The British American Project (BAP) the BBC and New Trust chairman Rona Fairhead

The British American Project (BAP), the BBC and New Trust chairman Rona Fairhead

The acting chair of the BBC Trust this year was Diane Coyle, an early recruit to the BAP at the same time as Naughtie and Peter (now Lord) Mandelson. The new BBC trust chair, Rona Fairhead, is a close Tory friend of Chancellor George Osborne. Lord Stevenson, (a key figure in the BAP network and in the 2008 banking collapse), appointed Rona Fairhead to her first senior position at Pearson Publishing.

Margaret Hill, BBC chief editorial adviser, is a long-standing member of the British American Project whose members now seem to fill more and more of the time of the corporation’s cash-strapped current affairs output. Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman was for many years poster boy on the BAP website (his photograph was recently removed); James Naughtie and Evan Davis, (now with Newsnight) regularly host the BBC Radio 4 Today programme with frequent BAP guests including David Willetts, Col.Bob Stewart, Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander. A typical Today schedule is likely to contain three or four BAP members, none of whom disclose their membership to the listeners who have funded their extracurricular transatlantic bonding through licence fees or taxes going towards the Foreign Office subventions to the BAP.


Mexican Drug Cartels – Money laundering – HSBC – New BBC Trust Chair Appointment Akin to Putting Bankster Foxes In Charge Of The BBC Henhouse

BBC Trust chairman scandal – money laundering – HSBC $1.9bn fine – deferred prosecution agreement – What Next?


1. Rona Alison Haig – Her career before the BBC trust chairman appointment

a. Rona Haig was born in Cumbria in 1961. Her parents are Scots who hailed from Edinburgh where their families were well connected in Scottish society. Educated at Yarm Grammar School, near Stockton-on-Tees, North East England before attending St Catharine’s College, Cambridge; she was president of the University’s law society before graduating with a double first in law (LL.B). She later obtained a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.


b. Haig’s early business career was spent at consultants Bain & Company. She was one of the 100-plus “Bainies” who worked on the notorious Guinness acquisition of Distillers. “It was a huge success aside from the scandal,” she says.   The business exposed one of the all-time financial scandals which resulted in Ernest Saunders, Chairman of Guinness and three other senior financial movers being jailed for corruption and fraud. Full report here:


c. She also worked for Morgan Stanley, again in the 1980s, before she moved to British Aerospace as an independent consultant in 1991. Later in 1991 she moved to Short Brothers shortly after it was bought by Bombardier Inc. She rose to become vice-president for corporate strategy and public affairs in 1994 and then vice-president, UK aerospace services in 1995.


d. In 1996, she became director of planning and acquisitions for Imperial Chemical Industries before joining the company’s executive management team as executive vice-president for planning and communications in 1997, and continuing as executive vice-president for strategy and control from 1998 to 2001. From 2002 to 2006, Haig served as chief financial officer for Pearson PLC.


e. As Fairhead she moved to the Financial Times Group (a subsidiary of Pearson) in 2006 as chief executive. She oversaw the sale of several of the group’s other titles during her tenure. She also serves as a non-executive director on the boards of several large corporations, including HSBC Holdings and PepsiCo and as a “business ambassador” for UK Trade & Investment.

Rona Fairhead

f. She stepped down from her Financial Times role in 2013 after being overlooked for the position of Chair of the Pearson Group when the post was vacated by the previous incumbent, Marjorie Scardino. Her leaving package was estimated to be worth over £1 million in addition to stock options estimated at over £3 million—a contributing factor to a shareholder revolt at Pearson’s annual general meeting in April 2014. Comments in the press at the time:

“It’s unusual—rare, even—for the CEO of a major financial news and information concern to serve on the board of directors of a giant global bank. There’s a reason for that. Rona Fairhead, who heads the Financial Times Group, the unit of British publishing and education giant Pearson PLC that owns the Financial Times newspaper, sits on the board of HSBC, the banking behemoth now engulfed in a money-laundering and corporate-governance scandal.


Long story short, a Senate report this week found that HSBC let Mexican drug lords launder billions in blood money, intentionally helped rogue states, especially Iran, get around U.S. sanctions, and did business with an Al Qaeda-connected Saudi bank. That’s quite a list, and it’s just a partial one for the sake of brevity.  So, the FT has to cover the HSBC scandal, while the CEO of its parent is on the board responsible for the bank’s oversight. Not helping matters, Fairhead chaired the board’s Audit Committee, which at the time, was broadly responsible for making sure management’s internal controls were adequate. Those systems failed, and amidst several law-enforcement investigations into its anti-money laundering controls, the bank created a Risk Committee, which Fairhead heads. The FT hasn’t mentioned its boss’s position in its coverage, though to be fair, no one else has either. But it’s the FT reporters who must report on a company that includes the boss on the board. – See more at:


g. She and her husband Tom are close friends of George Osborne, his wife and the Tory party inner circle. They also readily mix with the Downton Abbey estate set in which they have one of their homes.

Downton Set

2. July 31 2014: The hunt for a new BBC Trust boss has become a mess

a. Two more leading candidates have pulled out of the race to become the new head of the BBC Trust amid accusations that the process has descended into a “mess”. Sir Howard Stringer, the former Sony chief executive, and Michael Portillo, the former Conservative defence secretary, were both approached about the role but decided not to apply. A total of nine candidates have now pulled out including Lord Coe, the Olympics chief who had been the Prime Minister’s preferred choice, Dame Marjorie Scardino, the former chief executive of Pearson, and Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of the Arts Council.


b. Despite the setbacks Sir Jeremy Heywood, cabinet secretary, and leader of the UK’s civil service exercising his power decided to press on and will begin interviewing the remaining shortlisted candidates today. Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, believes that the shortlist remains “strong”. However Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC, said that the job is “unattractive” because the trust is likely to be abolished under the royal charter review in 2016.


3. August 31 2014: Rona Fairhead named as the government’s favoured candidate to take over as BBC Trust chairman.

a. Fairhead, a non-executive director of HSBC and PepsiCo, (she chairs the bank’s North American board and sits on the nominations and risk committees) will be questioned by the Commons media committee before ministers make the final decision. If selected, she would make history by becoming the first female chairman of the trust.


b. Announcing the selection of Mrs Fairhead yesterday, Mr Javid appeared confident she had all the necessary attributes to take on the job. He said: “Rona Fairhead is an exceptional individual with a highly impressive career history. Her experience of working with huge multinational corporations will undoubtedly be a real asset at the BBC Trust. “I have no doubt she will provide the strong leadership the position demands and will prove to be a worthy champion of licence fee payers. “I am sure that under Rona’s leadership the BBC will continue to play a central role in informing, educating and entertaining the nation.”

c. Fairhead has strong Conservative Party political connections serving as a non-executive director at the Cabinet Office, a role she will be required to relinquish if her appointment is confirmed. Awarded a CBE in 2012 and appointed as one of the Prime Minister’s business ambassadors earlier this year she, at the start of her tenure of office will take on the difficult task of renegotiating the corporation’s funding agreement ahead of the new royal charter being granted in 2016. There is also likely to be a heated debate over the future of the licence fee, with many complaining that they should not have to pay the £145.50 annual levy.

MoS2 Template Master

d. Fairhead said: “The BBC is a great British institution packed with talented people, and I would be honoured to have the opportunity to be the chairman of the BBC Trust. “I am under no illusions about the significance and the enormity of the job but I am excited to have the chance to lead the BBC through the coming years.”. David Cameron will have a final official say on the appointment, ahead of formal approval from the Queen.


