Lewis Moonie

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Lord Lewis Moonie is a former Labour MP for Kircaldy (winner of seat in 1992, 1997 and 2001), and was Parliamentary under-secretary, Ministry of Defence until his resignation in 2003. [1]. He has acted as a consultant for Sovereign Strategy and held directorships for Mining Technology and the climate change consultancy AEA Technology. [2] He became Baron Moonie of Fife in May 2005.

His appointment as a director of Sovereign Strategy in 2005 attracted attention, as both Alan Milburn and Moonie were fast-tracked by a government appointments watchdog to take up work with the Labour-donating lobbying company. Unusually, Sovereign Strategy is not a member of the lobbyists' professional body, the Association of Professional Political Consultants, which has a code of conduct not to employ or pay any MP, peer or MEP. [3]

As of March 2013 Moonie declares in the Lord's Register of Interests that he is a non-executive Director of Bwin.Party plc, an internet gambling company, and also receives remuneration as an Advisory Council member of defence, medical and security services consultancy Perseus Global. Additionally, he acts an adviser for healthcare and biosecurity firm Americum Developments "unremunerated at present, but may bring financial benefits in the future". [4]

Moonie, QinetiQ & AEA Technology

When Moonie was defence minister he approved the conditions of the sale of QinetiQ, which allowed the company and directors John Chisholm and Graham Love to make vast sums of money. John Chisholm turned an investment of £129,000 into £22 million when part of QinetiQ was sold privately in 2006, while Graham Love managed to turn a £108,000 investment into £18 million pounds. The Carlyle Group also benefited, buying a £42 million stake which it sold three years later for £300 million.[5].

How things have changed. As an opposition MP in 1995 Moonie strongly opposed the privatisation of AEA Technology telling the Commons and the minister responsible for the decision that "The facilities management division of AEA, as the Minister has described--the part responsible for providing infrastructure support and general services to all AEA's sites--is currently being flogged off to the highest bidder, despite the pleas of the work force and the Opposition to delay the decision until AEA's future is decided. I understand--the Minister confirmed it today--that the contract is to be awarded to a company called Procord, formerly part of IBM, which was run by the present chairman of AEA, Sir Anthony Cleaver, before taking up his present appointment. The Minister should be well aware of how unwholesome such a position might appear."[6] Moonie now sits on the board of AEA Technology.[7] The privatisation of AEA Technology, one of the last under the Tories, has been likened to the QinetiQ's sale. The Guardian notes

The broader issue is whether QinetiQ should be in the private sector at all, even if the government retains a golden share. It is hard to make the case on the basis of similar privatisations under the Tories. Amersham, Margaret Thatcher's first privatisation, was a shining success but QinetiQ most closely resembles AEA Technology, the former research arm of the Atomic Energy Agency and a stock market dog for most of its quoted life. Both make part of their profits through so-called dual-use technology - in other words, applying inventions from specialist areas such as defence or nuclear energy to other fields. QinetiQ's intellectual property, for example, includes rights over some liquid crystal displays and devices to warn of icebergs. The point about these research-led businesses is that they are only as good as their pipeline of inventions. Once they are given an incentive to maximise profits, even for the long term, the temptation is to skimp on pure research and watch cash roll in from proven technology. It works for a while but stores up problems. QinetiQ, inevitably, would tell us that it is different, but it would: it's got a £1bn float to promote. The reality is that control of a valuable national technological resource - "crown jewels," says Francis Tusa, the respected editor of Defence Analysis newsletter - will be passed from the Ministry of Defence, the only body that could hold QinetiQ to a public-service course, with very little debate. Treasury coffers will be boosted handsomely but the case for full flotation has simply not been made. However, there is perhaps only one piece of good news: the float prospectus may reveal in full what other national assets accompanied the 1901 census into this oddly-named company.[8] The article began by explaining that QinetiQ had acquired the rights to the 1901 census which they have subsequently sold to Friends Reunited for £3.3 million.

Moonie opposed the privatisation of AEA Technology when in opposition, yet in government Moonie oversaw the very similar privatisation of QinetiQ's research division. His role allowed John Chisholm, Graham Love, and The Carlyle Group to make millions from investments in the company. Furthermore, as a board member of AEA Technology, Moonie appears to have dramatically changed his position since his time in opposition. Speaking to the Guardian Lord Gillbert, who gave evidence to the National Audit Office in relation to the matter said:

At the time I told the defence secretary (George Robertson) that this would be a bloody scandal but the treasury under Gordon Brown insisted on selling a stake in the agency to cut the defence budget...Frankly the money made by by the leading civil servants was obscene. This is shown by the facts themselves. They did not contribute anything to the turnaround of the company.[9]


In January 2009 Lord Moonie was one of four peers who allegedly agreed to accept money from undercover Sunday Times reporters, who were posing as business lobbyists, in return for amending legislation. Two peers, Lord Taylor of Blackburn and Lord Truscott were suspended from the House of Lords for six months for their role in what became know as the 'erminegate' affair. Lord Moonie and Lord Snape were both cleared by the Lords Privileges Committee but were invited to apologise for their "inappropriate attitudes".[10]

It was alleged that Lord Moonie offered to contact John Healey, the local government minister, and to identify people who could amend the legislation in question for a fee an annual fee of £30,000.[11]

Parliamentary passes

According to the Lord's Register of Interests as at March 2013 Moonie sponsored the following staff:

  • Robin Ashby, 'Director-General of the UK Defence Forum Ltd, a think tank; Managing Partner, Bergmans (media relations and research); clients include Perseus Global Ltd (technology transfer in defence, medical, security and telecommunications). Visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1-4 December 2012, as part of UK Defence Forum delegation to gain an understanding of the political and security framework as related to the Saudi Government; airfare and accommodation provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia'



Notes and References

  1. Guardian Aristotle MP profile: Lewis Moonie, accessed 01 August 2007.
  2. They Work For You, Changes to the Register of Members' Interests, Lewis Moonie, accessed 01 August 2007.
  3. Hencke, David, "Ex-ministers cleared to work for lobbying firm," Guardian, 24 May 2005, accessed 28 November 2008.
  4. Register of Lords' Interests, accessed 16 May 2013
  5. Hencke, David, "Auditors condemn rushed MoD sale that turned civil servants into multimillionaires," Guardian, 21 November 2007, page 4.
  6. House of Commons, Debates, Column 714, Publications and records, 14 March 1995, accessed 21 November 2007.
  7. AEA Group, 2006/07 Annual Reports, accessed 21 November 2007.
  8. Business Notebook, "QinetiQ float is flogging the crown jewels," Guardian, 10 January 2006, accessed 22 November 2007.
  9. Hencke, David, "Auditors condemn rushed MoD sale that turned civil servants into multimillionaires," Guardian, 21 November 2007, page 4.
  10. 'Two Labour peers face suspension', BBC, 14 May 2009.
  11. Nicholas Watt, 'Erminegate: police called to examine corruption allegations in House of Lords', The Guardian, 26 January 2009.
  12. Session 2012-13, Register of Interests of Lords Members' Staff (As at 11 March 2012)], www.parliament.co.uk, accessed 15 May 2013
  13. Reuters, AEA Technology PLC - Director Declaration, 03 January 2008, accessed 28 November 2008.
  14. Mychasuk, E. and Terazono, E., "Laughs at Party," Financial Times, 14 December 2007, accessed 28 November 2008.
  15. Gordon Rayner, Labour peers: Lord Moonie profile, The Telegraph, 27 Jan 2009, acc 16 May 2013