Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Our corrupt royal family

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. And so the UK - and New Zealand - are stuck with him, and his support for corrupt business practices. Unless, of course, we declare a republic...