Fife arms firm wines and dines UK ministers

A US arms firm based in Fife has held 84 meetings with the UK government since the Tories came to power.

Raytheon has wined and dined powerful MPs and treated a minister at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to a traditional Burns Supper.

The US multinational, which has been linked to alleged war crimes in Yemen, has had 11 hours of meetings with the Prime Minister’s office, according to Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Raytheon produces guidance systems for Paveway IV smart bombs at its factory in Glenrothes, which have been supplied to Saudi Arabia and used in Yemen’s war.

The Saudis have been accused of dozens of war crimes piling pressure on the UK government to suspend arms sales to its ally, as Germany did recently.

But the government has refused to stop selling bombs, prompting widespread criticism and allegations of UK complicity in war crimes.

Ministers have now been accused of kowtowing to corporate interests after intense lobbying by Raytheon.

Yemen: hundreds of alleged war crimes but only 79 investigations

The firm’s meetings with government included 41 when the Defence and Security Organisation was present, a body that exists solely to promote arms exports.

In August 2018 Raytheon hosted a dinner with Stuart Andrew MP, the Minister for Defence Procurement, while in July they met with former Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb.

These meetings followed a Burns Supper in January when Raytheon hosted Mark Lancaster, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces.

Three senior MoD officials have ended up working at Raytheon, including the former acting director of the ministry’s Saudi Armed Forces Project. The board chairman of Raytheon UK is a Tory peer, Lord Strathclyde.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “Raytheon is a disgraceful and morally bankrupt company. Its weapons have been used in atrocities and have had a devastating impact around the world. Its bombs and missiles are playing a central role in the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen.

“Despite its long and shameful history of arming and supporting human rights abusing regimes and dictatorships, Raytheon enjoys extremely high level access to the corridors of power.

“The company can only get away with the terrible things it does because of the complicity and support of arms dealing governments. It’s time to end the cozy relationship between Westminster, Whitehall and those that fuel and profit from war.”

Scottish Greens international relations spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP, said: “It’s no surprise that a Tory government at Westminster treats arms dealers and the brutal regimes they supply like dear friends. That does not make these new revelations any less appalling though. It’s time the intimate access these dealers of death receive to the UK government is cut off completely and their sales licenses revoked.”

Raytheon is one of the sponsors of an international arms fair in Britain this week with the Royal Saudi Land Forces listed as a guest,

Other states with dire human rights records due to attend the International Armoured Vehicles Conference at Twickenham Stadium in London include the UAE and Turkey.

Raytheon has received £200,590 in grants from Scottish Enterprise in recent years. In 2016 The Ferret reported the company’s previous hospitality for ministers.

US arms firm linked to alleged war crimes had 57 private meetings with UK Government

The firm employs more than 700 engineers, programme managers and scientists in Glenrothes and its contribution to the UK economy is around £700 million each year.

A UK government spokesperson said: “It is entirely normal for ministers to meet with suppliers to the government.”

Raytheon declined to comment.

A version of this story was published in the Sunday Mail on 20 January 2019.

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