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The real Adam Werrity scandal

The key point about the weekend revelations over Adam Werrity is not just, or even mainly, whether Fox keeps his job or not. The real scandal is that Werrity was able to inveigle himself into so many compromising situations without anyone calling a stop to it or blowing the whistle. Indeed had it not been for the legal spat between Harvey Boulter, a private equity boss and commercial partner of MoD, and the US conglomerate 3M which led to court proceedings in the US, even now it is likely that no alarm would have been raised about the Werrity affair. What is above all shocking is that despite all the previous revelations about lobbyists and defence contracts, nothing has been done to regulate lobbyists at Westminster. Even worse, when this latest affair has blown over, will anything be done even then?

It’s not that there isn’t a public campaign for proper accountability. There is; it’s just that it’s repeatedly ignored. The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency has regularly called for public scrutiny of relations between Ministers/legislators and those who are effectively professional hustlers. The tone (i.e. deafness) was set by Thatcher squashing any investigation of kickbacks over the enormously lucrative Al Yamamah contract in the 1980s, and then again by Blair blocking the SFO investigation into another huge BAE bribery scandal again involving the Saudis in 2005. But there have been plenty of other scandals along the way involving access for lobbyists. In 2008, for example, Lady Harris in the Lords gave a researcher’s pass to Robin Ashby whose company lobbies Ministers for BAE Systems and other arms manufacturers.

So why haven’t the rules been tightened up? Actually they’ve been loosened. The new Ministerial code published in 2007 ended the requirement that meetings between Ministers and lobbyists should be recorded. Then in January 2009 the Public Administration Committee proposed a framework of anti-corruption rules. It was greeted with horror in government, and nothing was done. We now see the result.

In the US, as result of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act 2007 an internet search will reveal who is lobbying whom, how much they’re paid, and who they represent, and anyone failing to obey these rules can be sent to prison for 5 years. The comparison with Britain, with its atmosphere of complacency and collusion, is truly shocking.

One Comment

  1. O.Research says:

    Was Werrity Dr Liam’s Handbag???

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