QinetiQ – the War Profiteer Welsh Politicians Love to Love

THE National Audit Office (NAO) delivers a stinging rebuke to the Ministry of Defence with the publication of its long-awaited report into the privatisation of QinetiQ, the defence-technology group. National Audit Office Press Notice The privatisation of QinetiQ

QinetiQ is a company that has been mired in ethical controversy since its very beginning, for claims of taxpayer rip-offs, profit-gouging, sweetheart contracts and conflicts of interest. An early draft of the NAO report slammed the company for the “excessive profits” earned by its senior management and top investors.

In just four years, the US investment company Carlyle earned over £300 million on an initial £42 million stake in QinetiQ, while Chairman Sir John Chisholm turned his £129,000 QinetiQ investment into a £22 million personal fortune.Despite this greed of the highest order, Welsh politicians act as if they could not care less.

In January 2007, the QinetiQ-led Metrix Consortium won what is to be the largest investment in Welsh history – a £16 billion contract to build a private military training academy at St Athan, in the Vale of Glamorgan. The project would thrust Wales to the forefront of the global arms trade, since the business model at the heart of the St Athan Academy is to maximise profits by providing training not just to the British Armed Forces, but to militaries from all over the worldPrivatisation of the military, many fear, as is the case in other sectors, can undermine public accountability and erode ideas of public service and the public good, while achieving little if anything in the way of cost savings.

“The only winners in the privatisation of defence training,” says Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, “are the shareholders of the Metrix Consortium.”Jill Evans, Plaid MEP, has recently raised concerns about the St Athan Defence Training Academy, particularly because of the Consortium members behind the project, which include other arms companies like Raytheon.

Anne Greagsby, campaigning against the St Athan Academy said,“This cosy embrace of QinetiQ by Welsh political leaders over the past few years is puzzling, to say the least, given the country’s supposed commitment to principles of social justice and fairness, good governance, sustainable development and responsible international citizenship.“We are calling for a public debate about the companies involved in the Metrix consortium and we seek assurances that they are not involved in corruption or the trade of unethical weapons like cluster bombs and depleted uranium.”

QinetiQ also helps Wales manage and market its new UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) centre at Parc Aberporth – a facility the government has said is a key part of its plans for the regeneration of Cardigan and West Wales. Welsh Assembly Members and Ministers, in welcoming QinetiQ to Parc Aberporth, have spoken glowingly of its “vast expertise” and “international reputation.”

PCS the union representing staff involved said "Recently the MoD won awards at a PFI ceremony for privatising more functions than any other Civil Service department. This is a national scandal. Companies like QinetiQ were flogged off cheap, and now intend to make vast profits from delivering military training. QinetiQ will squeeze every penny out of the MoD that it can, while delivering training where quality is sacrificed to making profits for its shareholders.This does not benefit the people of South Wales or our service personnel. It benefits QinetiQ, and that's all they're interested in. With recent reports of the breakdown of the military covenant, PCS asks is privatising defence training going to make things better? Our answer is an uneqivocal 'No!' '"

ENDS Notes

Pfeifer (2007) “Audit Office Slams ‘Excessive’ Profits for QinetiQ Chiefs,” Daily Telegraph, March 17.George Monbiot (2006) “Greed of the Highest Order and the Worst Privatisation Since Rail,” Guardian, February 14.Public and Commercial Services Union (2007) “Union Anger Over Defence Privatisation” January 17.See QinetiQ briefing: http://www.cynefinywerin.org.uk/index.php?docid=286

our briefings on:Qinetiq - http://www.cynefinywerin.org.uk/index.php?docid=286

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