Inside the system
Rich crooks keep hold of the loot
CROOKED, LYING former Tory MP Jonathan Aitken has done quite well out of declaring himself bankrupt. He has been pleading poverty, but through a series of dodges he still manages to employ a chauffeur, secretary and housekeeper. He has clung on to his �2.75 million central London house, �250,000 of parliamentary pension and �150,000 from a book deal. Recently uncovered documents allege that he used his wife's name to siphon cash off to foreign bank accounts. Aitken's is not the only case. Britain's bankruptcy laws are designed to prevent the very rich from losing all their loot.
- GEORGE WALKER, former head of the Brent Walker leisure group, was worth �40 million when he went bankrupt owing �180 million.
He has now been discharged from bankruptcy and is living in the mafia capital of Europe, Russia, where he runs a satellite TV company.
- KEVIN MAXWELL was declared Britain's biggest bankrupt with debts of �406.5 million in 1992.
The bankruptcy was lifted three years later, and he is now a �247,000 a year director of media company Telemonde. He and his wife, Pandora, live in a �500,000 manor house in ten acres of land in Oxfordshire. The government report into the collapse of the Maxwell empire has still not been published because Kevin Maxwell says he cannot afford the legal advice to respond to it.
- ROGER LEVITT's financial services empire collapsed in 1990 with �34 million of debts. Over 18,000 investors lost money. He got just 180 hours community service after admitting 62 fraud charges which cost taxpayers �4.5 million. He managed to keep a five bedroom, four bathroom Grade II listed house in St John's Wood, one of the poshest parts of London.
STELLA Rimmington, the former head of MI5, is about to make a fortune from the publication of her memoirs. She has cooked up a deal with top civil servant Richard Wilson to get official blessing for the book.
What a difference between her treatment and that meted out to people who have actually tried to shed some light on Britain's secret state. Tony Gerhaty last year became the first journalist to be charged under the revamped Official Secrets Act. His home was raided and his computer seized. His book, The Irish War, showed how the British army in Northern Ireland conducted surveillance against virtually the entire population there.
Gerhaty is sympathetic to the security services, but that did not stop him being arrested.One of his supposed contacts still faces a possible trial A former army intelligence operative, who wrote under the name of Martin Ingram, has exposed dirty tricks in Northern Ireland. They include an attempt by the army to burn down the offices of Sir John Stevens, a British policeman who was investigating collusion between the army and Loyalist paramilitaries.
A man accused of being Ingram has now been arrested under the Official Secrets Act and the manuscript of his book has been seized. The Ministry of Defence has also banned the Sunday Times from printing his story. Observer journalist Martin Bright faces possible charges for refusing to hand over notes of his discussions with former MI5 agent David Shayler.
A NEW report in the British Medical Journal suggests a link between multiple vaccinations given to Gulf War troops and the mystery illnesses many of them have been suffering from. Thousands of Gulf War veterans in the US and Britain report symptoms of Gulf War syndrome. The British government refuses to fund research into the illnesses, and does not even recognise that Gulf War syndrome exists.
Coke wars-it's the real thing
POLICE ARE panicking about coke wars which have broken out in Europe. They raided the dealers' offices in London and Belgium last week. These coke dealers don't peddle the white powder variety but the fizzy stuff in bottles.
The European Union is investigating whether the giant multinational Coca Cola Company has been fixing the market. Coca Cola stands accused of offering retailers "incentives" (some might say the word bribe) to sell more coke, and to stop selling other brands of soft drinks made by rivals.
THE Church of Scotland has found a novel defence of genetically modified food. Dr Donald Bruce, director of the church's Society, Religion and Tolerance Project, claims that the Book of Genesis provides strong support for GM food. He says, "In the first chapter god creates human beings as a kind of last stage and then says they have dominion over the whole of the rest of creation."
WTO death sentence
THE WORLD Trade Organisation has introduced new rules on patents which will mean the price of essential medicines for the world's poorest nations in Africa will go through the roof.
The charity Med�cins Sans Fronti�res says the rules mean medicines could be up to 20 times more expensive than they are now. "For people suffering from AIDS or other serious infections such as meningitus or pneumonia, this is basically a death sentence," says the charity.