Admiral quits job amid lobbying row

Admiral Sir Trevor Soar
Admiral Sir Trevor Soar

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THE retired former captain of HMS Invincible has quit as a consultant for Babcock International after he was secretly filmed offering to ‘ignore’ a two-year ban on helping arms firms to win MoD contracts.

Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, who was commander-in-chief fleet of the Royal Navy until earlier this year, told Sunday Times journalists the ban, imposed by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACBA), was not a problem because it is not enforced.

The Admiral stepped down yesterday as the scandal caused by the newspaper sting took its toll.

A statement from Babcock said: ‘Sir Trevor Soar has expressed regret over the embarrassment caused by his interview, and his resignation has been accepted by the company.’

Sir Trevor applied to become a consultant for the defence firm one month after leaving the navy last March. He had secured the approval of the ACBA which said he was allowed to ‘provide strategic business advice not specific to defence or to specific contracts’.

Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, the former director of the Defence Academy, also severed ties with Babcock yesterday and resigned as president of the Royal British Legion.

Sir John was also filmed telling the reporters he could use his high-profile position for the charity to lobby ministers and could use his relationship with Babcock to help secure other contracts.

The company said Sir John had been an internal adviser and denied hiring him to lobby on its behalf.

Several others were filmed reportedly offering to lobby the MoD, including Lieutenant General Sir Richard Applegate, the former head of procurement, Lord Jock Stirrup, the former chief of defence staff, and former heads of the army General Sir Mike Jackson and General Lord Richard Dannatt.

All involved denied breaking any rules and insisted they had the best interests of the military at heart.

Defence secretary Philip Hammond said he was satisfied no retired officers had influenced military procurement but suggested all ex-military chiefs may now be barred from contact with ministers and MoD officials as a result of the scandal.

He said: ‘We have to look at the level of access we give retired officers to the Ministry of Defence and senior officers. If they are abusing that access for commercial purposes we will have to tighten that up or shut it down.’