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.

peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits