Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Yesterday, Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable about a meeting between Prince Andrew - who has "gainful employment" as a British trade ambassador - and a group of British businessmen in Kyrgyzstan, which revealed the prince's support of corruption:
Having exhausted the topic of Kyrgyzstan, he turned to the general issue of promoting British economic interests abroad. He railed at British anti-corruption investigators, who had had the “idiocy” of almost scuttling the Al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia. (NOTE: The Duke was referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces. END NOTE.) His mother’s subjects seated around the table roared their approval. He then went on to “these (expletive) journalists, especially from the National Guardian, who poke their noses everywhere” and (presumably) make it harder for British businessmen to do business.
But it gets worse - it turns out that he had been using his position as a member of the royal family to demand special briefings from the UK Serious Fraud Office on their corruption investigation into BAE:
The head of the SFO, Richard Alderman was summoned to Buckingham Palace shortly afterwards, on the morning of 13 May 2008, according to a palace spokesman.
Asked if Andrew had discussed the BAE case at that meeting, the spokesman said: "I would be surprised if he didn't." But he said: "The director of the SFO didn't report to him anything other than publicly available information."
After his return from Kyrgyzstan, Andrew accepted an invitation to tour the SFO's headquarters in Elm Street, London on 9 December 2008.
According to the palace, he again discussed the state of the BAE case, which was still probing secret alleged payments to clinch arms deals in several other countries.
There is no conceivable honest reason for this. The only reason for someone in his position to demand such a briefing is to obtain secret information which could then be passed to BAE or the Saudis and used to undermine the investigation.
If Windsor was an elected politician, he'd be drummed out of office for this. But that's the problem: he's not elected.
The prince's connections to Kazakhstan, another former Soviet republic rich in hydrocarbons and minerals, had been in the spotlight following the 2007 sale of the duke's former marital home to Timur Kulibaev, the Kazakh president's son-in-law.
There have been concerns that Prince Andrew has compromised his position in part because of the understanding that he received £3 million more than the guide price for the property.
Secret documents detailing the use by Prince Charles of his little-known power of veto over government bills must be released, the information commissioner has ruled.
A limited number of papers that show how the prince was consulted, in his capacity as the Duke of Cornwall, over the marine and coastal access bill, should be released within a month. Many others will remain confidential under the ruling, which was described by freedom of information campaigners as only a partial victory.
The case centres on the Whitehall convention that means the Prince of Wales must be consulted on any government bill that might affect his own interests, in particular, the Duchy of Cornwall, a private £700m property empire that last year provided him with an £18m income.
Correspondence between the office of the Prince of Wales and London mayor Boris Johnson about planning issues in the capital is being kept secret, according to national newspaper reports
The Guardian had asked City Hall to release correspondence between the prince and his aides, and elected representatives and officials at the Greater London Authority (GLA) about planning matters in the capital since Johnson became mayor, and specifically letters relating to the plans for the rebuilding of Chelsea Barracks and tall buildings.
But in a letter to the publication, information governance manager Albert Chan replied that Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’s private secretary, had written to Johnson but the prince had not consented to disclosure of the letter and, although the request came under environmental information regulations, it would not be released.
Witnesses ‘concocted an untrue story’ to cover up the influnce of the Prince of Wales and the Emir of Qatar in the cancellation of Richard Rogers’ Chelsea Barracks scheme, a High Court judge has been told
Justice Vos heard the case last month between property developer Christian Candy and his Qatari partners but was called back to court today to hear new disclosures.
Lord Grabiner QC, representing Candy, said the reason Qatari Diar witheld that the Emir after meeting Charles had ordered a planning application to be withdrawn was because it would have been a breach of the contract with Candy’s company CPC and they would have to pay him £81 million.
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