Geoff Hoon

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Person.png Geoff Hoon  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician)
Geoff Hoon Headshot.jpg
Born1953-12-06
Derby, Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom
Alma materJesus College (Cambridge)
ReligionAnglicanism
SpouseElaine Dumelow
PartyLabour
When put to Hoon in an interview that an Iraqi mother of a child killed by British cluster bombs would not thank the British Army, he replied "One day they might".

Employment.png Secretary of State for Transport Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
3 October 2008 - 5 June 2009
Preceded byRuth Kelly
Succeeded byAndrew Adonis

Employment.png Labour/Chief Whip

In office
28 June 2007 - 3 October 2008

Employment.png Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
28 June 2007 - 3 October 2008
Preceded byJacqui Smith

Employment.png Minister for Europe

In office
5 May 2006 - 27 June 2007

Employment.png Minister for Europe

In office
28 July 1999 - 11 October 1999

Employment.png Leader of the House of Commons Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
6 May 2005 - 5 May 2006
Preceded byPeter Hain
Succeeded byJack Straw

Employment.png Lord Privy Seal Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
6 May 2005 - 5 May 2006
Preceded byPeter Hain
Succeeded byJack Straw

Employment.png Secretary of State for Defence

In office
11 October 1999 - 6 May 2005
DeputyAdam Ingram
Preceded byGeorge Robertson
Succeeded byJohn Reid

Employment.png Member of Parliament for Ashfield

In office
10 April 1992 - 12 April 2010

Geoff Hoon is a British Labour Party politician who served as the secretary of state for defence from 1999 until 2005. Other posts included transport secretary, leader of the House of Commons and government chief whip. He was the MP for Ashfield from 1992 until 2010, when a cash-for-access lobbying scandal forced him to resign.

Hoon has been rewarded in the defence sector since leaving parliament, mainly with helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland which he joined in 2011. He stepped down as its international director in October 2016. [1]

In January 2022, after Tony Blair's knighthood, an article in the Daily Mail reported that Hoon said he was told to burn a secret memo which would have undermined the case for war in Iraq.[2]

Controversies and conflicts of interest

Resignation from Ministry of Transport

Hoon resigned as transport secretary in 2009 amid controversy over his MP expense claims. The Telegraph reports he had claimed expenses relating to two different properties at the same time. He apologised 'unreservedly' for the error. He 'is thought to have amassed a sizeable property portfolio worth more than £1.7 million'. [3]

Secretary of State for Defence

Geoff Hoon (right) at Pentagon briefing with Donald Rumsfeld

On 11 October 1999 Hoon was appointed Secretary of State for Defence.[4] His term took him through the 2000 British military intervention in the Sierra Leone Civil War and the NATO intervention in the 2001 insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia. The rest of his term was dominated by the start of the War on Terror in 2001, including British participation in both the War in Afghanistan, Operation Herrick, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Operation Telic.[5]

Asserting the importance of deterrence, in a 2003 interview on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost, Hoon asserted that the UK was willing to use nuclear weapons against Iraqi forces "in the right circumstances, namely in extreme self defence."[6][7]

On 23 June 2003, Hoon, following a detailed briefing given to the United Nations by US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, continued to claim that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile weapons laboratories.[8] This was in spite of the fact that it had been leaked to the press by David Kelly[9] and other weapons inspectors that they were nothing of the sort. The trailers were for filling hydrogen balloons for artillery ranging and were sold to Iraq by a British company, Marconi.[10]

In an April 2004 interview, Hoon said that more could have been done to help Kelly, who committed suicide on 17 July 2003 after being named as the source of Andrew Gilligan's disputed Today programme contribution.[11]

Hoon gave evidence about the Iraq war both to the 2003 Hutton Inquiry during his term,[5] and later on 19 January 2010 gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry about his time as Defence Secretary.[12]

One day they might thank us for killing them

Shortly after the US/UK led invasion of Iraq began in 2003, following an admission by the Ministry of Defence that Britain had dropped 50 airborne cluster bombs in the south of Iraq and left behind up to 800 unexploded bomblets, it was put to Hoon in a Radio 4 interview that an Iraqi mother of a child killed by these cluster bombs would not thank the British Army. He replied "One day they might." Hoon continued, "I accept that in the short term the consequences are terrible. No one minimises those and I'm not seeking to do so," he said. "But what I am saying is that this is a country that has been brutalised for decades by this appalling regime and that the restoration of that country to its own people, the possibility of their deciding for themselves their future ... and indeed the way in which they go about their lives, ultimately, yes, that will be a better place for people in Iraq."[13]

Lies on Extraordinary Rendition

Hoon was criticised by an international delegation of European MPs for evading questions about Britain's co-operation with the CIA's so-called 'extraordinary rendition' programme, even though he knew nothing about the programme.[14] Hoon, then Minister for Europe, was being quizzed in the wake of Dick Marty's Council of Europe [15] which found extensive involvement of European countries, including Britain, in the US kidnapping and torture programme.

Suspension from the Labour Party

In 2010 Hoon was suspended from the Labour Party after being secretly filmed by television programme Dispatches offering his consultancy services for £3000 a day. Hoon later issued an 'unreserved' apology for the filmed comments. [16] Hoon had told Dispatches that:

One of the challenges I think I am really looking forward to is sort of translating my knowledge and contacts about sort of international scene into something that bluntly makes money.

There will be opportunities for American companies, in particular, to look around at some (em) vulnerable European companies because those companies will become vulnerable as their own governments cut back on defence spending. I foresee, its one reason why I’m talking to American private equity firms, I foresee a period where we may well see American companies in effect, buying market share in Europe because they will be buying up national champions who are not getting the support they need to, to continue.

