BAE man was free to roam MoD offices

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by armchair_jihad, Mar 20, 2007.

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  1. The government has admitted that the chief lobbyist of Britain's biggest arms company was given an official security pass allowing him to wander freely around the Ministry of Defence.

    It enabled Julian Scopes to enter and leave the highly secure Whitehall offices of the MoD as he pleased and lobby ministers and mandarins, pushing the commercial interests of his employers, BAE Systems.

    The MoD has admitted that "a variety of passes" are issued to BAE executives, but insisted that it would cost too much taxpayers' money to list them.

    Critics say that the admission, in a House of Commons parliamentary question, strengthens their argument that there is a cosy and insidious relationship between the arms industry and the government.

    They argue that BAE and other arms companies enjoy privileged access to ministers and are able to wield immense influence within government.

    Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who asked the parliamentary question, said: "I find this relevation quite extraordinary. It seems outrageous that the MoD facilitates the lobbying operation of a private sector firm."

    "It is the most powerful evidence of the incestuous relationship between the MoD and BAE".

    Mr Scopes is a former high-ranking civil servant at the MoD, who was the private secretary to the Tory arms sales minister, Alan Clark. He left in the 1990s to join BAE where he became the vice-president for eastern Europe.

    It emerged last month that Jan Kavan, the former Czech foreign minister, named Mr Scopes as one of two key lobbyists in the campaign to sell warplanes to the country.

    Police in Britain and the Czech Republic are now investigating this campaign as it has been alleged that BAE paid bribes to politicians in pursuit of a large contract.

    BAE deny the allegations, saying it continues to cooperate with the investigation.

    The MoD said there were precautions in place to ensure that Mr Scopes did not see secret information while he was inside their buildings, as officials are trained not to leave sensitive documents on their desks.

    He was given access to three offices - the main building, where defence ministers and the senior officials work, the Old War Office which contains several departments including military intelligence staff, and the home of the arms sales unit.

    Mr Scopes is one of hundreds of ministers and officials who have left the Ministry of Defence and subsequently joined arms companies, such as BAE, in what has been dubbed the "revolving door".

    Politicians and civil servants are allowed to take up these jobs but have to get permission from an official vetting committee, which seeks to ensure that they do not abuse the secrets they learned while working for the government.

    Three years ago, this committee said the number of MoD officials seeking work with BAE was so significant that they described it as "traffic".,,2038295,00.html

    I am very shocked to read this article though I completely believe Big And Expensives and the MoD's explanation
  2. All the sensitive documents go in the top drawer (unlocked) along with a copy of the squash ladder, the network password scribbled down on a piece of paper and the key for the lockable key press.

    Not that anybody EVER bothers to lock it.
  3. What? Are you seriously trying to tell me, that that bloody expensive system installed by *** is incapable of doing a wildcard search on a database?

    Are you telling me, that entering someone's name on a database is too expensive?

    What you mean is "We have no formal record of who has been issued what"
  4. More like "we don't want to tell you."
  5. FoIA contains a get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of "where cost of complying is not prohibitive". This and the 'public interest test' have turned into the mandarin's favourite excuses for refusing to release information that might prove embarassing.

    The HoC Constitutional Affairs Comittee published a fairly scathing report on official response to FoIA here . The best that can be said for MoD is that FCO and DTI both come out worse.
  6. I'm afraid this is a "nothing" story.

    Ever since the likes of Abbey Wood was opened, with its open plan offices, it has been common practice for visiting senior execs or project managers from companies to listen in on commercially sensitive conversations and casually read papers left lying on desks. Many have permanent passes allowing them to wander unescorted around the place. This is even more widespread with he advent of "hot desking", as an MoD official is not actually guaranteed he will be sitting at a desk in which he can place sensitive documents. I once caught a contractor openly browsing an MoD terminal. He laughed when I challenged him - my boss had given him log-on details! Another time, the same guy became aware there was a meeting going on (open plan again) discussing a contract he was bidding for. He just sat down 10 feet a way and took notes. The same happens with QinetiQ. But they don't have to be devious. They're simply given information to help them win contracts.
  7. Now unless times have changed there is a whole Int Corps section employed to check security in MOD should be easy enough for them.
  8. Mr Deputy - are you really that naif or are you being disingenuous? Employees of several defence companies have passes for various facilities within the MoD. In many cases this is critical to their efficient conduct of their duties as project personnel. No argument, no question.

    However many defence company employees - not only BAESYSTEMS - are employed simply for the purpose of gaining market intelligence and capitalising upon it. I know, I was one and got a pass for Main Building and Abbeywood during one programme which was never rescinded and remained valid up until I left a big American company. Like all good marketeers I would hover at drinks machines, water coolers and in canteens listening to the exchange of commercially and sometimes security sensistive information.

    I would then scuttle back to our coropratye HQ, make my report and receive plaudits for doing what no US employee could have done. I also made sure that my US colleagues understood the MoD message though and produced products that were fit for purpose and UK doctrinally compatible. Which I was well paid for. MoD officials at that time were very keen on my US employer because they had goodies and seemed to understand the UK defence context - better than many British companies.

    So there is an important message about security. Some people are commercially exploiting information. Others might not apply filters of national interest. For example if information gets into Thales, that may go into French intelligence service channels and be acted on in French (not necessarily European) interests! Of course what you hear in the corridors of power or read upside down on project directors desks is nothing compared to what you glean in coaches G and H of the 125 into Paddington from Parkway! Two past CDPs would be embarrassed if their conversations on that train were to have been taped. Many IPT Leaders commit faux-pas on their mobile phones or whilst chatting which they would crucify their juniors for....

    As for better and cheaper, well DPA can control better far more effectively than they currently do, cheaper is really a question of value and choice "as an independent varaible"!!
  9. Really? Horrors. Accepted practice then?
  10. No. It f*cking well is not. Any Project or Commercial Manager worth their salt would tell these people to get f*cked. I know I have in the past.

    Commercial companies will try anything to get free info which will give them an edge. Not exactly brain surgery here. The problem is spineless military and civil service types not having the bottle to throw people out who shouldn't be there.

    Someone remind me why my career is lagging behind again.
  11. Because you're not approaching retirement from the Military, and not desperately trying to ass-kiss a potential future employer?
  12. BAE man was free to roam MoD offices

    And frankly, could an Al-Qa'ida agent have done more damage?
  13. Cuddles

    Great post.



    Says it all really.
  14. Don't forget Abbeywood will have a totally contractor run IT system from April and funny enough the contractor who runs it also has an interest on a large number of comms projects being run by the DPA. Conflict of interest by any chance? After all, the bid information will be stored on the local system and can be quite happily read by the contractor prior to submitting its own bid. I'm sure providing top quality equipment and value for money for the tax payer will be top of the contractors list............ NOT!