4. September 1 2014: Rona Fairhead to be the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the BBC – Excuse me but I am still reeling from shock

a. Rona Fairhead is Chair of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. According to Andrew Trotman in the Telegraph, at the time HSBC were fined $1.9bn in the US for money laundering, she was chair of the, “group risk committee” and was replaced in that role when the bank signed their deferred prosecution agreement.


b. David Cameron approved her appointment (probably insisted on it). Remember it was David Cameron who made Stephen Green a Lord and trade minister, the man who was the Chair of HSBC Group at the time of the Mexican drug money laundering and sanctions busting/terrorist connections.

c. This is extraordinary arrogance by the establishment – to blatantly appoint people involved in such crimes. Laundering drug/terrorist money is not just about money and the law – it is about large scale murder, torture and human suffering. Rather than holding top positions in the establishment these people should be in prison.


d. I guess the appointment might help explain why 2 teams from Panorama; Newsnight, Moneybox and Radio5 Live have all looked with at the story and subsequently not reported it. They certainly won’t now.

e. I assume that Rona Fairhead will relinquish her role at HSBC on taking up the appointment, but given the arrogance of these people I wouldn’t bet on it.


5. September 1 2014: Rona Fairhead, the Government’s preferred candidate to take over as the BBC’s first female chairman faces a grilling from the Media Select Committee

a. Fairhead will appear before a Commons select committee next week before a final decision is reached over the BBC Trust role. The former head of the Financial Times group has been approved by the Prime Minister to succeed Lord Patten. If confirmed in the post, she will be paid £110,000 a year for a three-day working week.

Steve Bell 28.11.14

b. Tory MP Philip Davies, a member of the culture, media and sport select committee, said she faced questions over her role as a non-executive director on the board of banking giant HSBC. The banking group was fined £1.2billion in 2012 for breaching US money-laundering laws and was described as the ‘bank of choice’ for Mexican drug gangs. Mr Davies said: ‘I want to know what she knew about that scandal and what she did to try to prevent it and what she did to investigate it. ‘Second, there is a question mark over her lack of experience in broadcasting and the regulation of broadcasting, which are obviously key elements of being the BBC Trust chairman.’ Mr Davies added: ‘We need to ask if she only got the job because she is a woman. I am not saying that Rona Fairhead is the wrong candidate, but our job as a committee is to ask searching questions of any candidate who is put forward for this job.’

c. She could also face questions over her political links, having been appointed as a British business ambassador by David Cameron earlier this year. She is also a non-executive member of the Cabinet Office board but will stand down if her selection to chair the BBC Trust is confirmed. Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was on the preliminary interview panel for candidates for the BBC Trust role. After questioning Mrs Fairhead on Tuesday of next week, members of the Commons select committee will vote on whether they believe she is a suitable candidate and their decision will be put before Mr Cameron for final approval.

Cameron Largess

6.September 10 2014: Preferred BBC Trust chair candidate Rona Fairhead defends licence fee during CMS committee appearance

a. Businesswoman Rona Fairhead told MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee she was not “an establishment figure” and shrugged off reports she had been offered the job because the Government wanted a woman in the role. She said she had been approached by head-hunters and had not discussed her application with anyone in the Government, saying: “I felt the process was, for my mind, a standard process.”

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b. Fairhead said the BBC’s governance structure was “very complex”, but added: “If I didn’t think it was workable at all, I wouldn’t have taken on the role”. She told MPs the licence fee was the “most appropriate way to fund” the corporation. She said: “When I look at the current system on a licence fee basis, I think there are some very, very, significant benefits of the licence fee. It ensures independence, it ensures a universal service for a universal fee and I think it ensures creative freedom.”

c. The former chief executive of the Financial Times group is the Government’s “preferred candidate” to head up the Trust. Asked by committee member Philip Davies MP if she was “an establishment figure”, she said: “I would not have counted myself as an establishment figure and I hope through this process you’ll see I’m independent of mind and view.”


d. Fairhead said there was “very little doubt” the BBC “has had a tough time over recent years” but it remained “a vitally important institution in the UK”. She refused to comment on whether her immediate predecessor, a former Conservative MP, had done a good job and said she had never “been politically active”. She told MPs her husband had been a Conservative councillor, adding: “But it’s not my husband applying for this role, it’s myself.”

e. Fairhead, who confirmed she received a pay-off of more than £1m when she left her previous role at Pearson, said criticism of excessive pay-offs at the BBC had been “legitimate”. The corporation was heavily criticised over excessive payouts given to senior staff including £470,000 to former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days in the job and £680,000 to former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. Deputy director general Mark Byford departed the BBC with a total payout of £949,000. Fairhead said her pay-off was “clearly a lot of money”, adding: “I’m not going to apologise that I came from the private sector but I think when you’re in the public sector world you have to look at funding through a different lens.”


f. Alternatives to the BBC’s traditional funding method have been proposed by politicians, performers and former corporation staff in the run-up to the renewal of its charter, which expires in 2016. In May, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said “everything” would be looked at, including licence fees and governance structures, when negotiations get under way. Senior Tories have previously called the compulsory annual charge made to viewers – currently frozen at £145.50 a year – out of date and warned it faces the axe but BBC executives insist a subscription system could end up costing more money. The renewal negotiations will take place on the back of a torrid few years that have seen the corporation lambasted for its handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal, massive executive pay-offs and a Newsnight investigation that led to the late Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse.

7. September 2014: Rona Fairhead. The BBC’s chairman-elect is being sued over her involvement in the HSBC money-laundering scandal.

a. Rona Fairhead, who is set to become the first woman to lead the corporation, had her appointment approved by MPs yesterday. But hours after the Commons hearing it emerged the 53-year-old is facing a class action lawsuit by HSBC shareholders over allegations the bank allowed terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to launder money. Mrs Fairhead chaired the bank’s ‘risk committee’ in 2012, when it was fined £1.2billion by US authorities to settle allegations that it allowed drug traffickers to launder millions of pounds. The bank was also accused of breaching sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Libya, Burma and Zimbabwe.


b. Michael Mason-Mahon, an HSBC shareholder who filed the case in a New York court on May 7, said it would be an ‘obscene joke’ to appoint Mrs Fairhead to head the BBC given her senior role at the bank. He wants the US courts to force her and 88 other directors to repay the fines the bank incurred over the scandal. He said: ‘Mrs Fairhead’s credentials are great, as long as you ignore what she’s done at HSBC for the past ten years. Read more:

December 16, 2012

8. September 12 2014: Putting the bankster foxes in charge of the BBC henhouse

a. What a rare moment of razor-sharp clarity this week as a spotlight was shone deep into the rotten heart of Westminster, Whitehall and the City of London. The Daily Mail revealed, one day after her appointment, that new BBC chief, Rona Fairhead, is being sued for supervising the laundering of billions of dollars for the Mexican drug cartels. From the Establishment dominated corporation there was not a hint of repentance, instead a secret gagging edict was issued to BBC staff not to mention or discuss the fact anywhere, specially on social media. Rather than running the BBC as HSBC ‘Head of Risk’ Ms. Fairhead has just been appointed to do, the bank’s crooked bosses should be being investigated by the corporation and prosecuted by Scotland Yard.

b. Not only have the bank that was built on the illegal Hong Kong Shanghai opium trade committed every fraud in the book, they were also fleecing rail passengers in a cartel of three Rolling Stock Operating Companies (ROSCOs). HSBC owned until 2010 ‘Eversholt Rail Group’, which has a virtual monopoly in leasing trains to privatised operating companies which mean British commuters pay up to ten times more than their continental counterparts to get to and from work every day. Millions of Brits await the BBC Panorama documentary exposing Rona’s firm’s crimes but we better not hold our breath if she is allowed to take up her post.