Human Rights complaint

Hoon filed several complaints with the European Court of Human Rights against the investigation, namely: that the parliamentary proceedings had violated his right to a fair hearing as he had not had access to a court to challenge the claims against him, and that the parliamentary authorities had failed to respect his right to private life.

In 2014, the Strasbourg court rejected his complaint that the investigation and report had breached his human rights. It claimed the complaint about his right to a fair hearing was inadmissible, and the 'interference' with Hoon's private life had been 'proportionate'. It added that Hoon's complaint about privacy was 'manifestly ill-founded'. [17]

Revolving door controversy

Acoba approval

Hoon launched his own transport consultancy TaylorHoon Strategy in September 2010.[16] The Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on Business Appointments ACOBA cleared his plans, with fairly standard conditions:

having left office over 12 months ago the Committee sees no reason why he should not immediately set up a consultancy, providing strategic advice to clients, subject to the conditions that for 2 years from his last day in office he should not draw on any privileged information that was available to him as a Minister, or undertake any work as a consultant which involves providing advice to any company or organisation on the terms of any bid or contract relating directly to the Department for Transport. Also for 2 years from his last day in office he should not become personally involved in lobbying UK Government Ministers or Crown servants, including Special Advisers, on behalf of his clients. If during that period, the nature of the consultancy changes in any way from providing strategic advice to clients, he should seek further advice from the Committee".[18]

AgustaWestland 'bribery' allegations

In May 2011 Hoon took up the role of executive senior vice-president of AgustaWestland, responsible for sales of helicopters outside the UK and Italy. [16].

This proved controversial because Hoon, while defence minister, had landed several contracts with the company. One was worth up to £1bn for 'FutureLynx' helicopters in 2005, awarded just two months after AgustaWestland had announced it would cut its 4000 West Country workforce by some 680. [19]

AgustaWestland also has been involved in several scandals, facing repeated accusations of bribery and falsifying invoices in helicopter sales to India, Algeria, Sweden and South Korea. The company was charged with bribery, along with two of its top officials, by the Italian court. [20]

As International Director Hoon was the face of AgustaWestland at international trade shows, speaking for the quality and performance of the helicopters while defending its ways to secure contracts. In an article for Defense World, Vishwanath Patil suggests that, while Hoon might not have been directly involved in the unethical procedures of securing Agusta Westland contracts, 'his spirited defence of a company against which the Italian court has established charges of bribery [...] shows a surprisingly high level of conviction'. DefenseWorld noted that the UK government had not investigated either Agusta Westland or the individuals involved in the scandal, which it speculated indicated the level of influence Hoon could still be holding on the UK government. [21]

From 1 January 2016, the activities of AgustaWestland were merged into Leonardo-Finmeccanica's Helicopter Sector, of which Hoon became Managing International Director until he stepped down in late 2016.

Strong support for Labour Friends of Israel

In November 2003 Hoon gave a speech to the United Jewish Israel Appeal, in which he declared that he is a 'strong supporter' of Labour Friends of Israel and a good friend of Trevor Chinn[22].

Video interviews

Hoon has been interviewed several times by the American think tank Center for a New American Security on Global Defence Markets and other related topics. [23] [24]

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Why Tony is right to entertain AssadArticle17 December 2002Rod LiddleBashar al Assad became the first Syrian leader to visit the United Kingdom in 2002.


References

  1. Geoff Hoon to depart AgustaWestland, 17 October 2016, accessed 14 September 2017
  2. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10369343/Tony-Blairs-Defence-Secretary-Geoff-Hoon-says-told-BURN-secret-Iraq-memo.html
  3. Robert Winnett, Geoff Hoon resigns amid expenses controversy, The Telegraph, 06 June 2009. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  4. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/471795.stm
  5. a b https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/jan/23/uk.military2
  6. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2717939.stm
  7. Geoff Hoon, interview by David Frost, Breakfast with Frost, BBC News, 23 February 2003
  8. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/vo030623/debtext/30623-02.htm
  9. http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/transcripts/hearing-trans17.htm
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/Iraq/Story/0,,977916,00.html
  11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3654913.stm
  12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8466828.stm
  13. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hoon-is-cruel--for-claims-on-cluster-bombs-claims-593447.html
  14. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hoon-unhelpful-and-evasive-about-american-rendition-flights-say-meps-419046.html
  15. http://assembly.coe.int/CommitteeDocs/2006/20060606_Ejdoc162006PartII-FINAL.pdf report
  16. a b c Geoff Hoon joins AgustaWestland, defencemanagement.com, 17 May 2011, accessed 13 June 2011
  17. European court rejects Geoff Hoon's human rights complaint, BBC News", 4 December 2014. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  18. Twelfth Report 2010-2011 Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, accessed 3 December 2014
  19. Mark Milner AgustaWestland given lifeline with MoD's £1bn order for Lynx, The Guardian, 25 March 2005, Accessed 28 September 2016.
  20. David Pallister, Geoff Hoon faces further corrupt pressures at Agusta Westland, Exaronews, 18 September 2015.
  21. Vishwanath Patil Leads To Agustawestland Bribery Case May Lie In The UK, DefenseWorld.net, May 7, 2016. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  22. Hoon, G. (2003) Speech by Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, to the United Jewish Israel Appeal. 13th November 2003. accessed 2nd July 2008
  23. Center for a New American Security, Geoff Hoon on Global Defense Markets, Youtube.com, May 15 2014. Accessed 28 September 2016.
  24. Center for a New American Security, Linda Hudson and Geoff Hoon on the Current and Future Defense Industry Environmen, Youtube.com, May 15 2014. Accessed 28 September 2016.
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