Aegis Defence Services
Based in London, the company was founded by former Scots Guard Tim Spicer who made headlines with the Sandline affair when he was caught shipping 30 tons of arms to Sierra Leone in apparent violation of a UN weapons embargo and arrested in the abortive coup in Papua New Guinea. One of his friends, the ex-SAS officer Simon Mann, is in a Zimbabwean jail accused of plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea. Frederick Forsyth, the author of 'Dogs of War', is one of its shareholders.
The firm recently signed a new contract with the Pentagon worth $145m (£79m) over protests from its American competitors. This is an extension of the earlier $293 million 'cost plus' contract that it had signed with the Pentagon in May 2003.
According to Naomi Klein, the CPA's Project Management Office contracted with the firm to protect its employees from "assassination, kidnapping, injury and "embarrassment." In a separate contract, the firm also provides security for employees working on the Iraqi Oil-for-Food corruption inquiry.
The firm employs a total of 930 people in Iraq and besides co-ordinating communications between coalition forces, civilian contractors working on reconstruction projects, and their private security firms, it also provides bodyguards for senior American and Iraqi officials. It operates one national and six regional command-centres and acts as a link between coalition forces and civilian contractors on security issues, relaying information on rebel activity.
In November 2005 Aegis tried to join the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), the only trade organization for security contractors. Aegis' membership bid comes just as the IPOA is trying to reposition the industry as for-profit providers of armed men as peace keepers. In a vote several months ago, IPOA rejected Spicer's company. Spicer was 'surprised' by IPOA's initial rejection 'especially since we were invited to apply,' he said in a recent telephone interview with Corporate Watch.
Employing ex military bullies from Deepcut
- Sergeant Michael Dauscha was dismissed from the army after being caught stealing from a supermarket. He stands accused of being involved in systematic cruelty at the Deepcut barracks. He ended up working for a private army in Iraq. In March’s official report into four deaths at the Deepcut army base he was identified only as Sergeant BB and slammed for his “foul abuse” of recruits. The ex-staff sergeant was at Deepcut for 13 months between 1998 and 1999.
- Last month’s report by QC Nicholas Blake accused Sergeant BB of hitting male and female recruits, making crude sexual taunts at women and humiliating others at Deepcut in Surrey. He once rode a bike over three squaddies. Dauscha was not at Deepcut when four teenage recruits died between 1995 and 2002 and the report did not implicate him. But the military police recommended he face 11 abuse charges from his time there.
- Dauscha ended up working in Iraq for security firm Aegis. Aegis has a $293 million Pentagon contract to coordinate the dozens of private security forces operating in Iraq as well as providing its own teams of bodyguards to the Pentagon. There are 50 private security companies in Iraq, with an estimated 20,000 hired guns working for them. Aegis is supposed to coordinate them all.
- Aegis Defence Services had profits of £62 million last year. Rt Hon Field Marshal Lord Inge, the former head of the British army, is a non excutive director of Aegis. Inge sat as part of the team that cleared the government over its claims of weapons of mass destruction in the Butler report. Right wing novelist Frederick Forsyth is also a major shareholder.
- Despite now being sacked from his £80,000 a year Baghdad post with Aegis, Dauscha said, “They’ve been very supportive. I’ll probably be going back to Iraq shortly.” Aegis is run by Tim Spicer, a former army lieutenant colonel. Two soldiers in a British military unit under Spicer’s command shot and killed a Catholic teenager, Peter McBride, in Northern Ireland in 1992. The soldiers were subsequently convicted of murder, yet Spicer has steadfastly defended them.
Trophy videos in Iraq
- Rod Stoner, a former British army officer and Aegis employee, who worked for the company between 2004 and 2005, posted videos on the internet implicating Aegis in shooting civilians in Iraq. According to a statement from Stoner, “We don’t know whether it was an innocent civilian or whether that was an insurgent—we don’t know, because we never stop.”
- The series of “trophy” videos appear to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on “Route Irish”, a road that links the airport to Baghdad.
- In one of the videos, a car is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes into a taxi. In another, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the car before it comes to a slow stop.
- Despite denying that the videos had anything to do with Aegis employees, the security company got a high court injunction last Friday against Stoner. This closed down the website and prohibited him from speaking to the press.
PR and Lobbying Firms
- 1. Be an original piece set up by the Agency
- 2. Be in the agreed media
- 3. Carry a minimum of 2 of the 3 agreed messages
A great deal of coverage of Aegis in the UK media could arguably be seen as fitting these requirements.
Pearson's association with Aegis boss Tim Spicer goes back to 1997 when the two were introduced through Michael Grunberg. Pearson hosted the press conference that took place on Spicer's return to Britain following the Sandline Affair in Papua New Guinea. 
Board of Directors
- Field Marshal the Lord Inge KG GCB DL: Chairman (Non-executive)
- Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer OBE: Chief Executive
- Mark Bullough: Director
- Jeffrey Day: Director
- Dominic Armstrong: Director
- Brigadier James Ellery CBE: Director
- John Davidson: Director, Operations
- The Hon. Nicholas Soames MP: Director (Non-executive)
- General Sir Roger Wheeler: GCB CBE: Director (Non-executive)
- Richard Slowe: Director (Non-executive)
- Sir John Birch KCVO CMG: Director (Non-executive)
- Robert McFarlane: Director (Non-executive)
References, Resources and Contact
- Robert Baer, Iraq's Mercenary King, Vanity Fair, April 2007
- Max Hastings, We must fight our instinctive distaste for mercenaries, The Guardian, 2 August 2006.
- War on Want Corporations and Conflict: Corporate Mercenaries General press release: 'CURB PRIVATE MILITARY FIRMS' CALL TO BLAIR' EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs, Monday 30 October 2006.
- Alec Klein, For Security in Iraq, a Turn to British Know-How, Washington Post, 24 August 2007.
- Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, Iraq's hired hands under fire as the pot of gold starts to run low, Guardian, 22 September 2007.
- Simon Basketter 'Bullying sergeant went from Deepcut barracks to Iraq' Socialist Worker > archive > dated 15 April 2006 | issue 1996
- Videos implicate Aegis Socialist Worker > archive > dated 15 April 2006 | issue 1996
- The S.P.A. Way - Those Who Pay Us
- Our Proposition
- Tim Spicer, An Unorthodox Soldier: Peace and War and the Sandline Affair, Mainstream Publishing, 2003, p187-188.