9. October 9 2014: Rona Fairhead, former head of the Financial Times Group, has been officially confirmed as the chairwoman of the BBC Trust.

a. The new chair remains a non-executive director of both HSBC and PepsiCo. As the first woman to be appointed, Rona Fairhead had to answer MP’s questions about her ability to look after her children if she took on the extra workload and about her husband’s political affiliations. She also refuted the implication that she had been favoured for the role because she is a woman – Is gender important to the trust role? “No, it should be the person who has skills for role.” – If it is true that PM Cameron preferred a woman for the role he did indeed get his wish on gender and merit. Fairhead is widely accepted as a worthy choice and a strong leader.

10. November 13 2014: BBC Trust Chairman, (chairman of HSBC North America Holdings Inc) caught up in bank scandal

a. The new, £110,000, part-time BBC Trust chairman, Rona Fairhead – there to keep the Corporation honest – must be embarrassed by HSBC’s multi-million-pound fine for rigging foreign exchange markets. She is a highly-paid non-executive director of the bank in Britain and chairman of HSBC North America, which in 2012 was fined $1.9billion by US authorities for failing to implement money-laundering controls. I hope this doesn’t deter the BBC from opening this can of worms.


11. October 21 2014: BBC Trust chair and culture secretary give evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport committee

a. Grilled on the future of the BBC. Culture Secretary Sajid Javid says a “fresh look” at BBC governance model is needed and he is “ruling nothing out” looking at future funding options for the BBC but the Royal Charter will remain in place, other options risk threat to independence.

b. Fairhead denies “going native” after just two weeks in the role but says the controversial plan to move BBC3 online only “in and of itself good”


12. November 7 2014: MP’s write to BBC Tust chairman asking that all Political parties be included in the 2015 election television debates.

13. Thomas Fairhead Husband of Rona Haig. fingers in many pies.

a. His family tree can be traced back to the 13th century. Major landowners in Essex and the south East of England – Tory party – major figures in London financial markets


b. Tom is chief executive of Campbell Lutyens. a group of private companies focused on building materials and waste management and renewables infrastructure. He is an Honorary Alderman of The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, a London Borough which is one of the few European public authorities rated AAA by Standard & Poors, and for 6 years from 2004 to 2010 he was the Cabinet Member with responsibility for its finances. Previously he had spent ten years at Credit Suisse First Boston specialising in international mergers and acquisitions and in technical and financial engineering.

c. September 15 2014: But the neighbours are not happy. Tom Fairhead, plans to construct a huge waste centre in rural Essex, to the horror of the locals.


d. New BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead, won over MPs when she was grilled at Westminster last week, but her husband Tom needs to embark on his own charm offensive. His company, Gent Fairhead, plans to construct a huge waste centre in rural Essex, to the horror of the locals. Mirroring a storyline from BBC radio drama The Archers, the plans include a controversial anaerobic digestion plant, which treats organic waste to create electricity. Opponents point to the smell and noise, as well as heavy vehicles coming in and out of the plant, which will be one of the largest waste facilities in Europe.

e. James Abbott, a Green Party councillor, leading opposition to the waste centre. ‘The Fairheads are big landowners who are trying to urbanise and industrialise this area. I own land myself, but I want to keep it countryside.’ the proposed plant, at RAF Rivenhall, a disused Second World War airfield near Braintree, will handle more than 800,000 tonnes of industrial and commercial waste. Abbott opposes the size of the plant, arguing that waste will be brought in from around the country and Europe to a location that is completely unsuitable. He claims up to 400 vehicle movements a day will be added to a busy A-road that is already a hotspot for collisions.


f. Ex-merchant banker Tom is a former Tory councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, who lives with Rona in a £4million home in West London. They are said to be friendly with Chancellor George Osborne and his wife, Frances. They also rent a home in the grounds of Highclere Castle — where Downton Abbey is filmed — in Hampshire. ‘He is from a big land-owning family in the area and yet not one of the Conservatives who control the county council declared an interest,’ says Abbott. ‘It could be that none of them know him, but I’d be surprised.’


g. A spokesman for Fairhead’s project team has said it is committed to sustainability. ‘The project will provide a fully integrated state-of-the-art recycling and recovery facility,’ he said. ‘Work that has been completed over the past few years has developed a design that promotes best technology and environmental sustainability.’
Read more:


The British American Project – The Corrupting Secret Alliance Hidden From The Public





British-American Project. A leadership network celebrating and encouraging the transatlantic relationship



Political Elite Networks Exercise Real Power

The power of networks is considerable – they ensure the flow of money, people, and ideas that strengthen certain lines of thought and action while simultaneously marginalising others. Networks tend to legitimise some ideas and policies, making them “normal” or “conventional”, beyond dispute at basic level. They tend to unify a range of people and organisations – public and private – and help develop new ideas or leaders. Being elite networks, they are by definition well connected with the media and politics and thereby gain a broader audience, skewing the “free market of ideas” in specific directions.

it is not only the extreme right in British and American “mainstream” politics that maintains such “charitable” networks: the British-American Project, funded by major oil and other corporations and by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the subject of little public awareness or enquiry, represents a similar network on the centre-left, along lines Tony Blair and Gordon Brown approved. Indeed, it complemented the various schemes under which the future leaders of “New” Labour were primed for high office, under the tutelage of the FCO’s Jonathan Powell, who later went on to become Blair’s chief of staff. Indeed, Powell was a member of BAP, as was David Miliband for many years.

The leftwing journalist John Pilger, who has been uncovering American manipulation of other countries’ politics for decades, described BAP as a “casual freemasonry” and “by far the most influential transatlantic network of politicians, journalists and academics”. The historian Frances Stonor Saunders, who has written extensively about the American use of earlier, similar networks to influence western opinion during the cold war, sees close parallels with BAP: “All that’s changed is that BAP are much more sophisticated.”





How the Anglo-American Elite Shares It’s ‘Values’

When the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke about his government’s devotion to the United States being, “founded on the values we share”, he was echoing his then Foreign Office minister Kim Howells, who was preparing to welcome the Saudi dictator to Britain with effusions of “shared values”. The meaning was the same in both cases. The values shared are those of rapacious power and wealth, with democracy and human rights irrelevant, as the bloodbath in Iraq and the suffering of the Palestinians attest, to name only two examples. The “values we share” are celebrated by a shadowy organisation. This is the British-American Project for the Successor Generation (BAP), set up in 1985 with money from a Philadelphia trust with a long history of supporting right-wing causes. Although the BAP does not publicly acknowledge this origin.





The British-American Project for the Successor Generation is a Transatlantic Fellowship (BAP)

November 1981, three weeks after CND had held its biggest ever protest in London, Reagan made a speech in Washington warning that “some young people do not understand. why we need nuclear weapons and Nato’s roots in defending freedom.”Margaret Thatcher was deeply unpopular, and the Labour opposition influenced by an anti-Washington party membership, a new British official attitude to America looked quite likely. “It is possible to argue that had a Labour government been formed,” the historian Peter Jones wrote of the early 1980s in his book America and The British Labour Party, “it would almost certainly have led to a complete collapse of the ‘special relationship’.”

A 27-year-old British economist called Nick Butler decided to intervene. For someone of his age and profession, he already had unusually useful and diverse connections: he worked for BP, but he was also treasurer of the influential left-leaning pressure group the Fabian Society and a promising junior player in the Labour party. He also loved America. “The UK was in a bad state,” he says. At the same time, he felt the Labour party needed fresh ideas from abroad. “My perspective then was that my generation – I would have been described as ‘right wing’ in the 1982 Labour party – were totally stifled here. No prospect of being in power.”

That spring, Butler wrote a memo proposing “some form of regular contact for Britons and Americans”, to reduce “hostility to all things American” promoting “mutual understanding over a wide range of policies, how cities are regenerated, how market forces worked, and so on.” For the membership of what was to become BAP, he had a specific transatlantic group in mind: “Bright people, in many different fields, who were likely to influence outcomes in those fields. People who were interesting. Interested in change. In doing things. In progress.”




In tandem with Butler, responding to a growing anxiety in Washington about the increasing opposition in Britain to nuclear weapons, especially the stationing of cruise missiles in Europe, President Reagan in 1983 making numerous references to “shared values” called for “successor generations” on both sides of the Atlantic to “work together in the future on defence and security matters”. “A special concern,” he said, “will be the successor generations, as these younger people are the ones who will have to work together in the future on defence and security issues.” A new, preferably young elite – journalists, academics, economists, “civil society” and liberal community leaders of one sort or another – would offset the growing “anti-Americanism”. Attending the opening ceremony in the White House Situation Room were the ideologues George Gallup, chairman of the polling organisation, Joachim Maitre, “coming as personal representative of Axel Springer, German publishing executive.” Rupert Murdoch and the late James Goldsmith, founding members of  ‘Project Democracy’ a group of wealthy businessmen,(each contributing $300,000) President Reagan had put together to ‘support democratic institutions abroad’.

Butler’s gifts for alliance-building and persuasion turned BAP from a paper proposal into an international organisation in less than three years. Between 1982 and its first conference in 1985, he recruited a shrewdly broad range of supporters, co-founders and financial backers: Sir Charles Villiers, a liberal Tory businessman with a long personal attachment to America; the US embassy in London, which gave Butler a grant to go to Washington to test reactions to the BAP idea; and the Pew Charitable Trusts, a very large and wealthy American foundation.

BAP was subsequently founded in 1985 “to perpetuate the close relationship between the United States and Britain through transatlantic friendships and professional contacts”.  Regular meetings would be instituted comprising 24 Americans and 24 Britons aged between 28 and 40 who by virtue of their present accomplishments had given indication that, in the succeeding generation, they would be leaders in their country and perhaps internationally.


Rupert Murdoch



Subsequent discussions resulted in a grant underwriting the first three years of the Project. Advisory Boards were established in the US and Britain. The School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, would administer the American side. The Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, London, would serve a similar function in Britain. From that time, alternate conferences lasting approximately four days have been held annually in the US and Britain. All expenses including travel are paid for first-time delegates. Initially topics for study and discussion were proposed by Chatham House and SAIS.

There are now over 1,000 leaders, rising stars and opinion formers from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political views. It is an elite corporate/political talking and networking organisation. Members include some of the most powerful men and women in the UK. Its aims are to ensure that the left and liberal intelligentsia are not hostile to US foreign policy interests. It holds an annual conference to which journalists are not invited and at which everything said is, officially at least, not to be repeated to outsiders. It rarely features in the mainstream media, instead, it makes tantalisingly vague and fleeting appearances in those corners of the internet where conspiracy aficionados gather.

BAP is unashamedly a vehicle for American foreign policy, recruiting Britons of liberal or left-of-centre inclinations and political talent and connections when they are young, indoctrinating them with propaganda about the virtues of American capitalism and America’s role in the world, and then watching them approvingly as they steer British politics in an ever more pro-Washington direction. The project’s greatest success has been New Labour.


Sir James Goldsmith



BAP conferences are held alternately in the US and Britain. Since 1985, BAP “alumni” and “fellows” have been brought together courtesy of Coca-Cola, Unilever, Monsanto, Saatchi, Philip Morris, Coopers & Lybrand, American Express, Apple, British Airways, BP, Cadbury Schweppes, Camelot and other multinationals. Busy politicians and other public figures have crossed the Atlantic, some of them repeatedly, to attend BAP conferences, which can last for five days. One member describes proceedings as “a quasi-religious experience. Nick Butler, formerly a top dog at BP, continues to be a leading light.

The aims of the network, according to David Willetts, the former director of studies at Britain’s right-wing Centre for Policy Studies, are simply to “help reinforce Anglo-American links, especially if some members already do or will occupy positions of influence”. A former British ambassador to Washington, Sir John Kerr, was more direct. In a speech to BAP members, he said the organisation’s “powerful combination of eminent Fellows and close Atlantic links threatened to put the embassy out of a job”. An American BAP organiser describes the BAP network as committed to “grooming leaders” while promoting “the leading global role that [the US and Britain continue to play”.








1997-New Labour Elected to Office

In the summer of 1997, a few weeks after New Labour won power, a striking article about the election appeared in a privately circulated newsletter. Under the cryptic headline Big Swing To BAP, the article began, “No less than four British-American Project fellows and one advisory board member have been appointed to ministerial posts in the new Labour government.” A list of the names of these five people and of other New Labour appointees who were members of BAP followed, Mo Mowlam, Chris Smith, Peter Mandelson, Baroness Symons, George Robertson, Jonathan Powell (Blair’s chief of staff), Geoff Mulgan and Matthew Taylor.

Other New Labour names: Baroness Scotland, Douglas Alexander, the precocious Foreign Office and Trade Minister, Baroness Scotland, the politically favoured criminal justice minister; Julia Hobsbawm, a prominent public relations executive and New Labour associate; Adair Turner, a senior business ally of Labour and author of the recent official report on the future of pensions, Geoff Mulgan, Matthew Taylor and David Miliband. Some are Fabian Society members and describe themselves as being “on the left”. Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is another member.

Prominent journalists also mentioned; David Lipsey, who offered the view that, “BAP was one of a number of streams that came together in New Labour.” Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and assorted Murdochites. The BBC is well represented: James Naughtie, whose broadcasting has long reflected his own transatlantic interests, has been an alumnus since 1989. Newsnight’s newest voice, Evan Davis, formerly the BBC’s zealous economics editor, is a member. BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman is a BAP poster boy.





The Blair Brown years

Butler has maintained and extended his political and commercial connections like a model member of the “successor generation”. He remains close to Mandelson and other senior New Labour figures. Thanks in part to Butler, BP – where he became, Group Vice-President for Strategy and Policy Development – became known as “Blair Petroleum” for the warmth of its relations with Downing Street.

December 2001, in response to a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, Tony Blair said that the organisation “arranges meetings, including with ministers, for young leaders from the business, economic, professional, cultural, artistic, governmental, academic, scientific, medical, military and social life of the two countries”.

Each autumn, BAP hires a hotel, or a large part of one, for a long weekend, alternating between British and American venues. Conference rooms are reserved, boardroom-style tables arranged, themes chosen for discussion. A purposeful timetable of seminars and larger gatherings, dinners and group excursions is drawn up. Lighter interludes are scheduled for drinking and bonding and organised fun- but the overall atmosphere remains somewhere between an international summit and a corporate retreat for young executives. Even at the more intimate seminars, there are papers and water jugs on the tables, and some of the men like to keep their ties on.

