The Sleazy State: Questions that still have to be answered: The Future

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The Independent Online
HOW much do we know about the scandals of the 1980s which are spilling over into the 1990s?

THE ARMS TRADE: The Scott inquiry, set up by John Major as evidence of the Government's commitment to openness, is only looking at Iraq. Questions have also been raised about British arms sales to Iran. British companies have periodically admitted breaching arms embargoes. Royal Ordnance conceded in the mid-1980s that it had supplied material which ended up in Iran. It is not known how much official encouragement the British defence industry received from the Government. Are Supergun and Matrix Churchill the tip of an iceberg?

SAUDI ARABIA: Massive commission payments were allegedly paid to the middlemen who brokered the world's largest arms contract, worth pounds 20bn, between London and Riyadh in 1985. The National Audit Office has refused to publish a report which investigated the payments.

POLITICAL FUNDING: The Conservatives admitted they had received pounds 440,000 from the disgraced tycoon Asil Nadir, now exiled in northern Cyrpus. But the party has refused to disclose the identities of many other donors. The Labour Party, meanwhile, said it had received pounds 11,000 from a disgraced Greek Cypriot tycoon, also a fugitive from justice. It also declined to detail other donors.

PRIVATISATION: The Government gave British Aerospace a financial 'sweetener' to buy the state-owned car company, Rover. Now British Aerospace has sold it on to BMW. Consultancies proliferated in local government and the NHS. Who profited from the privatisation policy?

PUBLIC SERVICES: Repeated scandals in the National Health Service have shown that vast sums have been wasted - up to pounds 63m at Wessex - and exposed widespread, sometimes criminal, abuse of ethical practice. But the cases which have come to public attention are few. How frequent is mismanagement - and how much money has been lost as a result?

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