Ex-military chiefs could be banned from contact with MoD

John Ingham |

FORMER military chiefs could be barred from contact with ministers and Ministry of Defence officials after several were secretly filmed allegedly saying they could help secure lucrative contracts for arms firms, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said.

Reporters from a Sunday newspaper posed as representatives of a South Korean weapons manufacturer seeking to recruit them to help sell pilotless drone aircraft to the UK Government.

Among those targeted were Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, ex-head of the Defence Academy and now president of the Royal British Legion, former MoD procurement chief Lieutenant General Richard Applegate, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, commander-in-chief fleet of the Royal Navy until earlier this year, and ex-head of the Army Lord Dannatt.

All deny breaking any rules.

But Mr Hammond said rules appeared to have been broken and could need a tougher enforcement.

“There are many reasons why it is sensible for the MoD to maintain contact with retired officers. They are often asked (by the media) to comment on things that are going on in the defence area,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.

“But if they are abusing that access for commercial purposes then we will have to tighten it up or maybe even shut it down. That is something we will now look at.”

Last night Lord Dannatt strongly denied any wrongdoing. He said he was “surprised and offended” by suggestions that he was “planning to break procurement rules”.

He added: “Of course, it would not occur to me to act in that way. I have never been asked to lobby and have no intention of lobbying. In my experience lobbying is invariably counter-productive.”