The 2002 conference reported, “Many BAP alumni are directly involved with US and UK military and defence establishments. An account followed of a conference excursion to the Pentagon: “Our BAP group was welcomed as ‘old friends’.” Butler is frank about the link. “The military are quite important, quite influential.”





UK members of the British-American Project include:

Douglas Alexander; Foreign Office and trade minister.

Wendy Alexander; former Scottish Executive minister.

Allyson Stewart-Allen; Brand expert Allyson Stewart-Allen, founder and CEO of global consultancy International Marketing Partners. An active Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Fellow of the British American Project, Member of the Marketing Society, Member of the American Marketing Association, International Women’s Forum and Senior Advisory Board member of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Allyson holds a BSc in International Business from the University of Southern California and MBA from Claremont Graduate University under the direct tutelage of Dr. Peter Drucker. A British and US dual-national, she has been London-based since 1988.

Michael Barber; University of London education specialist. Was, for a short time, a policy official at the National Union of Teachers. Undertook role of principal policy adviser to then Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

Brian Barton; 1998. MD, The Turquoise Holiday Company, Beaconsfield

Rob Beckley; 1997. Chief Operating Officer, College of Policing, London

Douglas Board; Member of Treasury team with Jill Rutter. Attended 1988 BAP gathering in St Louis.

Group Captain David Bolton; Director of the Royal United Services Institute, Britain’s senior defence forum Provided a different professional perspective on traditional links across the Atlantic: even in the military sphere,”connections had faded”. With the reduction in the size of forces and the opportunities to serve together, the number of personal contacts was greatly diminished.





George Brock; Foreign editor of the Times. Was a BAP participant in 1990.

Caroline St John-Brooks; Former colleague of David Lipsey at New Society and the Sunday Times. After a spell working with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris was appointed to edit Rupert Murdoch’s Times Educational Supplement.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown; Columnist and broadcaster. Editor of the New Statesman. Freelance writer whose work appears widely. Attended 1988 BAP gathering in St Louis.

Becky Bryan; Defence analyst, later BBC reporter. SDP candidate for East Hampshire in 1983.

Tom Burke; Director of the Green Alliance. Adviser to David Owen. Adviser to Conservative governments. One of a batch of younger SDP figures selected by the UK board for Successor Generation membership in its early days a decade ago.

Nick Butler; BP group vice-president, strategy and policy development. An old Streatham Labour party friend of Lipsey’s from the Seventies, Butler is a central figure in the British-American Project. Alongside a career in British Petroleum, Butler combined political activity in the Fabians (for many years he was its treasurer), Chatham House and Konigswinter with writing for the US Council for Foreign Relations journal Foreign Affairs. The Cambridge-educated Butler jointly authored with Neil Kinnock Why Vote Labour in 1979 and through the Fabian Society was deeply involved in the former Labour leader’s successful efforts to move the party away from unilateral nuclear disarmament in the late Eighties. His wife, a former senior BBC current affairs executive, now works for the Institute for Public Policy Research. Butler has been deeply involved in the BAP programme from the outset. He was UK treasurer when, in 1984, the Pew Trust – a big funder of the right-wing Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute at the time – chipped in with the $425,000 launch money. After Robertson, he is the senior Labour member of the UK advisory board, which is chaired by the former conservative Foreign Secretary and NATO secretary general Lord Carrington. The two other party political members of that board are Alan Lee Williams and Lord Holme of Cheltenham.

Sarah Churchwell; 2007 UK’m Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at UEA, and a journalist and broadcaster.

Murphy Cobbing; Senior BBC producer. Treasurer of BAP.


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Dr Christopher Coker; Original member of BAP. Defence expert and lecturer at the London School of Economics with distinctly conservative views.

Hillary Coffman; Married to David Hill, (see below)

Stephen Colegrave; 1999. Managing Director & Founder, Boston Books Ltd, London

Penny Cooper; Communist party and NUS colleague of Sue Slipman’s. Founder member of the SDP.

Christopher Cragg; Financial Times. Was a BAP participant in 1990.

Diane Coyle; Treasury economist and former economics editor of the Independent. Acting head of the BBC Trust following resignation of Lord Patten.

Stephen Dorrell; former Conservative health secretary

Iain Elliott; Associate Director of the CIA-funded Radio Liberty and former editor of Soviet Analyst. Attended 1988 BAP gathering in St Louis.

Peter Florence; 1993 Runs the Hay Festivals which are held every year in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, India and Africa.

Daniel Franklin; Executive Editor of the Economist

Gloria Franklin; Headed the Ministry of Defence’s civilian think-tank. Responsible for the annual Defence White Paper.

Tim Gardam; Editor of the BBC TV current affairs programme, Panorama,





Sarah Gee; 2004 Sarah was elected as a fellow of the British American Project and in 2009 was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA).

Andrew Gimson; Conservative Central Office researcher who was then editorial page editor of the Independent newspaper. Attended 1988 BAP gathering in St Louis.

Colleen Graffy; Academic director of Pepperdine’s London Law Program, has become the new chairwoman of the Society of English and American Lawyers (SEAL), an organization designed to promote friendship, co-operation and understanding among English and American lawyers.

Haani Ul Hasnain; 2006. Chief Inspiration Engineer, Harmonised World, Newcastle

David Hill; onetime bagman for Roy Hattersley, who now works for the giant Bell Pottinger PR operation so successfully stung by The Independent under its new editor Chris Blackhurst. Sister is Margaret Hill (below). Married to Hillary Coffman, (see above).

Jane Hill; BBC news presenter. Attended 2005. has a Politics degree from London University, and worked for the Democrats in the US Senate after graduation in 1991. Jane is a Fellow of the British American Project

Margaret Hill; BBC chief editorial adviser current affairs. Was a BAP participant in 1990.

Isabel Hilton; Editor-in-Chief of Open Democracy (left 2007). Formerly a BBC journalist. Expert in Chinese affairs MA Edinburgh.

Steve Hilton; Conservative special adviser.





Julia Hobsbawm; public relations consultant. trustee of the Jewish Community Centre for London

Peter Jukes; 1999 Dramatist, Author, Screenwriter, Speech writer, Lyricist,

Lord Richard Holme of Cheltenham; came to the SDP via the Liberal party of which he was president in the year it was launched. After Oxford and Harvard, he became active in the Liberal party and stood for them unsuccessfully on several occasions. A director of RTZ-CRA, which now helps fund the Successor Generation project, Holme is a central figure in “centre” politics. He has directed the Campaign for Electoral Reform; chaired the Constitutional Reform Centre; remains a director of Political Quarterly, as well as vice-chairman of the Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government and, in addition, chairs Threadneedle Publishing, a major publisher of political reference works. He has been chairman of Brassey’s, the defence publishers once owned by Robert Maxwell with a US subsidiary chaired by the late Senator John Tower, (President George Bush’s unsuccessful nomination for Defence Secretary). He took over the chairmanship of the consultancy firm Prima Europe from Dick Taverne, the former Labour MP turned Social Democrat. Until his election as policy adviser to the Blair government, Holme acted as treasurer of the Green Alliance for 11 years.

