Fiji reacts angrily to its depiction in Patrick Mercer lobbying affair

 

The government of Fiji has reacted angrily to the country's depiction in an undercover investigation that led to the resignation of MP Patrick Mercer.

The joint Panorama-Telegraph investigation saw a fake company which purported to lobby on behalf of Fijian business interests approach the Newark MP in a bid to build support for the country to be re-admitted to the Commonwealth.

It is alleged that Mr Mercer accepted £4,000 to lobby for business interests in Fiji, whose membership from the Commonwealth was suspended in 2009 amid criticism of its human rights' record and lack of democracy.

Hugo Swire, the Foreign Office minister, was subsequently forced to respond to parliamentary questions about Fiji tabled by Mr Mercer. The MP resigned the Tory whip in the wake of the allegations.

But the government of Fiji spoke out against how their country had been presented in the aftermath of the sting, insisting that the image of Fiji being put forward was rooted in "the past not the present".

"The effort to clean up their government is no excuse for the astonishing ignorance displayed by the British media and, regrettably, the British Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire, in his answers to questions in the House of Commons," the statement said.

The statement added Fiji was on the cusp of finalising a new Constitution and preparing for democratic parliamentary elections in 2014. "It is disappointing that there has been little recognition from Fiji's former colonial ruler of the changes and progress being made by the Bainimarama Government to establish a modern, progressive state."

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