Socialist Worker

Lord Moonie: new troubles for New Labour

Issue No. 2139

A small flat in south London seems to be a place close to the heart of senior Labour politicians.

It was owned at one point by Gordon Brown, who then sold it to his good friend Lord Moonie, whose lodger was Alistair Darling, now the chancellor.

Darling was able to claim expenses of £70,000 by declaring that the flat, rather than his family house in Edinburgh, was his main home. He classed the £1.2 million house in Edinburgh as his second home.

Meanwhile, Moonie has been caught up in another scandal after his business associates were arrested in a police investigation into fraud in the NHS.

Richard Nawrot and George Henderson, who run Scottish-based Americium Developments, were arrested in London last month on “suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and misconduct in a public office”.

Americium currently pay Moonie up to £40,000 a year in consultancy fees.

Two of Americium’s clients had lunch with Moonie and Nawrot at Westminster. One client said he discussed a potential NHS contract with Moonie at the lunch.

That contract is the focus of the fraud investigation. Also arrested and bailed last month was John Abbott, a former NHS procurement manager.

Exchange

Last month, Moonie was one of four Labour peers named as being willing to take money in exchange for helping to amend legislation in the Lords.

Around half the written questions tabled by Moonie in the Lords relate to US defence firm Northrop Grumman. Moonie is a paid adviser to the firm.

The current fraud inquiry concerns the relationship between Americium, the Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust – now known as the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – and a US technology company called CombineMed.

In April 2007, CombineMed beat 36 other companies to supply the Hammersmith NHS Trust with a procurement system.

At the same time as it was helping CombineMed, Americium was also working for the NHS Trust. One of its directors sat on the Trust’s five-member vetting committee that awarded CombineMed the contract.

The NHS Trust has now cancelled its contract with CombineMed and severed its links with Americium.

The House of Lords register of interests shows that Moonie began “parliamentary lobbying” for “Americium Developments, Edinburgh” in October 2006 for between £30-35,000 a year.

On 4 February, three weeks after the arrest of Nawrot and Henderson, Moonie restated his relationship with Americium, but changed the nature of the work to “non-parliamentary consultant”.

Moonie is not the subject of police inquiries.


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Tue 17 Feb 2009, 18:16 GMT
Issue No. 2139
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