Rob lists four faults with the report:
First, it says that government ministers cannot interfere in judicial decisions. “It does not mention”, says Rob “that the Attorney General can block any prosecution, that he is chosen and can be replaced at the whim of the Prime Minister, and that he sits in Cabinet like any other government minister”.
The “Clean Hands” investigation in the early 1990s revealed that, apart from the Communists who were permanently excluded from government, all of Italy's political parties were riddled with corruption. In response Italian judicial authorities prosecuted four ex-Prime Ministers, 12 current or former ministers, and 120 deputies or senators of the Italian Parliament. “That sort of clean up would be impossible in Britain because of the powers of the Attorney General” Rob points out.
Last year Prime Minister Blair said he had ordered an end to the investigation and prosecution of BAE Systems over alleged bribes to Saudi officials. “I would've thought that that fact alone would've made them eager to withdraw the report.” Rob commented.
Rob's second charge relates to its statements about media freedom. “In three of the four examples it gives it has stood the truth on its head” say Rob “These are not examples which others would wish to copy, but cautionary tales which show what happens to those who stick their necks out”. It asserts that BBC reports on the government's allegations about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the subsequent Hutton Inquiry, prove that the press are free to report on political scandals. Although it claims to be accurate up to mid 2004, the report fails to mention that in January of that year BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, BBC Director-General Greg Dyke and BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies were all forced out of their jobs by the Hutton Report. “In addition to giving misleading examples” says Rob “ it does not mention the restraints placed on the media by Britain's draconian defamation laws, nor government control over the commercial terrestrial broadcast media through licensing and appointments to oversight bodies”.
Third it says “there is little evidence of widespread systemic fraud and corruption” in the UK. This is despite the public confession in January 2004 of Sir Raymond Lygo, the former head of British Aerospace. Lygo admitted that when he was in charge, the company regularly underbid for UK government contracts with the intention of later using changes to the specification to ratchet up the price. “Lygo's claim that this merely resulted in the government paying the 'true price' is nonsense” says Rob. “Most large military projects use the Waterfall software project lifecycle. Changes to requirements made late in a project cost an enormous amount more than they would have if they had been included at the start of the project”.
A few weeks after Lygo's confession, Sir Kevin Tebbit, the most senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence (MOD), was asked by the Chairman on the Public Accounts Committee how he could be sure this was not still happening. He was unable to name a single measure which had been put in place to prevent it. Instead he suggested that it could only happen on Cost Plus contracts and therefore was no longer relevant. Yet in March 1988 Labour MP Dale Campbell-Savours accused Marconi of overcharging by using “misleading” Engineering Change Requests to alter the specification of the fixed price BATES project. Campbell-Savours was a member of the Public Accounts Committee. The chief of Defence Procurement Peter Levene admitted at the time that this was possible.
“The year before TI issued this report I met with Alex Cockroft, the Chairman of TI's UK branch” Rob says “and I specifically drew TI's attention to the BATES project. I showed him part of a National Audit Office report which indicates that government ministers from both of the two main parties lied to Parliament to conceal a huge increase in the price of BATES due to changes in the specification” (as reported in Indymedia at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/04/369088.html).
Rob's last charge is that the report says that the Metropolitan police are the only force directly accountable to a government department. “When I met Alex Cockroft I explained why it was impossible to get an impartial criminal investigation into frauds which I had reported on MOD contracts in 2000. The MOD Police made no attempt to prevent evidence from being destroyed, and they accepted statements from MOD civil servants which were obviously false, or at the very least, deliberately misleading. For instance, the MOD claimed that 'the price paid for the BATES system is the price which was originally agreed'. Yet it's a matter of public record that the price was £100 million when the contract was awarded in 1985, and £300 million by the time it was accepted in 1993. I complained to the MOD Police that MOD civil servants had committed a criminal offence by making such misleading statements. MOD Police officers told me bluntly that 'we don't care', 'We work for the MOD, we're part of the MOD' and 'as long as they're happy, that's all we care about'”.
“There are probably other faults with the report” says Rob “but I found these so serious that I didn't bother looking for more”.
The Campaign Against the Arms Trade issued their own report in 2005, which detailed a disturbing range of ways in which the arms industry are able to influence the government's decision making process. This included hiring former civil servants and former government ministers, as well as seconding their own staff to work for the MOD. According to the CAAT report “The institutional boundaries between the two bodies (the Ministry of Defence and the arms industry) are so blurred that the existence of any real separation has been questioned.....the government and military industry are so deeply interconnected and their interests so tied up with each other that whole areas of public policy-making have come to reflect corporate wish-lists.”
Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of Transparency International (UK), responded to Rob's charges by saying “This Report took a broad view of governance in the UK, assessing the evidence of institutionalised corruption risk. Individual cases, unless
they were substantiated and considered to be reflective of systemic, institutional weakness, would not have affected the main conclusions of the authors of the Report”.
“I take particular offence against the gibe about frauds needing to be 'substantiated'” said Rob. “The only way to do that would be to have an impartial criminal investigation, which we're obviously never going to get from the MOD Police. As they gave the perpetrators every opportunity to destroy the evidence, it may no longer be possible to get a conviction on the frauds I reported. However, the MOD Defence Fraud Analysis Unit gave a deliberately misleading report on the frauds to the MOD Police. That should be enough to convict the authors of the DFAU report for deliberately misleading a criminal investigation. Interestingly, TI have refused to back the call for some other police force to investigate that crime”.
Rob McCartney worked as a software engineer in the defence industry from 1979 until 2000, when he reported a number of frauds to the MOD Police. This was reported at the time in The Observer ( http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,333611,00.html).
“National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report United Kingdom 2004”
Campaign Against the Arms Trade report
“Who Calls the Shots”, 2005, www.caat.org.uk/publications/government/who-calls-the-shots-0205.pdf
Tebbit questioned by the Public Accounts Committee