Lewis Moonie

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Person.png Lewis Moonie  Rdf-icon.png
(lobbyist, politician)
Lewis Moonie.jpg
Born1947-02-25
Dundee
NationalityBritish
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh, University of St Andrews
SpouseSheila Ann Burt
PartyLabour Co-operative

Employment.png Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy

In office
12 June 1987 - 11 April 2005

Lord Lewis Moonie is a former Labour MP for Kircaldy (winner of seat in 1992, 1997 and 2001), and was Parliamentary under-secretary, Ministry of Defence until his resignation in 2003. [1]. He is now a Consultant for Sovereign Strategy; director for Mining Technology and director of AEA Technology [2]. He became Baron Moonie of Fife in May 2005.

His appointment as a director of Sovereign Strategy attracted attention, as both Alan Milburn and Moonie were fast-tracked by a government appointments watchdog to take up work with the Labour-donating lobbying company. Unusually, Sovereign Strategy is not a member of the lobbyists' professional body, the Association of Professional Political Consultants, which has a code of conduct not to employ or pay any MP, peer or MEP [3].


Moonie, QinetiQ & AEA Technology

When Moonie was defence minister he approved the conditions of the sale of QinetiQ which allowed the company and directors John Chisholm and Graham Love to make vast sums of money. John Chisholm turned an investment of £129,000 into £22 million when part of QinetiQ was sold privately in 2006, while Graham Love managed to turn a £108,000 investment into £18 million pounds. The Carlyle Group also benefited, buying a £42 million stake which it sold three years later for £300 million.[4].

How things have changed. As an opposition MP in 1995 Moonie strongly opposed the privitisation of AEA Technology telling the commons and the Minister responsible for the decision that "The facilities management division of AEA, as the Minister has described--the part responsible for providing infrastructure support and general services to all AEA's sites--is currently being flogged off to the highest bidder, despite the pleas of the work force and the Opposition to delay the decision until AEA's future is decided. I understand--the Minister confirmed it today--that the contract is to be awarded to a company called Procord, formerly part of IBM, which was run by the present chairman of AEA, Sir Anthony Cleaver, before taking up his present appointment. The Minister should be well aware of how unwholesome such a position might appear."[5] Moonie now sits on the board of AEA Technology.[6] The privatisation of AEA Technology, one of the last under the Tories, has been likened to the QinetiQ's sale. The Guardian notes

The broader issue is whether QinetiQ should be in the private sector at all, even if the government retains a golden share. It is hard to make the case on the basis of similar privatisations under the Tories. Amersham, Margaret Thatcher's first privatisation, was a shining success but QinetiQ most closely resembles AEA Technology, the former research arm of the Atomic Energy Agency and a stock market dog for most of its quoted life. Both make part of their profits through so-called dual-use technology - in other words, applying inventions from specialist areas such as defence or nuclear energy to other fields. QinetiQ's intellectual property, for example, includes rights over some liquid crystal displays and devices to warn of icebergs. The point about these research-led businesses is that they are only as good as their pipeline of inventions. Once they are given an incentive to maximise profits, even for the long term, the temptation is to skimp on pure research and watch cash roll in from proven technology. It works for a while but stores up problems. QinetiQ, inevitably, would tell us that it is different, but it would: it's got a £1bn float to promote. The reality is that control of a valuable national technological resource - "crown jewels," says Francis Tusa, the respected editor of Defence Analysis newsletter - will be passed from the Ministry of Defence, the only body that could hold QinetiQ to a public-service course, with very little debate. Treasury coffers will be boosted handsomely but the case for full flotation has simply not been made. However, there is perhaps only one piece of good news: the float prospectus may reveal in full what other national assets accompanied the 1901 census into this oddly-named company.[7] The article began by explaining that QinetiQ had acquired the rights to the 1901 census which they have subsequently sold to Friends Reunited for £3.3 million.

Moonie opposed the privitisation of AEA Technology when in opposition, yet in government Moonie oversaw the very similar privitisation of QinetiQ's research division. His role allowed John Chisholm, Graham Love, and The Carlyle Group to make millions from investments in the company. Furthermore as a board memeber of AEA Technology Moonie appears to have dramatically changed his position since his time in opposition. Speaking to the Guardian Lord Gillbert, who gave evidence to the National Audit Office in relation to the matter said:

At the time I told the defence secretary (George Robertson) that this would be a bloody scandel but the treasury under Gordon Brown insisted on selling a stake in the agency to cut the defence budget...Frankly the money made by by the leading civil servants was obscene. This is shown by the facts themselves. They did not contribute anything to the turnaround of the company.[8]

Affiliations


Resources


References

  1. Guardian Aristotle MP profile: Lewis Moonie, accessed 01 August 2007.
  2. They Work For You, Changes to the Register of Members' Interests, Lewis Moonie, accessed 01 August 2007.
  3. Hencke, David, "Ex-ministers cleared to work for lobbying firm," Guardian, 24 May 2005, accessed 28 November 2008.
  4. Hencke, David, "Auditors condem rushed MoD sale that turned civil servants into multimillionaires," Guardian, 21 November 2007, page 4.
  5. House of Commons, Debates, Column 714, Publications and records, 14 March 1995, accessed 21 November 2007.
  6. AEA Group, 2006/07 Annual Reports, accessed 21 November 2007.
  7. Business Notebook, "QinetiQ float is flogging the crown jewels," Guardian, 10 January 2006, accessed 22 November 2007.
  8. Hencke, David, "Auditors condemn rushed MoD sale that turned civil servants into multimillionaires," Guardian, 21 November 2007, page 4.
  9. Reuters, AEA Technology PLC - Director Declaration, 03 January 2008, accessed 28 November 2008.
  10. Mychasuk, E. and Terazono, E., "Laughs at Party," Financial Times, 14 December 2007, accessed 28 November 2008.