David Cameron pushes Tycoon contract as Indian PM airs concerns over Anglo-Italian helicopter firm AgustaWestland 'corruption'

Allegations threaten £500m deal for AgustaWestland to transport VIPs

David Cameron was today confronted by his Indian counterpart over  "serious concerns" regarding corruption allegations that have engulfed the Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland helicopter company.

The British prime minister flew into Delhi from India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, for official talks with India’s premier, Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee. There were suggestions he may also meet Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress Party.

Before leaving Mumbai, Mr Cameron had told British media that he intended to argue the case for India to purchase the British-made Eurofighter Typhoon jets, even though his hosts had expressed their intention to sign a £6.4bn deal with French manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

“I think Typhoon is a superior aircraft,” said Mr Cameron. “I will obviously make clear that Typhoon is still available. This deal is clearly not the biggest item on this visit, but it is obviously a point we will make to the Indian authorities should they want to reconsider where they are.”

In Delhi, Mr Cameron and Mr Singh discussed a rang of subjects, including closer cooperation on counter-terrorism and cyber security, economic growth and the future in Afghanistan as Western troops prepare to sharply withdraw their numbers in 2014.

But during a joint press conference at Delhi’s Hyderabad House, Mr Singh appeared to somewhat surprise Mr Cameron by announcing that he had raised with him India’s concerns over corruption allegations that have threatened to wreck a £500m deal for AgustaWestland to provide 12 helicopters to transport so-called Indian VIPs.

“I conveyed to the Prime Minister our very serious concerns regarding allegations about unethical means used in securing the 2010 contract for AgustaWestland helicopters. I told him that we have sought an explanation from the company by February 22 to examine if the contractual conditions on unethical practices and the integrity pact have been violated,” said Mr Singh.

He added: “I have sought full assistance from the UK in this case. Prime Minister David Cameron has assured me of the co-operation of his government in the investigation.”

Mr Cameron responded by saying he was pleased Italy had launched an inquiry into the matter. He added: “In Britain, we have introduced anti-bribery legislation that is probably the strongest anywhere in the world and we will root out any problems of bribery and corruption wherever and whenever they appear.”

India has threatened to terminate the deal after Italian police arrested the former head of parent company Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, last week for allegedly paying bribes to Indian politicians to win the contract. AgustaWestland chief executive Bruno Spagnolini was also detained.

The Finmeccanica case has caused shockwaves in the defence industry in India, the world’s largest weapons importer. The defence ministry is considering cancelling the deal, which would put in question some £8bn in sales the Italian company is chasing. India has also launched its own investigation into the matter.

In today’s talks, Mr Singh and Mr Cameron agreed closer co-operation between the UK and India over cyber-security, which is expected to see the establishment of a joint task-force to share information on malicious IT attacks from criminal gangs, terrorists and state agents.

They also they signed a memorandum of understanding on bilateral civil nuclear co-operation. India already has a civil nuclear energy programme, delivering 3 per cent of the country’s electricity, but over the next 10 years Delhi wants to increase its nuclear generation fivefold.

Officials said today’s agreement will facilitate the involvement of UK firms like Rolls-Royce in the development of India’s nuclear capacity, by setting out arrangements for the transfer of sensitive technical information.

Both men stressed the importance of developing trade links between the UK and India. Mr Cameron has a target of doubling bilateral trade by 2015, and today said he wanted the accelerating growth in economic links to extend beyond that date.

Both he and Mr Singh agreed that their countries should be inextricably linked in the future and wanted to see a “very special partnership” develop between India and the UK, said Mr Cameron.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?