Aegis Defence Services

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Previously known as Aegis Specialist Risk Management. Now known as GardaWorld International Protective 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 tonnes of arms to Sierra Leone in apparent violation of a UN weapons embargo and arrested in the 1997 abortive coup in Papua New Guinea. His friend and former Sandline business partner, the ex-SAS officer Simon Mann, also later made headlines for his role as manager of a thwarted coup plot in Equatorial Guinea in 2004. Frederick Forsyth, the author of Dogs of War, is an Aegis shareholder.

In October 2015 Aegis was acquired by GardaWorld. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, GardaWorld provides business solutions and security services and is the largest privately-owned security company in the world.


Aegis was founded by Tim Spicer in late 2002.[1]

Iraq Contract - Project Matrix

In March 2004, Aegis was awarded a $293 million dollar security contract in Iraq.[2] This contract is known internally as Project Matrix.[3]

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.

Spicer told journalist Robert Young Pelton that he bid for the contract after finding the US government's request for proposal on the internet:

However, multiple sources with intimate knowledge of Aegis's bid have alleged to me that PMO (Project Management Office) security chief Brigadier Anthony Hunter-Choat and Brigadier General James Ellery helped formulate the specifications for the RFP with Aegis in mind.[4]

Acording to a former employee of the PMO interviewed by Pelton, Ellery advised Spicer throughout the process.[5]

James Ellery was later employed at Aegis's Baghdad office. After the State Department demanded his dismissal, he left the country but was appointed to Aegis's board of directors.[6]

The contract award was the subject of a protest by rival US security company DynCorp.[7]

The firm employed 930 people in Iraq and besides coordinating 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. [ref/date?]

Employing ex-military from the controversial Deepcut barracks

In April 2006 Aegis suspended, then sacked, British ex-staff sergeant Michael Dauscha from his £80,000-a-year Baghdad security post following allegations published by the Mirror newspaper related to an official inquiry into the Deepcut barracks. [8] [9]

Nicholas Blake QC’s damning Deepcut Review Report revealed ‘systemic failures’ in dealing with bullying complaints at the UK training base, although he did not name those involved. [10]

Former instructor Dauscha had previously served at Deepcut for 13 months from 1998 until February 1999. Blake's official review into the suspicious deaths of four teenage recruits there did not implicate him, and Dauscha was not present when they died.

The Mirror’s front-page story originally identified Dauscha as one ‘Sergeant BB’, against whom Blake had found evidence of misconduct. A Royal Military Police investigation had recommended 11 charges against Sgt BB - all rejected by the Army Prosecuting Authority - a decision at which Blake had expressed surprise in his review.[11]

The Mirror based its claims on an interview with Dauscha’s brother David, along with several testimonies from former recruits alleging that the former instructor had badly mistreated them.[12] David Dauscha subsequently complained to the Press Complaints Council (PCC) that the relevant article ‘was inaccurate when it stated that he had identified his brother Michael as the infamous Sergeant BB in relation to the Deepcut report’. [13] The matter was resolved in June 2006 when the Mirror printed the following retraction:‎

ALTHOUGH David Dauscha confirmed to us (which we reported) that his brother, Michael, was "a violent psycho and a bully who is capable of anything", he did not identify his brother as - and was not aware that he was - Sgt BB in relation to the Deepcut report, as we claimed (Page 4, April 5 and early editions Page 5, April 6). [13] [14]

This retraction replaced the original article, and remained online with the accompanying articles, including the testimonies by former recruits, for eight more years until March 2014, when they disappeared without explanation.

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.[15]

IPOA membership bid

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 peacekeepers. The IPOA rejected Spicer's company in a vote. Spicer was 'surprised' by IPOA's initial rejection 'especially since we were invited to apply,' he said in a telephone interview with Corporate Watch in 2005.

PR and lobbying firms

Aegis are clients of The S.P.A. Way. a London-based PR firm run by Sara Pearson.[16] The company claims that it does not charge a fee unless its coverage meets three strict criteria, that it should:

  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[17]

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. [18]

Move to Switzerland

The Basler Zeitung reported on 9 August 2010, that Aegis had created a Swiss holding company based in Basel. The new company Aegis Group Holdings AG, had a capital of 225,000 Swiss Francs, and was headed by Kristian Meier.[19]

The Associated Press report that Aegis' seven owners had swapped their stakes in the UK company for shares in the Basel-based vehicle.[20]

David Isenberg reported for the Huffington Post:

