`I took all steps to be well briefed' come 4/30 pt of spacey type type

BY CHRIS BLACKHURST

and TIM LAXTON

Jonathan Aitken worked hard for his £10,000 a year as a director of BMARC. He did far more than attend the occasional board meeting in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

"Like any responsible non-executive," wrote Mr Aitken earlier this month, "I took all reasonable steps to become well briefed on the company's activities. In my case, these steps included receiving briefings from the managing director and other executive directors of the company; visiting the company's factory, testing facilities and offices; talking to executives and employees in the course of these visits and generally obtaining a rounded picture of the company's current activities and future prospects."

The MP would meet directors in London, see them for lunch at their offices in St James's Place, London. With Gerald James, the company's former chairman, he went to Geneva, to introduce him to well-connected Saudi Arabian contacts.

Through an intermediary, the MP managed to secure a contract for BMARC to supply weapons to minesweepers being built for Saudi Arabia by Vosper Thorneycroft.

The company and the MP developed increasingly close links in the 1980s. From going to him with routine political problems, Astra started to ask him to help with business matters as well. In July 1987, the company told him it was looking for a public relations adviser. Mr Aitken suggested a friend, Maureen Tomison.

Ms Tomison subsequently formed her own lobbying firm, Decision Makers. It was this firm, with Angela Rumbold MP, the Tory party vice-chairman on its board, that was at the centre of the recent row about the decision to award the Channel Rail terminal to Ebbsfleet in Kent.

For Astra, Decision Makers lobbied the Government to try to secure a review of a contract awarding 80 per cent of the MoD's munitions orders to Royal Ordnance, its arch-rival. Ms Tomison spoke to George Younger, then Secretary of State for Defence.

In September 1988, Mr Aitken joined the BMARC board. In June 1992, when he was appointed minister for defence procurement, the MoD explained his BMARC appointment, saying: "Astra suggested he should become a director of BMARC, saying that his experience as an international merchant banker would be helpful ... Mr Aitken quite properly had several discussions with members of the BMARC board about exports to various countries."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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 General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine