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Revolving door controversy

Sir Kevin Tebbit was employed at the MoD during negotiations that led to a £1 billion procurement contract secured by Finmeccanica’s subsidiary Agusta Westland to build 70 Future Lynx helicopters to be deployed in Afghanistan. The helicopter contract was seen as absolutely vital to Augusta Westland. Documents released under the UK's freedom of information (FOI) rules show that in July 2005 the company “had a very limited order book and were very dependent on Future Lynx”. Exactly why and how Agusta Westland won the contract, which was signed in June 2006, has been heavily criticised ever since by politicians and military experts.

Tebbit's role in this is controversial. He was permanent under-secretary at the MOD from 1998 to November 2005, according to official records. He then moved to Finmeccanica UK in July 2007. Although there are no documents showing Tebbit had direct control over the helicopter contract, the key decisionmaking happened on his watch.

The government, under FOI laws, has admitted it had meetings with Agusta Westland in May 2004 and January 2005. However it has refused to release the minutes of these meetings, citing commercial confidentiality.

Tebbit was quick to exploit his contacts since leaving the MOD. Just after the year-long rule that banned him from directly lobbying ministers on Finmeccanica's behalf had expired in July 2007, Tebbit wrote to the then secretary of state for defence, Des Browne to say “how much I am looking forward to working with you in my new capacity.” The letter went on to say: “I shall be based at Finmeccanica’s London HQ with the objective of strengthening the Group’s position in the UK, as well as internationally”.

Two months later Lord Drayson, the then minister for defence equipment and support, told Tebbit that he was 'glad that Finmeccanica had appointed someone with such a strong knowledge of the MOD'. [1]

Parliamentary lobbying


  1. Manuela Mesco and Andy Rowell, Revolving Doors Revealed, Spinwatch, 26 July 2011