Can we dream of a world where the arms industry simply doesn’t exist?
The close ties between the upper echelons of the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest arms company, have come under the spotlight after new documents showed how the multinational firm has regularly wined and dined mandarins and senior military officers.
BAE took top defence officials and military officers out to eat and drink 52 times over a three-year period, according to the documents. Nearly half of the hospitality was given to the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy.
The firm is billed as the most assiduous in courting the MoD by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a not-for-profit organisation based at City University, London. Using records disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, the bureau calculated that BAE took out the ministry’s top people nearly five times more than its commercial competitors, Thales and Boeing, between January 2007 and December 2009.
The relationship between the ministry and BAE has frequently been criticised for being too cosy, allowing the corporate giant to wield influence over the government through its privileged access. It has been disclosed that the ministry has given security passes to many BAE employees, including its chief lobbyist, permitting them to go in and out of the department’s headquarters as they wish.