BRITISH security firms have been accused of making vast profits from misery in the world’s war zones.

In a damning report, leading charity War on Want say that Britain is at the centre of a growing global mercenary industry.

Control Risks – whose chairman is a Scots business leader – is one of the UK companies criticised in the report.

War on Want are calling on the UK Government to halt the “privatisation of war” by banning the firms from operating in war zones.

John Hilary, executive director at War on Want, said: “Private military contractors ran amok in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving a trail of human rights abuses in their wake.

“Now we are seeing the alarming rise of mercenaries fighting on the front line in conflict zones across the world, it is the return of the Dogs of War. For too long, this murky world of guns for hire has been allowed to grow unchecked.

“The time has come to ban companies from operating in conflict zones and end the privatisation of war.”

The chairman of Control Risks – named in the report alongside G4S and Olive Group – is Crawford Gillies, a director with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Standard Life.

He is a former chairman of both Scottish Enterprise and the Confederation of British Industry and is on the board of Control Risks alongside an ex-CIA agent and a former SAS officer.

War on Want say the use of private armies by foreign governments and corporations is increasing because “states and companies seek to evade responsibility for the use of violent and often deadly force”.

Many of the private security firms are hired to protect the oil and gas sector in Iraq.

War on Want’s report says hundreds of new private military and security companies (PMSCs) have been established recently in a secretive industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

This has led to human rights abuses, a flourishing weapons trade and political destabilisation.

War on Want argue the UK Government are complicit because they have allowed mercenaries to regulate themselves.

“The industry will continue to grow unchecked unless it is brought under control,” the report added.

Regarding Control Risks, War on Want say the firm operate in war zones across the world and that most of their staff are ex-members of the military and intelligence services.

The report says: “The company’s Middle East operations are overseen by Andreas Carleton-Smith, an ex-SAS officer, while its Iraq operations are headed by David Amos, an ex-officer in the British Army, who now leads more than 1200 people with 340 armoured vehicles across the country.

“Eddie Everett, formerly of the special forces, manages the company’s global client services, while Jim Brooks is CEO of its American arm. Brooks is ex-CIA, and worked for the agency supporting its worldwide paramilitary operations, and as a Navy SEAL adviser to Latin American security services.”

No fewer than 14 PMSCs are based in Hereford, close to the headquarters of the SAS, while at least 46 companies employ former UK special forces.

The UK Foreign Office have awarded contracts to PMSCs in conflict zones with a value of around £50million each year.

This includes nearly £150million between 2007 and 2012 in Iraq.

The UK Government, Control Risks and Olive Group declined to comment. G4S said: ‘The report makes a number of mistaken assumptions about our industry.

“In limited circumstances, we deploy highly trained armed security specialists to complex environments, often to support humanitarian operations, to protect critical national infra-structure or help companies looking to invest in local economies.

“However, nowhere do we operate in military combat situations.”

This article was published by the Sunday Mail on 8th February 2o16.

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