Andrew Mitchell denies 'rogue minister' accusation after controversially approving £16 million Rwanda aid package on last day as International Development Secretary

 

The former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell today denied he acted as a “rogue minister” when he controversially approved £16 million in aid for Rwanda on his last day in the job.

In his first public appearance since being forced to resign as Chief Whip Mr Mitchell admitted to MPs that he had taken the decision to hand over the aid despite the Rwandan Government failing to fully comply with three conditions set out by David Cameron.

The bilateral had been suspended over the summer after an interim report by the United Nations suggested Rwanda was stoking up armed conflict in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

But Mr Mitchell denied that his close links with Rwandan President Paul Kagame had influenced his move to restore the aid which, he said, had been agreed across Government.

“The British Government decided - not some rogue minister - what was the right response,” Mr Mitchell told the House of Commons International Development Committee.

He added: “The decisions were made entirely properly through cross-government consultation, all relevant departments and ministers being consulted and that was how we reached our decision.”

Mr Mitchell revealed that, highly unusually, he learnt a week before the September Cabinet reshuffle that David Cameron was planning to make him Chief Whip.

As a result, he said he made an effort to finalise outstanding decisions in order to leave a clear desk for his successor.

The £16 million amounted to half of Britain's annual budget support to Mr Kagame's administration, and had already been delayed from July because of concerns over the situation in the DRC, said Mr Mitchell. Because of the Kigali government's failure to live up fully to conditions laid down by Mr Cameron, it was decided to channel half of the money directly to education and agriculture projects in the country, rather than giving it to the Rwandan government to spend.

New International Development Secretary Justine Greening will decide whether to press ahead with the remaining £16 million aid, due at the end of 2012, after the final report of the group of experts on Rwanda is delivered to the UN at the end of November, he said.

Mr Mitchell said that, while countries including Germany and the Netherlands had suspended direct support to the Kagame government, the EU continued its aid programme unchanged, while the US cut $200,000 (£125,000) from military support but pressed ahead with a much larger $160 million (£100 million) programme of development aid.

“This suggestion that Britain has gone out on a limb here isn't true,” he told the committee.

Mr Mitchell added: “Taking away budget support would have no effect on the elite in Kigali, but it would, bluntly, take girls out of school elsewhere in that country. It might make us feel better to remove budget support and avoid taking these difficult decisions, but it would not affect who makes decisions in Kigali and it would have the effect of damaging the poverty programme.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works