Geoff Hoon

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Geoff Hoon is a British Labour Party politician who served as the secretary of state for defence from 1999 until 2005. Other posts included transport secretary, leader of the House of Commons and government chief whip.
Geoff Hoon at the Pentagon, 12 February 2003. Source: US Department of Defense
He was the MP for Ashfield from 1992 until 2010, when a cash-for-access lobbying scandal forced him to resign.

Hoon has worked in the defence sector since leaving parliament, mainly with helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland which he joined in 2011. He stepped down as its international director in October 2016. [1]

Controversies and conflicts of interest

Resignation from Ministry of Transport

Hoon resigned as transport secretary in 2009 amid controversy over his MP expense claims. The Telegraph reports he had claimed expenses relating to two different properties at the same time. He apologised 'unreservedly' for the error. He 'is thought to have amassed a sizeable property portfolio worth more than £1.7 million'. [2]

Suspension from the Labour Party

In 2010 Hoon was suspended from the Labour Party after being secretly filmed by television programme Dispatches offering his consultancy services for £3000 a day. Hoon later issued an 'unreserved' apology for the filmed comments. [3] Hoon had told Dispatches that:

One of the challenges I think I am really looking forward to is sort of translating my knowledge and contacts about sort of international scene into something that bluntly makes money.

There will be opportunities for American companies, in particular, to look around at some (em) vulnerable European companies because those companies will become vulnerable as their own governments cut back on defence spending. I foresee, its one reason why I’m talking to American private equity firms, I foresee a period where we may well see American companies in effect, buying market share in Europe because they will be buying up national champions who are not getting the support they need to, to continue.

Human Rights complaint

Hoon filed several complaints with the European Court of Human Rights against the investigation, namely: that the parliamentary proceedings had violated his right to a fair hearing as he had not had access to a court to challenge the claims against him, and that the parliamentary authorities had failed to respect his right to private life.

In 2014, the Strasbourg court rejected his complaint that the investigation and report had breached his human rights. It claimed the complaint about his right to a fair hearing was inadmissible, and the 'interference' with Hoon's private life had been 'proportionate'. It added that Hoon's complaint about privacy was 'manifestly ill-founded'. [4]

Revolving door controversy

Acoba approval

Hoon launched his own transport consultancy TaylorHoon Strategy in September 2010.[3] The Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on Business Appointments ACOBA cleared his plans, with fairly standard conditions:

having left office over 12 months ago the Committee sees no reason why he should not immediately set up a consultancy, providing strategic advice to clients, subject to the conditions that for 2 years from his last day in office he should not draw on any privileged information that was available to him as a Minister, or undertake any work as a consultant which involves providing advice to any company or organisation on the terms of any bid or contract relating directly to the Department for Transport. Also for 2 years from his last day in office he should not become personally involved in lobbying UK Government Ministers or Crown servants, including Special Advisers, on behalf of his clients. If during that period, the nature of the consultancy changes in any way from providing strategic advice to clients, he should seek further advice from the Committee".[5]

AgustaWestland 'bribery' allegations

In May 2011 Hoon took up the role of executive senior vice-president of AgustaWestland, responsible for sales of helicopters outside the UK and Italy. [3].

This proved controversial because Hoon, while defence minister, had landed several contracts with the company. One was worth up to £1bn for 'FutureLynx' helicopters in 2005, awarded just two months after AgustaWestland had announced it would cut its 4000 West Country workforce by some 680. [6]

AgustaWestland also has been involved in several scandals, facing repeated accusations of bribery and falsifying invoices in helicopter sales to India, Algeria, Sweden and South Korea. The company was charged with bribery, along with two of its top officials, by the Italian court. [7]

As International Director Hoon was the face of AgustaWestland at international trade shows, speaking for the quality and performance of the helicopters while defending its ways to secure contracts. In an article for Defense World, Vishwanath Patil suggests that, while Hoon might not have been directly involved in the unethical procedures of securing Agusta Westland contracts, 'his spirited defence of a company against which the Italian court has established charges of bribery [...] shows a surprisingly high level of conviction'. DefenseWorld noted that the UK government had not investigated either Agusta Westland or the individuals involved in the scandal, which it speculated indicated the level of influence Hoon could still be holding on the UK government. [8]

From 1 January 2016, the activities of AgustaWestland were merged into Leonardo-Finmeccanica's Helicopter Sector, of which Hoon became Managing International Director until he stepped down in late 2016.

Strong support for Labour Friends of Israel

In November 2003 Hoon gave a speech to the United Jewish Israel Appeal, in which he declared that he is a 'strong supporter' of Labour Friends of Israel and a good friend of Trevor Chinn[9].

Video interviews

Hoon has been interviewed several times by the American think tank Center for a New American Security on Global Defence Markets and other related topics. [10] [11]

External Resources

references

  1. Geoff Hoon to depart AgustaWestland, 17 October 2016, accessed 14 September 2017
  2. Robert Winnett, Geoff Hoon resigns amid expenses controversy, The Telegraph, 06 June 2009. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Geoff Hoon joins AgustaWestland, defencemanagement.com, 17 May 2011, accessed 13 June 2011
  4. European court rejects Geoff Hoon's human rights complaint, BBC News", 4 December 2014. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  5. Twelfth Report 2010-2011 Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, accessed 3 December 2014
  6. Mark Milner AgustaWestland given lifeline with MoD's £1bn order for Lynx, The Guardian, 25 March 2005, Accessed 28 September 2016.
  7. David Pallister, Geoff Hoon faces further corrupt pressures at Agusta Westland, Exaronews, 18 September 2015.
  8. Vishwanath Patil Leads To Agustawestland Bribery Case May Lie In The UK, DefenseWorld.net, May 7, 2016. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  9. Hoon, G. (2003) Speech by Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, to the United Jewish Israel Appeal. 13th November 2003. accessed 2nd July 2008
  10. Center for a New American Security, Geoff Hoon on Global Defense Markets, Youtube.com, May 15 2014. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  11. Center for a New American Security, Linda Hudson and Geoff Hoon on the Current and Future Defense Industry Environmen, Youtube.com, May 15 2014. Accessed 28 September 2016.
[Category:Labour Party|Hoon, Geoff]]