAE investigation to be reopened. The reason being that the BAE/Saudi bribes have been paid since 1985 when the Tories were in office. It was in fact Thatcher who did the original deal. Her payoff was for her son to be given numerous business contracts based in the Middle East. The National Audit Office investigation into this matter in 1989. However, Thatcher was able to stop the report from ever being published.

Two weeks ago the Brown government introduced draft legislation creating a power for the attorney general to halt prosecutions on national security. The bill concentrates power for making such decisions in the hands of the executive and makes a judicial review of a decision virtually impossible. This bill will become law as it has the support of the Conservative Party as it is aware that it will need protection against the High Court when it gains power.

At the moment it is only the power of the judges that is protecting us from a “democratic dictatorship”. This legislation will significantly reduce the powers of the judges to do this in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over the weekend Lord Goldsmith issued a statement saying that the reason why the case was dropped was because he was convinced that the prosecution would fail. This is of course completely untrue. Robert Wardle, the head of the SFO made it clear at the time that this was not the reason the case was dropped. He was confident that he could get a successful prosecution.

The original reason given by Goldsmith was that the Saudi government had threatened to withdraw all co-operation on intelligence matters. However, this was denied by Sir John Scarlet, the head of MI6. Then Lord Goldsmith said it was because it would cost British jobs. This was supported by Tony Blair who claimed that Saudi Arabia would cancel the contract for the Eurofighter Typhoons and that if this happened “we would have lost thousands of highly skilled jobs and very, very important business for British industry”. This was also untrue as the order resulted in the diversion to the Saudis of the Typhons originally meant for the RAF.

When it was pointed out to Lord Goldsmith that to drop a corruption case for economic reasons went against an agreement with the OECD he had to change his story again, saying it was really Tony Blair’s decision. It probably was but that still not explain why the case had to be dropped at that particular time.

The real reason the case was dropped was that in September 2006 the SFO received the consent of Swiss banks to supply important evidence for the investigation. Goldsmith and Blair then realized that the SFO would now be able to trace the money via Swiss bank accounts. Why should Goldsmith and Blair care about this? The original contracts were signed under a Tory government. The beneficiaries would have been Tory ministers, Ministry of Defence officials, BAE executives and Saudi princes. Who was paying Blair and Goldsmith to carry out this cover-up?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

On Wednesday the House of Lords yesterday ruled that the Serious Fraud Office acted lawfully when it halted its investigation into bribery allegations relating to an arms deal between Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems. Led by Lord Bingham, the members of Britain's equivalent of the supreme court overturned what had been an earlier landmark judgment by two of their high court colleagues, Lord Justice Moses and Lord Justice Sullivan. Moses and Sullivan had previously condemned the enforced closedown of the SFO investigation into the bribery allegations as a betrayal of the rule of law. The law lords contradicted them. They said the courts should stand aside, and had no power to interfere with the decision to shut down the investigation in the face of Saudi threats of retaliation.

Once again, the establishment joins forces to prevent politicians from being prosecuted for corruption. Since the Labour government passed a limited anti-corruption act in 2002, claiming to be conforming to an international anti-bribery convention, the SFO has not been allowed to bring a single bribery prosecution, let alone obtain any convictions.

Meanwhile, the US has been vigorously prosecuting companies under its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and both France and Germany have brought politically embarrassing cases against their household name firms of Total-Elf and Siemens. The arms company still faces a potentially dangerous investigation in Washington by the US department of justice. Half BAE's business is now done in the US, which it has identified as the weapons procurement goldmine of the future.

US investigators have been hamstrung by Britain's refusal to cooperate in their investigations, and by difficulties in obtaining access to the Swiss bank accounts, the prospect of disclosure of whose contents has so alarmed the Saudi royal family. But the US department of justice is proving harder to throw off the company's back than the British authorities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest arms company, is at the centre of a major scandal and is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Barry George, acted as BAE’s agent during the government sale of two British frigates to Romania. Apparently, BAE paid Barry George over £7m in commission for this deal.

The deal was arranged in 2003 by William Bach, the government’s arms sales minister. Ironically, Tony Blair has been lecturing Romania on tackling corruption before being accepted into the EU. Obviously, he does not think they are sophisticated enough in their corruption. Maybe he will have to give them advice on this.

BAE Systems have a long record of corruption. Last year, it was alleged in Chile that BAE had paid more than £1m to intermediaries linked to ex-president Pinochet in return for arms deals.

In 1996 a secret £7m payment from BAE to the foreign minister from BAE to the foreign minister of Qatar was discovered in a Jersey account after an arms deal to the state.

In 2003 a whistleblower alleged that a £60m slush fund was being used by BAE to provide presents to the head of procurement for the Saudi air force.

Is it possible that BAE have been involved in providing money to Tony Blair? Maybe that is the real source of Lord Sainsbury’s loans.

Who is making money from this obscene arms trade? The main beneficiary is BAE Systems. In his book Blair’s Wars, John Kampfner records that “from his first day in office Blair was eager not to antagonise British arms companies, and BAE Systems in particular, which developed extremely close relationships with senior figures in Downing Street.” A Downing Street aide told Kampfner that whenever the head of BAE encountered a problem, “he’d be straight on the phone to No 10 and it would be sorted”.

BAE Systems latest problem concerns the Serious Fraud Office’s three year investigations into allegations that illegal commissions into allegations that illegal commissions may have been paid to Saudi royals by BAE Systems. The SOF is also looking at arms deals between BAE and General Augusto Pinochet.

Both these deals date back to Margaret Thatcher’s time in government (her son was also involved in these deals). This helps to explain why Thatcher was so keen on helping Pinochet stay in office and from being tried in court for crimes against humanity.

What has this to do with Tony Blair? Maybe he is keen for these arms dealers to pay off the Labour Party debts (£17 million needs to be paid back during the next 12 months).

BAE is apparently claiming that the Saudis are threatening to pull-out of a £6 billion contract to provide 72 Eurofighter Typhoons and give it to the French if Blair does not call off the SFO.

There is also another interesting point. Today the Guardian revealed that secret payments of millions of pounds from BEA has been found in Swiss accounts linked to Wafic Said, a billionaire arms broker for the Saudi Royal family. Apparently, Said is a close friend of Peter Mandleson. Now, there is a man that Blair finds difficult to refuse a favour.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the Serious Fraud Office was "discontinuing" its investigation into Britain's biggest defence company, BAE Systems. its corruption inquiry into a £6bn fighter planes deal with Saudi Arabia. The reason given was one of "national security".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6180945.stm

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.

As you can see from above I have taken an interest in the relationship between Tony Blair and BAE Systems for some time. Blair was able to block the prosecution of BAE when he was prime minister. Will Gordon Brown follow his example? It has been leaked to the BBC that the Serious Fraud Office has approached Patricia Scotland, Baroness of Asthal, the Attorney General about prosecuting BAE over bribery allegations over arms contracts with Tanzania, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Romania. (Blair blocked the investigation into the Saudi-BAE deal.)

The Tanzanian military radar system deal is especially interesting. Tanzania had to borrow £28 million in order to have a system it did not need. Clare Short, then development minister, tried to stop it going ahead by holding up an export licence but Blair forced her to back-down. The SFO has discovered that a third of the radar’s price was diverted into a Swiss bank account controlled by Sailesh Vithlani. He has of course disappeared. It would be interesting to discover Vithlani’s relationship to Blair.

Will the Baroness of Asthal block the investigation in the same way as Lord Goldsmith did? She was given her title by Tony Blair who put her in his government as 1999. Gordon Brown made her attorney general as part of his deal with Blair when he became prime minister.

However, the Baroness is not in a very good position at the moment as she should have resigned last week after she was found guilty employing an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper, contrary to the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, which she herself as a Home Office Minister had been responsible for steering through the House of Lords. Another way of looking at it is that she will stay in power just long enough to block the current BAE Systems investigation. Personally, I don’t think even the New Labour government will try this one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

Over the last 20 years Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair have been involved in a massive corruption scandal. Not only have they been receiving payments via BAE but they have used their influence as prime minister to make sure these corrupt activities were not exposed. Thank goodness, the Department of Justice in Washington decided to get involved.

Yesterday BAE agreed to pay out almost £300m in penalties, as it finally admitted guilt over its worldwide conduct, in the face of long-running corruption investigations. BAE said it would plead guilty to charges of false accounting and making misleading statements, in simultaneous settlement deals with the Serious Fraud Office in the UK and the department of justice in Washington.

The admissions in the US covered BAE's huge £43bn al-Yamamah fighter plane sales to Saudi Arabia that took place under Thatcher and enabled her son to make millions. In the UK, the admissions cover a highly controversial sale of a military radar to poverty-stricken Tanzania, which the development secretary Clare Short said at the time "stank" of corruption, but which the then prime minister, Tony Blair, forced through the cabinet.

The Serious Fraud Office said in its announcement yesterday that some of the £30m penalty BAE was to hand over in the UK would be "an ex gratia payment for the benefit of the people of Tanzania". Another $400m (£257m) would be paid in penalties to the US authorities. BAE will not face international blacklisting from future contracts, because it has only admitted false accounting, not bribery.

In 2006, under pressure from Blair, SFO's own extensive inquiry into the al-Yamamah deal was shut down. The then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, cited national security when he announced the inquiry was being abandoned. Blair said he took full responsibility for the decision.

Although BAE Systems has confessed to being involved in corrupt activities, nobody has been brought to account. The main reason for this is that both Tory and Labour governments were involved in this scandal. Both major parties are involved in this cover-up. As Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats has pointed out: "The British government was up to its neck in this whole business. Government ministers were almost certainly fully aware of what was happening."

Richard Alderman, director of the SFO, called the deal "pragmatic". It later emerged that the only prosecution of an individual by the SFO – Count Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly – was being dropped. Alderman added: "This brings to an end the SFO's investigations into BAE's defence contracts."

Yesterday's announcement in Washington focused on BAE's acceptance of guilt of the Saudi deals, and described secret shell offshore companies for making covert payments, and specific payments into a Saudi intermediary's Swiss account. It also identified £19m secretly paid to lubricate Czech and Hungarian weapons deals. BAE admitted writing an untrue letter to US authorities in 2000, denying it was paying any secret commissions.

Sue Hawley of the Cornerhouse NGO, and the former South African ANC MP Andrew Feinstein – said they reacted to the deal, under which no trials will take place, with "dismay". They said it "betrays the people of Tanzania, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Romania, who have the right to know the truth about corruption in their countries perpetrated by British and other companies. It … sends the message that large enough corporations are able to pay their way out of trouble."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...