Defence secretary claims retired officers 'have no influence'

15 October 2012

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15 October 2012 | Adam Leach

Defence secretary Philip Hammond says former senior officers “have no influence” over government contracts, after a newspaper exposed retired military figures offering to use their positions and contacts to influence deals.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to launch an investigation into the allegations that the senior figures, who included a former head of the army, claimed to be able to influence procurement to support defence manufacturers.

A special investigation by The Sunday Times published yesterday, filmed senior retired figures from the military offering to use their positions and contacts within Parliament and Whitehall to benefit arms manufacturers. The investigation featured a number of interviews, filmed with hidden cameras, where journalists posing as representatives from arms manufacturers asked what the individuals could do to benefit their firm.

Hammond said in response: “Equipment is procured in the interests of our armed forces and not in the interests of retired personnel. Former military officers have no influence over what MoD contracts are awarded.”

Under MoD rules, staff must wait two years after leaving their role in the department before working in the defence sector. But the investigation found a number of individuals were willing to lobby ministers and Whitehall officials at events such as the Remembrance Day service, in support of the companies.

The MoD said it would investigate the claims to see if any wrongdoing occurred. “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,” a departmental spokesman said.

All the individuals accused in the investigation - Lord Dannatt, former head of the army; Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, former director of the defence academy; Lieutenant General Richard Applegate, former MoD procurement chief; and Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, a former naval fleet commander - deny any wrongdoing.

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