Strategy Network International

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Strategy Network International is a company set up by Sean Cleary. According to The Independent it was specifically created to lobby against economic sanctions and as a propagandist for UNITA, the Angolan opposition group, and for the so-called 'transitional government' of Namibia set up in defiance of UN resolution 435 on Namibian independence. The firm had an office in Clutha House at 10 Storey's Gate in London.[1] The company was dissolved 13 July 1994.[2]

Conservative Connections

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Strategy Network International paid for Conservative MPs to visit South Africa. Conservative MPs Neil Hamilton and Michael Colvin both failed to declare the trips on the members register of interests.[3] Current Prime Minister David Cameron also took advantage of a Strategy Network International trip to South Africa in 1989. The trip was offered to the Conservative Research Department by Derek Laud, who was employed by SNI and was later a contestant on the reality tv series Big Brother. [4]

South African Propaganda in Namibia

In 1985 former PR Consultant to the Namibian administration Sir Trevor Lloyd-Hughes, accused Strategy Network International of being controlled totally by Pretoria. Strategy Network International Ltd, was a new company lobbying for the Namibian regime and established by Steven Govier who was sacked by Trevor Lloyd Hughes earlier that year, and Patrick Wattson. Govier initially denied working for the South Africans insisting that he was employed by the Transitional Government of National Unity, the administration set up in Windhoek.

It later emerged that they were paid and instructed by a company called Transcontinental Consultancy and that its owner, Sean Cleary, had helped establish their office in London. Cleary was previously Director-General of the Administrator-General's office in Windhoek and an important South African diplomat who was instrumental in setting up the transitional administration.

He resigned from the civil service in to start Transcontinental and was promptly awarded four million rand (pounds 1.5 million) to act as consultant to the transitional government. Questions were raised at the time about the way this contract was awarded without consultation or tender.

The Times goes on to add:

"The company also appears to be acting as a recruiting agency for the South-West African Defence Force, the Namibian contingent of the South African Army fighting Swapo guerrillas in the territory. Mr Daniel Hill, an unemployed Irish citizen from Cardiff, approached the group two weeks ago and asked to join the Namibian armed forces. He said yesterday that Mr Watson had told him he would arrange for a visa and find out whether he could join the Army".[5]

Operation Agree

The company is described by The Guardian as being a key part of "an extensive network of right-wing organizations linked to the South African government". According to their investigation the company was "set up in the 1980s by Sean Cleary, a former South African diplomat who once served in Washington. Cleary's group spearheaded the 1989 election campaign in Namibia for pro-South African politicians running against the Namibian independence movement, Swapo". Subsequent investigations in South Africa have revealed that the anti-Swapo effort was the first part of "Operation Agree," a complex secret strategy by South African military intelligence designed to preserve South African economic dominance of the southern African region. Support for Jonas Savimbi's Unita in Angola's elections was the second phase of "Operation Agree," according to a former intelligence officer, Nico Basson, who gave extensive testimony during the investigation.[6]


  • Sean Cleary | Derek Laud
  • Westlex Registrars Limited NOMINEE SECRETARY 21 SOUTHAMPTON ROW LONDON WC1B 5HS Appointed: pre 19/07/1991 Nationality: BRITISH Appointments: 0
  • Patrick Watson (WATSON, PATRICK ADRIAN RICHARD JOHN MR) DIRECTOR 532 WANDSWORTH ROAD LONDON SW8 3JX Appointed: pre 19/07/1991 Nationality: BRITISH Date of Birth: 04/04/1955 Appointments: 3
  • Nigel Swain (SWAIN, NIGEL ROBERT MR) DIRECTOR 160 CLIVE ROAD WEST DULWICH LONDON SE21 8BP Appointed: 01/12/1991 Resigned: 07/07/1992 Nationality: BRITISH Date of Birth: 23/09/1957 Appointments: 1[7]


Storey's Gate | UNITA


  1. PATRICIA WYNN DAVIES, RICHARD DOWDEN and JOHN CARLIN, The Attack on Sleaze: How apartheid regime set out to woo Tories: Patricia Wynn Davies tells the story of the firm which gave MPs a South African perspective, The Independent, 26-October-1994, Accessed 11-September-2009
  2. data from Companies House, UK
  3. PATRICIA WYNN DAVIES, RICHARD DOWDEN and JOHN CARLIN, The Attack on Sleaze: How apartheid regime set out to woo Tories; Patricia Wynn Davies tells the story of the firm which gave MPs a South African perspective, The Independent, 26-October-1994, Accessed 11-September-2009
  4. Jane Merrick and James Hanning, Cameron's freebie to apartheid South Africa, The Independent, 26-April-2009, Accessed 11-September-2009
  5. Richard Dowden, Nambia regime blighted by propaganda feud in London / South Africa's attempts to gain international credibility for its administration, The Times, Accessed via Nexis UK, 2-November-1985, Accessed 11-September-2009
  6. Victoria Brittain,ANGOLAN WAR SPAWNS COMPLEX WEB OF PROFITEERS Fierce, deadly conflict continues, Insight Guardian News Service, 5-April-1993, Accessed 11-September-2009
  7. Source: companies House, UK, accessed 3 October 2009