Former Hampshire chief constable to conduct arms deals probe

PROBE Paul Kernaghan is to head up inquiry
PROBE Paul Kernaghan is to head up inquiry

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A FORMER top police officer is probing claims ex-senior military figures arranged preferential access to ministers to push for multi-million-pound arms deals.

Paul Kernaghan is to investigate allegations made against ex-head of the Army Lord Dannatt and Lord Stirrup, former chief of the defence staff.

DENIAL Admiral Sir Trevor Soar

DENIAL Admiral Sir Trevor Soar

The probe comes in the wake of claims that retired military generals – including Lord Richard Dannatt and Lord Jock Stirrup – could give weapons manufacturers influence in Whitehall and Westminster.

Mr Kernaghan – who was Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary for nine years until 2008 – is House of Lords Commissioner for Standards.

He is responsible for investigating alleged breaches of the House of Lords Code of Conduct.

A spokesman confirmed a probe has been opened, but could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

He said: ‘The commissioner has opened an investigation into Lord Dannatt and Lord Stirrup.’

The investigation follows a national newspaper sting in which it is thought Lord Dannatt and Lord Stirrup were among six ex-senior military figures who spoke to undercover reporters.

The journalists posed as lobbyists representing a South Korean defence contractor who wanted to sell unmanned ‘drones’ which police the skies to the Ministry of Defence.

Others named include Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, the former commanding officer of HMS Invincible, Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, the ex-head of the Defence Academy and now president of the Royal British Legion and former MoD procurement Chief Lieutenant General Richard Applegate.

Sir Trevor is reported to have been caught on camera saying he could ignore a two-year ban on public service personnel lobbying for private firms. All the men involved denied breaking any rules and insisted they had the best interests of the military at heart. The MoD has said it is already looking into whether any rules have been flouted and whether it was possible for anyone to secure ‘privileged access’.

Defence secretary Philip Hammond has said retired senior military officers could have their access to ministers and officials shut down if it is discovered that the system has been abused.

Mr Hammond, however, has said he was satisfied the system in place for procuring military equipment is ‘completely robust’.