Sunday, January 09, 2005
Another Friend, Another Leak (09.01.2005)

The Observer ran with a leaked letter from the Foreign Office Minister, Baroness Symons, to the husband of Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary, on how to deal with the sanctions regime imposed on Iran by the United States. David Mills, Tessa Jowell's husband, had wished to sell BAe jets to the mullahs, whilst avoiding the sanctions regime. The lobbying was publicised in 2003 when the Observer ran the story which the government denied:

In 2003 The Observer revealed how Jowell's husband lobbied Symons about the potentially lucrative deal to provide Iran with several British Aerospace jets after he sat next to her at a dinner party. Mills then went on to write to her, asking for help to push the deal through.
At the time Straw and Symons were adamant that Mills did not receive any special treatment. However, the leaked letter from Symons, written on headed government notepaper, suggests that this was not the case.

Unfortunately for the government Baroness Symons wrote a letter in which she set forth her understanding of the sanctions regime:

Symons wrote: 'Dear David. Given the obvious political sensitivities you will need to tread very carefully with this one. This is a difficult time to be raising Iran policy in Washington. The advice I have been given, with which I am inclined to agree, is that our official support for you with the administration would raise the profile of the case and, by so doing, increase the chance of eliciting a negative response.'

She advised Mills: 'So you will need to think very carefully about a lobbying strategy calibrated to achieve the right result. I am pleased that Allan Flood [the British Aerospace director] will be in Washington next week and that he will be calling on the Embassy to discuss this further. They are best placed to advise on next steps.'

Symons, whose portfolio includes the Middle East and international security, concluded: 'If after that meeting, you need further advice or help from me, please let me know. Yours sincerely, Liz.'

Selling jet planes to a brutal regime contrary to our interests in Iraq would appear to be a foolhardy exercise, but is part of our ethical foreign policy. However, buttering up BAe and Iran is a greater priority for this government than reinforcing the security of our soldiers. As Symons appears to be undermining the US sanctions regime, let us hope that Congress commences investigations of a company that is tied too closely to the current establishment. That would put a stop to some of the sleaze that our current crop of pols indulges in with increasing abandon.


Post a Comment

Blog Archive