Frederick Kempe; Wall Street Journal

Lord David Lipsey; author, economist, political editor and Labour peer. Started working life as a researcher with the G.M.W.U. After Oxford got to know and admire Anthony Crosland, the Gaitskellite MP, author of The Future of Socialism and one-time consultant to the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. Crosland became Lipsey’s mentor, hiring him as adviser at the Department for Environment and then at the Foreign Office. After Crosland’s death in 1977, Lipsey moved to the office of Prime Minister James Callaghan. With the defeat of Labour in 1979 Lipsey switched to journalism, first at New Society and then the Sunday Times before returning as editor of New Society in 1986. At the time he was helping to launch the BAP he was also involved in setting up the Sunday Correspondent, the short-lived and largely US-funded weekly. When it folded in 1990 he became associate editor of Murdoch’s Times, quitting that for the Economist in 1992 and becoming its political editor two years later. Along the way he has been chairman of the Fabian Society, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and a non-executive director of the Personal Investment Authority.

Roger Liddle; Employed by consultancy firm Prima Europe. Former SDP candidate. Jointly authored “The Blair Revolution” with Peter Mandelson.

John Lloyd; Of the electricians union, the EEPTU, as it was once called. Attended the 1987 BAP conference. (Lloyd’s successive bosses at the union, Frank Chapple and Eric Hammond, are/were long-standing anti-Communist, pro-NATO figures in the trade union movement. Both were active in the US-funded Labour Committee for Transatlantic Understanding.

Edie Lush; 2005 Chairman. Journalist & Communications Coach, London

Michael Maclay; An interesting figure in the BAP network. A career Foreign Office official, he left the diplomatic service for a media career, first at LWT and then, with David Lipsey, as a founding figure of the Sunday Correspondent. After that paper’s collapse he was rapidly recruited to Robert Maxwell’s new newspaper venture, The European. His latest appointment has taken him out of journalism and back into diplomacy as special adviser to the European Union’s High Representative in the former Yugoslavia, the Swedish Conservative, Carl Bildt.

Calum McDonald; University of California-educated Labour MP for the Western Isles, is a stalwart opponent of unilateralism

Peter Mandelson; Director of Campaigns and Communications. EU trade commissioner. Attended 1988 gathering of the BAP in St Louis. The theme for discussion was, “Present Alliance, Future Challenges”, which was very relevant to a world in which the Cold War was moving into a new phase with the crumbling of the former Soviet empire. Kurt Campbell, a Harvard academic who had lectured on Soviet studies in what was then apartheid South Africa, led the first session on “New Empires for Old”. In the subsequent discussion – led, according to the conference report by British participants.





Steve Mannix; 2004 Treasurer. Freelance Consultant, London.

Lucy P. Marcus; CEO, Non-Exec Board Director, Prof IE Biz School, Project Syndicate & BBC columnist, host Reuters Lucy is the founder and CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting, Ltd, which works with venture capital and private equity funds, institutions and corporations to build strong funding businesses. She is also Professor of Leadership and Governance at IE Business School focusing on corporate governance, ethics and leadership. Lucy writes opinion columns for Project Syndicate and the BBC and hosts a tv show, Reuters “In the Boardroom with Lucy Marcus”, on the intersection of boards and leadership. non-executive director, board treasurer and fellow of the British-American Project. She served on the board of the Wellesley College Business Leadership Council, chaired The Global Task Force on Building Women Leaders, and founded High Tech Women.

Ed Miliband; Leader of the Opposition.

Jason Mitchell; 2012. Co-Manager, GLG Global Equities Fund, London

Charles Moore; former editor of the Spectator then the Daily Telegraph

Mo Mowlam; Former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary (deceased). Attended Durham University then studied and taught in American universities for most of the Seventies. After winning Redcar in 1987 she followed Chris Smith as secretary of the Tribune group at the time it was becoming less the voice of the radical Left in the parliamentary party and more of a support group for Neil Kinnock in his “modernising” moves, particularly on defence. She attended the 1988 gathering of the BAP in St Louis.




Geoff Mulgan; former head of Downing Street’s policy and strategy unit.

Rabbi Julia Neuburger; Member of the government-backed multilateralist Council for Arms Control in the early Eighties. Prominent member of the SDP national committee.

James Naughtie; Broadcast journalist and author. Naughtie’s postgraduate studies were in New York at Syracuse. In 1981 he was awarded the Laurence M Stern Fellowship to spend a summer working on the Washington Post. A review of his radio documentary output makes it clear that transatlantic relations are a key field of interest.

Richard Norman; 2012. Head of Strategy for Defence Information Business, BAE Systems, Lancaster

Sir Michael Palliser; One of the original BAP members. Former head of the Foreign Office. Special adviser to Margaret Thatcher during the Falklands War.

Jeremy Paxman; Broadcast journalist and author. The former,”Newsnight” interviewer was a BAP participant in 1990.

Rowan Pelling; 2004. Writer, Journalist and Presenter.

Trevor Phillips; Ex-National Union of Students president. Employed first with LWT then the BBC and Pepper Productions, a joint UK/USA/South Africa production company. Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Nicola Pitts; 2013 Head of Process, National Grid, London

Jonathan Powell; Tony Blair’s chief of staff. The career diplomat who gave up his posting at the Washington embassy to work for Tony Blair in opposition then in government, as chief of staff. Powell is the youngest of the Powell brothers, of whom Charles, the eldest, was Thatcher’s foreign policy specialist and the middle one, Chris, Advertising Adviser to the Labour party. Jonathan Powell was the smiling presence at the Successor Generation’s 10th anniversary get-together at Windsor in 1995.

Gideon Rachman; The Spectator Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist.

Hugh Raven; Sunday Telegraph.




Barry Reamsbottom; Former editor of the Civil Service union paper Red Tape. Since 1992 he has been General Secretary of the Civil and Public Servants’ Association – the other end of the public service spectrum represented until last year by Baroness Symons at the FDA.

Laura-Jane Rich; 2013. Presenter, Programme-Maker & Professional Composer, London

Lord George Robertson; Former Nato secretary-general. Former secretary of the right-wing Labour Manifesto group, member of the British Atlantic Committee. Member of the Council of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) from 1984 to 1991. Long term member of the steering committee of the annual Konigswinter conference. A Governer of the Ditchley Foundation since 1989. Vice-chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy from 1992 to 1994.

Aaron Ross; 2011. Founder, Ruffl, London

David Ruebain; Chief Executive of Equality Challenge Unit; solicitor; former director of legal policy at Equality and Human Rights Commission; widely published on education, disability and equality law; member of editorial board of Disability and Society; fellow of the British-American Project; founding member of The Times newspaper law panel





Jill Rutter; Private secretary to John Major. Attended 1988 gathering in St Louis, during her Harkness Fellowship studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Took up the role of Treasury Publicity Chief to Gordon Brown.

Baroness Scotland; Home Office minister. Attorney general for England Wales & Northern Ireland. It is considered preferable to exclude Attorneys General from cabinet meetings so as to draw a distinct line between them and the political decisions on which they are giving legal advice. As a government minister, the Attorney General is directly answerable to Parliament
Scotland’s husband, Richard Mawhinney, (the brother of former Tory chairman Brian) is a barrister specialising in personal injury at London’s Outer Temple Chambers. She returned to the Bar in 2011 after stepping down as Attorney General. She practises at 4 Paper Buildings and last year was made Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to South Africa.