A source sent me the Share Exchange Agreement detailing the conversion of Aegis Defence Services to Aegis Group Holdings AG, which was signed by all parties,
This is a straightforward share exchange whereby each of the shareholders has swapped their shares in the UK company for a new Swiss company set up to own the UK company. The SEA is the document which underlies the transfer of Aegis ownership and control "offshore" from the UK to Switzerland, presumably for tax efficiency. Assuming all operations, billings and management now takes place through the holding company, i.e., outside of UK tax jurisdiction and, reportedly, some of the shareholders have relocated to Switzerland for this purpose, then future profits will be subject to Swiss, not Uk taxes.[21]


  • Graham Binns - Chief executive
  • Oona Muirhead - CBE. Previously worked in the UK MOD for 23 years. Joined Aegis as Advisor on Regulation, Standards and Compliance in September 2012, and chairs Aegis’s Quality Management Review Board. Oona represents Aegis at the Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG) and was appointed onto the SCEG Executive Board in January 2013. Oona’s background is in defence, government relations and business support.
  • Graham Thomas - Managing director, Aegis Advisory
  • Anna Hensel - Director, Oil and Gas. She is 'responsible for business development for high threat security and risk consulting services'. Has extensive experience in the oil and gas industry and has previously worked for Marathon Oil and Amoco, where she advised on global policy and commercial initiatives.
  • Giles Harrison -Director Operations. Responsible for the delivery of Aegis security services globally. He was a colonel in the British Army, where he pursued a fast-track career. The highlights of his military career included managing a multi-stakeholder, multi-billion pound programme at the UK Ministry of Defence. [22]

Directors at 26 March 2010

Shareholders in period up to to 26 March 2010

Former Directors


References, Resources and Contact




  1. Robert Young Pelton, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, Crown, 2006, p.272.
  2. Robert Young Pelton, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, Crown, 2006, p.272.
  3. Steve Fanaru and Alec Klein, In Iraq, a Private Realm Of Intelligence-Gathering, Washington Post, 1 July 2007.
  4. Robert Young Pelton, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, Crown, 2006, p.277.
  5. Robert Young Pelton, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, Crown, 2006, p.279.
  6. Robert Young Pelton, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, Crown, 2006, p.279.
  7. Tony Geraghty, Guns For Hire: The Inside Story of Freelance Soldiering, Piatkus, 2007, p.31.
  8. Pete Samson and Victoria Ward, 'Bully, thug, thief cheat - by brother of soldier accused over army hell; exclusive exposed: deepcut sergeant psycho', The Mirror, April 5, 2006 Pg 4.
  9. Deepcut Dossier; Exposed: Deepcut Sergeant psycho, The Mirror, April 5, 2006 Pg. 5
  10. Nicholas Blake QC, ‘The Deepcut Review: A review of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of four soldiers at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut between 1995 and 2002’. Return to an Address of the Honourable the House of Commons dated 29th March 2006. See p.24 on the reasoning behind Blake’s decision on anonymity.
  11. See the Deepcut Review, pp 265-66 for Blake's view on the APA’s failure in this instance to consider the need to protect trainees from abuse: ‘The decision of the APA ‘prompts the question “who guards the guards?”’
  12. Pete Samson, '"He rode over me on a bike"; victims of Sgt psycho the overweight soldier ', The Mirror, April 6, 2006, Pg.5
  13. 13.0 13.1 Mr D K Dauscha, Publication Daily Mirror, Press Complaints Commission Report 73, Complaints dealt with during April 2006 – September 2006, p.39
  14. For the record, The Mirror, 7 June 2006
  15. Videos implicate Aegis Socialist Worker > archive > dated 15 April 2006 | issue 1996
  16. The S.P.A. Way - Those Who Pay Us
  17. The S.P.A. Way - Our Proposition
  18. Tim Spicer, An Unorthodox Soldier: Peace and War and the Sandline Affair, Mainstream Publishing, 2003, p187-188.
  19. Britische Privatarmee gründet Holding-Sitz in Basel, Basler Zeitung, 9 August 2010.
  20. Associated Press, Report: Security firm Aegis creates Swiss holding, Business Week, 9 August 2010.
  21. David Isenberg, Making a PSC Profit, Huffington Post, 17 August 2010.
  22. [ Aegis World - Who we are, Aegis website, undated, acc 10 February 2014
  23. Aegis Defence Services Limited, Annual Return, Companies House, 23 April 2010.
  24. Aegis Defence Services Limited, Annual Return, Companies House, 23 April 2010.