Retired military officers have been secretly filmed claiming they can influence arms deals worth millions of pounds, according to The Sunday Times.
The paper claims the results of a three-month investigation have revealed several former military generals are available for hire as lobbyists, despite official rules banning the practice.
Sunday Times reporters claim they posed as representatives of arms firms and arranged meetings with several senior military officials and recorded them offering their influence and contacts with ministers and in return for six-figure sums.
The rules governming lobbying by former military personnel stipulate there must be a moratorium of two years before they can become involved in any activity which might be helped by their previous role.
According to the paper, Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, former head of the Defence Academy, claimed he could use his role as president of the Royal British Legion to influence his clients’ agenda with the Prime Minister.
Lieutenant General Richard Applegate, a former Ministry of Defence procurement chief, reportedly described a secret lobbying campaign in parliament for a £500m military programme on behalf of an Israeli arms company.
The paper claimed Lt Gen Applegate was prohibited from lobbying at the time because he had recently retired.
It was also reported that Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, Commander of the naval fleet until March 2011, told undercover reporters he would “ignore” the two-year ban imposed on lobbying ministers.
Lord Dannatt, the former head of the army, also talked about ignoring a ban on discussion of a £400m contract by “targeting” the MoD’s top civil servant, with whom he went to school.
The official watchdog that vets the private jobs taken by departing public officials last night described the allegations as “very serious” and called on ministers and the head of the civil service to consider taking urgent action.
When confronted by the paper, all four men strongly denied having breached any rules. They added their actions were motivated by having at heart the best interests of the armed services.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: “We will be looking to see if any of these individuals have broken any rules.
“It is clear that former chiefs acting in a commercial capacity should not have any privileged access to the MoD and we will be putting in place measures to ensure this.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond denied former military personnel were able to use their contacts to influence arms deals.
“Equipment is procured in the interests of our Armed Forces and not in the interests of retired personnel,” he said.
“Former military officers have no influence over what MoD contracts are awarded.”
Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/997377