Maggie Semple; 1992. Responsible for creating the great cultural monument, the Greenwich Dome. Boasting of her achievement she said, it’s ‘high enough to contain the Statue of Liberty… if inverted under Niagara Falls it would take 10 minutes to fill with water’ – before unveiling the main attraction. ‘A highlight of the Dome will be the McDonald’s Our Town Story where for 210 days, people will perform and exhibit their town’s past, present and future. An earlier post revealed the true cost of the shambolic project mis-managed by John Prescott.

James Sherr; A New Yorker based in Britain who has worked for Group Captain Bolton’s RUSI and the Heritage-funded Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, the latter, a fierce opponent of the Labour party and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the Eighties.

Sue Slipman; former Communist president of the National Union of Students. Founder member of the SDP.

Michael Smeeth; Conference Co-Chair. Director, Healthcare Infrastructure, GE Global Operations, London






Lord Chris Smith; former Labour culture secretary. MM for Islington South. Between his first degree at Cambridge and his doctorate there gained a Kennedy scholarship which took him to Harvard for a year. A few years in local government earned him the chance of a seat and shortly after being elected became, first, secretary and then chairman of the Tribune group of Labour MPs. attended first BAP gathering in 1986 in Philadelphia.

Steve Smith; University of East Anglia. Lectures on strategic issues.

Colonel Bob Stewart; former commander of British forces in Bosnia. Attended 1988 BAP gathering in St Louis with Peter Mandleson and Mo Moulam. Widely known through television for his presence in Bosnia. Less well known, is that Stewart was a key figure on NATO’s military committee and between 1994 and 1995 was chief of policy at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers, Europe. Since resigning from the Army in 1996 Stewart has been hired by the international public affairs consultants, Hill and Knowlton.

Lord Dennis Stevenson; A key figure in the BAP network and in the 2008 banking collapse. Chairman of Pearson, the media conglomerate, appointed Rona Fairhead to her first senior position at Pearson Publishing.

Baroness Elizabeth Symons; Attended the 1990 BAP conference. The BAP’s 1996 newsletter welcomed her elevation to the Lords and Foreign Office minister, as follows: “Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, aka Liz Symons, has tendered her resignation as general secretary of the Top Civil Servants Union (FDA) following the announcement of her life peerage in August. She will continue there until the end of 1996. After that she can be reached at House of Lords, London SW1A 1AA. Congratulations from all of us. Symons came to trade unionism by a somewhat unusual route, being an official of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation while her father, Ernest Vize Symons, was on the Board of Inland Revenue’s director general. Her partner is Phil Bassett, Labour editor of the Times.





Matthew Taylor; Head of Downing Street.

Raj Thamotheram; Founded Saferworld, a defence and foreign affairs think-tank opposed to unilateralism.

Colonel Tom Thomas; is a NATO adviser with expertise in counter-insurgency.

Gregory Treverton; Princeton and Harvard has worked closely with the Council for Foreign Relations, the US sister organisation to Britain’s Chatham House.

Adair Turner; head of pensions commission and ex head of CBI

Martin Vander Weyer; 1994 UK Advisory Board member and former UK Executive Chair. Business editor and columnist for The Spectator magazine. Regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph. Author and playwright.

Pieter Vlieland; Original BAP founder. Sunday Telegraph journalist. Involved. together with his wife (below) in organising Königswinter. They also ran a business called Specialist Conferences.

Maxine Vlieland; Original BAP founder. General secretary of the Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government and organiser of the British side of the Königswinter conferences.




Colin Walters; Head of the Police Division at the Home Office attended 1988 BAP gathering in St Louis.

David Willetts; Attended the 1988 Gathering of BAP in St Louis. Entered Parliament in 1992 as MP for Havant. quickly established himself in Parliament, becoming a Whip, a Cabinet Office Minister, and then Paymaster General in his first term . During this period Willetts gained “Two Brains” as a nickname. Forced to resign from his post by the Standards and Privileges Committee over an investigation into Neil Hamilton in 1996, when it found that he had “dissembled” in his evidence to the Committee over whether pressure was put onto an earlier investigation into Hamilton. On return to government of the Tory Party he was appointed, Minister of State for Universities and Science. A post he held until the July 2014 cabinet reshuffle. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) representing the constituency of Havant in Hampshire.

Alan Lee Williams; Labour party national youth officer under Hugh Gaitskell’s leadership before becoming an MP. He was parliamentary private secretary when Roy Mason was Defence Secretary and he followed when Mason became Northern Ireland Secretary. Defence was a driving interest of Williams, chairing the Parliamentary Labour Party’s Defence Committee and, after losing his Hornchurch seat in 1979, chairing Peace Through NATO. In addition to work for the European Movement – he was treasurer from 1972 to 1979 – he has strong US links. He is currently director of the Atlantic Council. He became one of David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission members in 1976 and has chaired the European working group of the right-wing Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington since 1987. In 1981, Williams was one of the founding members of the SDP Alliance. Was director-general, of the English-Speaking Union, and one of the first members of the UK Advisory Board.

Lucy Winskell; heavily involved in the British American Project (BAP), a networking organisation which aims to enrich the relationship between the two countries and to which she is deeply committed. She is currently UK chairman of BAP. A licensing and gaming specialist at Sintons Solicitors in Newcastle, Winskell also works as a consultant with the College of Law in addition to serving on the boards of organisations as diverse as the Arts Council North-East and the Darlington Building Society. She is also a governor at her old school in Gosforth

Benjamin Zephaniah; poet and activist.




Credits to the original writers. September 2014:

Care and support services are means-tested and services are not free to everyone – The Care Cap Calculator Will Identify Your Payments from 2016

Care Cap Calculator

How Will Changes to Legislation Affect State Support in England For Care Funding From April 2016?

Care and support services are means-tested and services are not free to everyone. The Government has announced plans for 2016 to put a limit on how much people might pay.

This calculator has been designed to help people’s understanding of how the £72,000 care cap will affect them financially from April 2016. The ‘Dilnot’ care cap model is still in development and the Department of Health will be making further announcements between now and its implementation, clarifying how the cap will work. This calculator should be used for illustrative purposes only, for residential and nursing care.





Pro Labour Bias – Who Us?

A well respected and truly impartial journalist was asked if the perception that BBC Scotland was anti-SNP was, in his view, justified. “Put it this way,” he said “It probably comes more naturally to them to attack the nationalists than to attack the union.”

But how is this the case? A wee bit of history. From 1946 to 1991 media affairs in Scotland were subject to the moderating influence of the, BBC Scotland Controller who effectively reported to the, “Broadcasting Council for Scotland”, on which many distinguished Scot’s served over the years.

That was abandoned and control of BBC output in Scotland was transferred to the Board of Governors of the corporation in England then onto the BBC trust Chairman, in London.






So what’s the problem?

The way in which BBC Scotland is run, the quality of care it shows for the many good people who work for it, the standard of what it does, the public service in Scotland ethos it supposedly represents are some of the more important questions facing the Scottish nation.

But it is doubtful they can be successfully addressed within the control systems that prevail at the present time.

The BBC fails Scotland when it is needed most.

The two main blockages are in the minds of those who retain control of the state media output:

The BBC,  is part of the glue that holds together the very idea of Britain.

Take it away and the whole package starts to fall apart and we are left to wonder at the fragility of the paste.

The BBC is how we talk to each other, where we go in the morning.

We need to trust it and to feel a personal investment in it.

Otherwise it’s lost – and part of us with it.





Is the alleged bias in BBC Scotland endemic or confined to a few employees?

