Exclusive: Conflict row as MoD top brass join contractors

Ex-mandarin now in charge of US giant's bid to manage his former department

The Ministry of Defence's relationship with big business is under fire as it emerged that the former head of strategic weapons is now working for an engineering giant which is bidding for sensitive military contracts.

Clive Billiald, who left the department earlier this year, is now a senior business development manager at US-based Bechtel. He is working on Bechtel's bid to take over Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), the £14bn-budget MoD agency that buys military helicopters and missiles.

Prior to looking after strategic weapons and a stint overseeing the construction of submarines, Mr Billiald was for two years a private secretary to the chief of defence materiel – the senior civil servant that looks after DE&S. The current chief, Bernard Gray, is trying to push through revolutionary plans to semi-privatise the agency in the hope that the private sector's commercial nous would lead to guns and ammo being bought at a cheaper price.

The MoD has been accused of having a "revolving door" policy on the private sector, which sees senior civil servants and generals end up in well-paid jobs with defence contractors that value their inside knowledge.

Critics believe that officials who have been privy to such sensitive matters of national security should receive at least short-term bans from working for companies that bid for MoD work.

A spokesman for the Public & Commercial Services union, which is concerned that outsourcing DE&S to the private sector could cost thousands of jobs at the agency's Bristol base, said: "Unfortunately this happens time and again. A senior MoD official leaves on the Friday and on the Monday is doing a very similar job for a defence contractor. Quite clearly there should be procedures to stop this happening."

Bechtel has already been criticised for hiring No. 10's former defence policy adviser, Richard Freer. He is currently working on a waste treatment project in the US, but is expected to ultimately look at defence bids for Bechtel.

The two consortiums – the other is led by CH2M Hill, the US engineer behind the London 2012 Olympics – pitching to run DE&S are ravaged by potential conflicts of interest. Many businesses within the consortiums work for defence giant BAE Systems, meaning they would be awarding lucrative contracts to a key customer.

A Whitehall source said: "This [Mr Billiald's employment with Bechtel] will no doubt raise more concerns about conflicts of interest and access around this controversial privatisation. It's frankly ridiculous that this appointment can be deemed acceptable given the commercial conflicts and concerns it raises."

Bechtel said: "We have fully complied with the Government's business appointment rules."

The MoD said: "All former MOD staff who take up posts in business are subject to the rules set out by the Independent Advisory Committee for Business Appointments."

Top men in the 'revolving door': How they switched to private firms

Dr Richard Freer A private secretary in the No. 10 policy unit, he swapped the MoD earlier this year for Bechtel.

Lt Gen Sir Mark Mans He announced formation of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, is now with Capita's defence division.

Brigadier Jim Bowden He was DIO's head of policy and strategy. Today he works for KBR, which has contracts with that agency.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific