Royal British Legion president Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely resigns over lobbying allegations

 

The president of the Royal British Legion has become the first high profile casualty from allegations about former commanders offering to lobby for lucrative defence contracts on behalf of arms companies.

Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely resigned today ahead of the Legion setting up an inquiry into his conduct. The distinguished and decorated 64-year-old Falklands veteran acknowledged that he had made “exaggerated and foolish claims” about his access to people in power and this made it “inappropriate” for him to remain at his post. He continued to insist, however, that he had not broken Whitehall rules on the issue.

The Ministry of Defence has set up an inquiry into the allegations. Serving chiefs of staff in the military, meanwhile, are furious at the adverse publicity generated by the newspaper “sting” in which some of the most senior former officers in the country were secretly filmed boasting about how much influence they can wield in securing commercial contracts.

“It is appalling and sends exactly the wrong message at a time when there are cutbacks and redundancies across the services” said a senior officer. “The irony is that it isn’t at all easy for outsiders to influence defence contracts under the rules which have been brought in. There was a lot of bluster involved in this, but what has happened is pretty damaging. We will wait and see what the terms of this [MoD] inquiry are before considering taking any further steps.”

As well as General Kiszely, who is also a former head of the Defence Academy, the undercover reporting by the Sunday Times focused on General Lord Dannatt, a former head of the Army; Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, the former second in command of the Royal Navy and Lieutenant-General Richard Applegate, the Army’s former chief of procurement. All these men have denied any wrongdoing.

Admiral Soar was filmed saying he was prepared to “ignore” a stipulation that personnel should not take part in lobbying for two years after leaving the service. But the newspaper investigation, which lasted three months, appears to have failed to unearth any overt breaking of the rules.

Many in military circles are surprised by the naivety of those who had been stung. The Independent has learned that one of those targeted is said to have been struck by “puzzling lack of knowledge” on defence matters displayed by the undercover reporters who were supposedly representing a South Korean arms company. Another was sent a contractual letter to sign which repeatedly and prominently mentioned lobbying and talked of getting access to military intelligence —with the m and i in capitals —- and “unusual language” for such a contract. Alarm bells were, however, late in ringing.

Sir John’s position was seen as untenable after he was taped talking about the Remembrance Day ceremony as a “tremendous networking opportunity”. In other events he would be able to speak to the prime minister, the defence secretary and the chief of defence staff. “You are standing there waiting for the Queen with nothing else to talk about”, he stated.

Chris Simpkins, director general of the Legion, praised Gen Kiszely’s “commitment and dedication” and said it had been a “great honour” for the organisation to be associated with him. But, he went on: “The Legion's work, including Remembrance events, must be kept free of any suggestion that they could be used for commercial or political gain. Sir John's remarks suggested otherwise. ”Sir John's resignation has been accepted. His successor as national president, who had been identified some weeks ago, will be announced shortly.“

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?