Food safety in the UK and public confidence in it will be placed at risk if the government pursues a free-trade agreement with the US, a former Conservative environment minister has said. If imports of US-standard food were allowed, “you would have a huge decline in food safety,” said Lord Deben, now chairman of the Committee on Climate Change. “Food safety is a huge issue.” He said the US would stipulate allowing exports of its agricultural products to the UK in any free-trade agreement. “I know this – I’ve negotiated with them, for the whole of the EU,” he told the Guardian. “You have four times as much food-borne disease in the US,” he said, adding that the country’s standards on aspects of food safety, including meat and other agricultural products, were lower than those in the UK and Europe. Better known as John Selwyn Gummer, Deben was environment minister from 1989 under Margaret Thatcher and secretary of state … [Read more...] about Post-Brexit US trade deal risk to food safety, says ex-environment minister
For many, many months, the attorney general has been sitting on a decision on whether to launch a corruption prosecution over a large arms deal. Figuratively, the file relating to the decision appears to be gathering dust. One supposes that from time to time Geoffrey Cox has opened the file and looked at it. He may have even discussed its contents with his aides. The decision that has yet to be announced by Cox (and is now even less likely ahead of the general election) involves a politically contentious mix of alleged corruption, a large company in Britain and a prickly Middle Eastern ally. The UK’s anti-corruption agency, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), submitted a formal request to the attorney general to launch a prosecution in what is known as the GPT case. The attorney general’s department will not say exactly when. However, sources with knowledge of the case say the request was submitted at least 18 months ago and could have been dated as long ago as November three … [Read more...] about Is Geoffrey Cox turning a deaf ear to arms deal corruption?
Tony Blair was at the centre of controversy over BAE's arms deal with Tanzania, just as he was in the Saudi contracts. Cabinet ministers Claire Short and Robin Cook had tried to stop the sale of the hugely expensive radar to the poverty- stricken Tanzanians. But, as prime minister, he overruled them and insisted that the deal had to go through. It left Cook ruefully muttering that it seemed that Dick Evans, BAE's then chairman, seemed to have "the key to the garden door of No 10". The World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organisation judged that the 2001 purchase was unnecessary and overpriced. But the £28m deal started to look even worse when the SFO discovered that a third of the contract's price had been diverted into secret offshore bank accounts. The SFO believed that this money was used to pay bribes to Tanzanian politicians and officials. Yesterday Short, who resigned from the government, said : "Every way you looked at it, it [the deal] was outrageous and … [Read more...] about BAE deal with Tanzania: Military air traffic control – for country with no airforce
Since the Guardian first exposed BAE's worldwide system of undercover payments to secure contracts in 2003, the company has fought hard to deny its guilt, using every lobbying tool at its disposal and exploiting its influence within the offices of the then prime minister, Tony Blair. That the arms giant has finally been forced to pay substantial penalties is due to the doggedness of a small group of prosecutors, currently led by Richard Alderman, director of the Serious Fraud Office, and his US counterpart, Mark Mendelsohn, at the department of justice in Washington. Alderman's predecessor, Robert Wardle, stepped down from his post at the SFO in 2008, a frustrated man, having seen BAE and its friends persuade Blair to intervene and force a halt to extensive and long running criminal inquiries into the £43bn al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia. But that turned out to be the high-water mark of BAE's political influence. The US authorities promptly picked up the … [Read more...] about Perseverance and bluff – how the legal deal was done that sees BAE pay £285m fines
The British arms firm BAE Systems has accepted guilt and agreed to pay penalties in the US and the UK totalling several hundred million pounds to settle all the long-running corruption allegations against it. Under the deal, announced simultaneously in London and Washington, BAE will pay $400m (£255m) in the US and £30m in the UK. In the US, the company will plead guilty to offences of false accounting to settle bribery allegations made over the enormous al-Yamamah arms deals with Saudi Arabia stretching back more than 20 years, as well as corruption allegations over arms deals in central Europe. The deal with the Serious Fraud Office in the UK covers one arms contract only, under which an overpriced military radar was sold to Tanzania. The SFO said some of the cash would become "an ex gratia payment for the benefit of the people of Tanzania". The settlement vindicates a long campaign fought by the Guardian, which began a series of exposures of BAE's criminal conduct more … [Read more...] about BAE pays fines of £285m over arms deal corruption claims