Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2867

Watchdog demands Peer Profiteering Explanation  

Troublemaker looks at the week's news including peers and the PPE scandal, the SAS in Ukraine, and checkmate for Sunak
Issue 2867
Image of green PEE medical masks. Keywords: PPE Scandal

Safety wear or chance to profit? (Pic:

The House of Lords conduct watchdog has opened an investigation into the Conservative peer Lord Chadlington. It comes after new details about his introduction of a firm that was awarded £50 million in PPE contracts.

According to the commissioners’ website, Chadlington—real name Peter Gummer—is under investigation for alleged breaches of rules ­forbidding peers from seeking to “profit from membership of the house by accepting or agreeing to accept payment or other incentive or reward in return for ­providing parliamentary advice or service”.

He will also be asked about using “parliamentary means to confer exclusive benefit” on behalf of a third party in which they have a financial interest or receive payment. Chadlington is the brother of John Gummer—Baron Deben—the former cabinet minister and chair of the Conservative Party. SG Recruitment gained a Covid contract days after being placed in the high-priority “VIP lane” for companies with political connections.

At the time it gained the ­contract, Chadlington was a shareholder and a paid director of SG Recruitment’s parent company, Sumner Group Holdings. Chadlington was ­identified by the Department of Health as the “source of referral” of the small healthcare ­recruitment agency, meaning he had identified the company to the government.

Chadlington was ­previously cleared in July 2022 by one of the commissioners, Akbar Khan, of breaching the rules against peers lobbying the government to ­benefit companies in which they have a ­financial interest.

The commissioner concluded that Chadlington’s “only involvement” had been to provide SG Recruitment’s chief executive, David Sumner, with the email address of another Tory peer, Andrew Feldman, who was advising the DHSC on PPE procurement. But new information not ­disclosed to Khan’s initial investigation, revealed Chadlington had first spoken with Feldman in a phone call and that he had suggested SG Recruitment as a ­“potential candidate” to supply PPE. A House of Lords spokesperson told the Guardian newspaper that the new investigation would be carried out by Khan.

War! What is it good for? BAE  

The war in Ukraine is driving a boost in sales of submarines and armoured vehicles for Britain’s biggest military contractor. BAE Systems’ sales jumped 11 percent to £12 billion for the first six months of the year and a further leap is expected.

BAE also benefited from a round of funding for Britain’s next generation of ballistic missile-carrying nuclear submarines. In May, BAE was awarded a contract to build 246 of its CV90 armoured vehicles for the Czech Republic worth £1.8 billion.

The vehicle is a big seller for BAE, bought by Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Sweden has agreed to donate 51 of them to Ukraine. BAE is in talks to set up weapons production inside Ukraine following talks in May with Volodymyr Zelensky. Since the start of the Ukraine war, share-buyers are keener on buying military stocks. Woodburn said, “We see that pendulum now swinging into a more balanced position of ethical considerations coexisting with the need for defence and security.”

Martin Griffiths, a Briton who now runs the United Nations’ humanitarian work, co-founded and advises a private conflict resolution company that “works closely” with MI6. He was until recently the UN special envoy to Yemen. The company, Inter Mediate, was founded by Griffiths and Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff who is the company’s chief executive. The British foreign office has given over £4 million to Inter Mediate and launched a “campaign” to secure Griffiths’ appointment to his UN special envoy role. Spooky!

SAS trained far right crook

A Belarusian criminal who was reported dead last month in Ukraine claimed to have received training from Britain’s Special Air Service. The Declassified UK website said he was also filmed in possession of British-supplied rocket launchers. The man, Daniil Lyashuk, came from a far right hooligan background until he converted to Islam and expressed support for jihadist groups such as Islamic State.

He led a pro-Ukraine militia despite a conviction from a Kiev court for torturing detainees in the Donbas. Lyashuk said on his Telegram channel on 27 March that he received SAS training. It adds to indications that the SAS is training pro-Ukrainian forces, including those known for human rights abuses. Leaked US intelligence files said there were 50 British special forces in Ukraine this March. “Retired” British special forces soldiers have been reported to be operating on “missions deep inside Ukraine”.

Gambling den almost as crass as London 

China’s only legal gambling enclave in Macau has opened a bizarre 600-suite “London experience” property Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong.

A £1.6 billion revamp has seen a Holiday Inn become the focus of a Cool Britannia cavalcade. It includes holograms of David Beckham, and statues of Henry VIII, Winston Churchill and Elizabeth I.

Boadicea is also there thundering along in her chariot. The hotel is part of a mammoth resort complex—called The Londoner Macau —that includes four other properties, joined up by a single wide corridor flanked by boutiques and blasted with a Britpop playlist 24/7. The facade facing the main drag is a nigh-on perfect copy of the Houses of Parliament with a 96-metre replica of Queen Elizabeth Tower. Big Ben chimes on the hour. The 14 suites personally designed by Beckham are, sadly, invitation only.Come the evening with a musical extravaganza, as 20 Guardsmen, Beefeaters and cops to quote from the official blurb —“recreate a dramatic display of British pageantry” Suites start at £612 a day.

Is it now checkmate for Sunak’s ill-fitting plans? 

Before jetting off to holiday Rishi “I’m too rich to have a suit that fits” Sunak spent an odd few days. To take on the totally imaginary “war on the car”, Sunak declared himself a billionaire’s Jeremy Clarkson and rushed off to a motor fair in Sidcup to sit in Margaret Thatcher’s old car.

Inevitably it wasn’t even Thatcher’s car but a special branch one some cop was showing off. He then tried to make himself out to be some sort of pub bore as he declared, while grimly pulling a pint of stout all over his £700 loafers, “I want to protect the price of your pint at the pub”. And the day after that the beer-swilling petrol head of a prime minister declared that he’s going to restart drilling for oil in the North Sea.

Rishi Sunak then let it be known that he is to expand the teaching of chess in schools. As an enthusiast, the he is probably aware of ‘“zugzwang”.  It is the chess term for when any move will only make things much worse.

Things they say

‘I cannot and do not want to be associated with events that accept this kind of sponsorship’

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has pulled out of an appearance at the Edinburgh book festival, accusing its lead sponsor Baillie Gifford of ‘greenwashing’

‘Great opportunities… it’s good for people to consider options they might not have otherwise thought of’

Tory pensions secretary Mel Stride says more over 50s should be fast food delivery riders during a visit to Deliveroo

‘Look forward to Boris Johnson and Nadine Dorries doing takeaways and fruit-picking’

Labour peer Prem Sikka on Mel Stride’s over-50s employment plan

‘The Lionesses showed grit and determination against Nigeria’

Number 10 congratulates an England women’s football world cup performance that included stamping on a Nigerian player

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