UK Defence Forum

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Set up in 1996, the UK Defence Forum claims that it 'exists to enable politicians, industrialists, members of the armed forces, academics and others with an interest in defence and security issues to exchange information and views on the future needs of Britain's defence'.[1]

It is headed by director-general Robin Ashby, described by the Telegraph as "one of the Britain's best known defence lobbyists", who has previously lobbied for major firms such as BAE Systems, Boeing and Rolls-Royce and is managing partner of Bergmans PR Consultants. [2]

The forum is run as a non-profit organisation and since its inception has received sponsorship from a wide range of major arms companies. Ashby has faced controversy over being issued parliamentary passes, giving him privileged access to the House of Lords and ministers. As of March 2013 Ashby is listed on the Lord's Register of Member's Staff as working for former defence minister turned lobbyist Lord Moonie.

"Engaging the interest of MPs and Peers in defence issues"

According to UKDF's website in December 2007:

Put at its simplest, the Forum looks at where future wars may break out, why, and what the UK should do about it, and how industry would be affected. The Forum represents an opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to meet politicians, including those in Government, and to exchange information with them and others interested in defence and security. Papers are delivered by politicians, civil servants or industrialists. From the point of view of politicians, they are able to obtain insights into matters of mutual concern. Some of the papers after moderating are placed in the public domain.
The UK Defence Forum meets on a regular basis in London: meetings are attended by politicians, academic, senior industrialists, and military members. The Forum is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organisation, based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Supporters and benefits

Since 1996 UKDF says it has received contributions from the following companies for its activities:

Aspire Defence, BAE Systems, Babcock, Benromach Distillery, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Boeing, Capita Symonds, Carillion, Cockburn & Cambell Wines, Dalwhinnie United Distillers, EADS, EDS, Finmeccanica, G4S Government Services, General Dynamics, Hiberna]], Holdfast, HP, Johnny Walker, KBR, Lockheed Martin, MBDA, Manroy, Marshalls, Maersk, NDI, NewsDesk Media, Nexter, Northrop Grumman, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, QinetiQ, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce, Selex, Shepherd Neame, Smiths Detection, Thales, University of Warwick, Virgin Atlantic, VT Group, Worshipful Companies of Lightmongers; Armourers and Brasiers; Tinplate Workers; Young's Brewery, as well as generous private individuals. [3]


Sponsoring MPs' trips

Kevan Jones MP reports in the Register of Members Interests: '24-28 July 2005, to Washington DC, to meet congressional and business interests and British diplomats, to discuss UK/US defence trade, especially current technology transfer issues and UK/US defence policy. My flights and accommodation were paid for by the UK Defence Forum. (Registered 19 August 2005)'

Political donations

The UK Defence Forum is listed as having sponsored the Labour Party in 1997 in excess of £5,000[4]



As at May 2013 patrons also included:

All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces

The All-Party Register as of April 2013 states that the UK Defence Forum acts as an administrator for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces. This covers "administrative assistance, including arrangement of dinners, ‘Welcome Homes’ and other events. £8500 from Babcock International, £8300 from BAE Systems, £7500 from Finemeccanica, £2500 from Inchcape Shipping Services (registered October 2012). £2000 from Lockheed Martin, £7900 from Boeing, £400 from BAE Systems, £2200 from HP (registered February 2013)". No staff of the APPG holds a parliamentary pass.[5] APPG register lists have over several years previously named UK Defence Forum director Robin Ashby as holding a pass. [6][7][8]

Lord Moonie and Sir Bob Russell are co-treasurers of this APPG, which is chaired by Conservative James Gray.

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Defence and Security Issues

The purpose of this APPG is to 'explore short or long term issues which potentially could require responses from the UK's armed forces, blue light services, security and intelligence communities, industry or the civil power, alone, in coalitions or through membership of international bodies'. The group registered financial benefits from the UK Defence Forum in 2016 and 2017. [9]


Company details

  • Company Registration Number: 03215913

Website and social media


  1. About, UK Defence Forum website circa December 2007
  2. Robert Winnett, Lords scandal: Peer faces row over arms lobbyist, The Telegraph, 10:54PM GMT 26 Jan 2009
  3. Supporters and benefits, UKDF website, acc May 2013
  4. The Guardian 'Blair cuts union links with individual help: Labour's list of donors'. 31st August 1998
  5. House of Commons, Register Of All-Party Groups as at 29 April 2013, acc May 2013
  6. House of Commons, Register Of All-Party Groups as at 28 October 2011, PDF
  7. House of Commons, Register Of All-Party Groups as at September 2010, PDF
  8. House of Commons, Register Of All-Party Groups as at July 2010, PDF
  9. All-Party Parliamentary Group on Defence and Security Issues, Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as at 2 May 2017], House of Commons, accessed 21 August 2017