The huge number of unresolved complaints and public demonstrations all voicing concern and anger about a blatant lack of impartiality by the news reporting/discussion teams in the course of the recent independence referendum and since  gives support to the public perception that there is an on-going agenda within BBC Scotland ensuring support to Labour Party ideals, to the exclusion of other political parties in Scotland.

Yes” campaigners  “anti-bias” march on the BBC Headquarters in Glasgow.

The organisation also needs to be formally separated from London so that it can be truly independent.

The over arching Scottish body, including members of the public, should be reinstated.

A Labour Party pedigree is a predominant requirement within the BBC Scotland senior management team and a number of line managers and reporters, are in place appointed through nepotism.

This needs to eradicated so that the BBC is enabled to fulfil it’s remit, to be impartial and accountable to the Scottish public.

The current “modus-operanti” cannot be allowed to remain in place and there should be a cull of management and media correspondents that have abandoned the Journalist’s Code in favour of their politically minded colleagues.


John Boothmanp00sk29l

John Boothman & Derek Bateman



Nepotism/Cronyism & Protection of The labour party

John Boothman head of BBC Scotland News and Current Affairs, (formerly Editor of Elections and Political Output).

In 1979 he was the Chairperson of Strathclyde University Labour Club, Chairperson Scottish Organisation of Labour Students in 1980 and Chairperson of the National (UK) Organisation of Labour Students 1981.

According to former BBC broadcaster Derek Bateman,  Boothman questioned the political output of radio broadcasts after receiving complaints from Paul Sinclair.

Sinclair, (SPAD to Johann Lamont) is said to enjoy a special relationship and regular contact with Boothman through both men’s links with the Labour party.

Writing on his blog, Mr Bateman claimed that Boothman was “famous for his unrivalled network of contacts in the Labour movement.” adding that, “…Sinclair had a name for trying to interfere in BBC news decisions to influence output.”

Such attempts at interference were, according to Mr Bateman, something all parties tried to do

However, according to the former BBC presenter, Sinclair and Boothman developed an unhealthy relationship with the Labour advisor calling the shots.

He added: “But what I didn’t like about Sinclair – Boothman was the informal and insidious way it developed, so instead of old pals, it became almost one of master and servant.

“Sinclair seemed to assume the right to call the BBC head of news to account.

It was going on right up to the final weeks before my departure.”

Mr Bateman also claimed that Boothman had, on more than one occasion, questioned him about the political content of his radio programme after receiving complaints from Sinclair.


susan deacon324367-former-scottish-labour-spin-doctor-paul-sinclair

Susan Deacon & Paul Sinclair (labour Press Officer)




John Boothman is married to Susan Deacon: Former Chairman of Scottish Labour Students.

She served on the Scottish Labour Party’s, National Executive. MSP and Labour government minister.

Recently put her parliamentary career on hold to raise her family.






John Boothman, Margaret Curran and Johann Lamont as students were actively involved in Labour Party politics at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.

Curran is a Labour Party Executive member and MP.

At university she was, Secretary of Glasgow University Labour Club, Secretary of the Scottish Organisation of Labour Students, Chair of that organisation, and Vice-Chair of the Labour Club(the biggest of its kind in the UK) at the time.

Lamont is an MSP and former leader of the Labour Party in Scotland.

At university she was an active member Glasgow University Labour Club.



Sarah Boyack (labour MSP)



Sarah Boyack; Labour Party List MSP. Attended Glasgow University.

Active in politics as a student, (taken under her wing and promoted by Margaret Curran).

Chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students in 1985-86


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Catrina Renton & Susan Deacon



Catriona Renton: Reporter for the BBC Politics Show and BBC Presenter.

Renton is a former Glasgow Labour Councillor, who represented Kelvindale before losing her seat to the LibDems in 2003.

She was “Glasgow’s Youth Tsar” she is a product of Balliol College, Oxford who went on to represent Labour in both the 2003 Holyrood elections and the 2004 European elections.

She was apparently recruited by BBC Scotland’s parliamentary unit in 2006, where John Boothman, husband of Labour MSP and ex-Health Minister Susan Deacon, was a senior producer.

Her personal Facebook has listed the following as friends: Jackie Baille Labour MSP, Yousuf Hamid Labour Activist, Tom Harris Labour MP, Mike Dailly Labour Activist, David Martin Labour MEP, Frank McAvetty Labour MSP, John Robertson Labour MP John Park Labour MSP, Steven Purcell Labour Glasgow Leader, Dave Watson Vice-chair of the Scottish Labour Party.

At the centre of a bias storm after an item broadcast on Sunday 18 October 2009 she attributed views to senior SNP MSP Alex Neil that he had not expressed.

When filming at the SNP conference in Inverness, Catriona Renton had claimed on BBC Scotland’s Politics Show that Alex Neil had confirmed the SNP’s desire to see David Cameron become the Prime Minister at the next general election.

The recorded interview with Mr Neil that followed Ms Renton’s claim contained no such confirmation.

The BBC were forced to issue a personal apology to Alex Neil.





Tom Connor; BBC Head of Online News and Sport.

Long term friend and colleague of John Boothman, Department Head.

Responsible for ensuring the continuation of censorship and blockage of comments to BBC Scotland political blogs.

No adding comment or disputing views with the likes of Brian Taylor or Douglas Fraser accounts any-more.. Yet England, Wales and Northern Ireland blogs all allow comments.

Tom, together with his boss John Boothman was censured a number of years ago for offering Media training to Labour candidates!


John Boothman

John Boothman



John Boothman, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, is being shifted with immediate effect to join the team overseeing the BBC’s preparations for charter renewal next year, staff were told on Tuesday by the controller of BBC Scotland, Ken McQuarrie.

It was revealed that Boothman had lost a grievance complaint against him taken out by Zoe MacDonald, a BBC camerawoman and daughter of the late nationalist politician Margo MacDonald, after she recorded him being abusive about her and her mother in February.

An internal staff survey had meanwhile confirmed there was widespread unhappiness in BBC Scotland’s newsroom about management decision-making, while a health and safety survey commissioned by the National Union of Journalists found very high levels of stress in the department.

The BBC survey showed that only 19% of news and current affairs staff believed bullying complaints against their managers would have a “positive outcome”, only 20% felt bullying would be fairly dealt with and only 16% had confidence in Boothman’s decision-making.

In a letter emailed to BBC Scotland staff, MacQuarrie said: “We are now entering the most important period of work ahead of the forthcoming charter review discussions as we shape our plans for the future of BBC Scotland.

“I am writing to let you know that John Boothman, head of news and current affairs, will be joining the team working on Scotland’s proposals for charter review.

Working [for] Bruce Malcolm, he will play a key role focussing on service development for Scotland including our news offer for audiences for the new charter period.

“Pete MacRae will take on the role of head of news and current affairs on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is made.”

Boothman had had a private discussion about Zoe MacDonald and other BBC staff with a personnel executive, who has since left the BBC, in a broadcasting gallery at its Edinburgh studios without realising the microphones were live.

MacDonald was eating lunch in the next gallery, and overheard their conversation, recording it on her mobile phone.

Backed by colleagues and her stepfather, the former Scottish National party MP Jim Sillars, she made a formal complaint against Boothman.

The complaints were raised earlier this month with Tony Hall, the BBC’s director general, during a meeting with unions, where Hall requested a written summary of the grievances circulating within BBC Scotland.

Paul Holleran, the national organiser for the NUJ in Scotland, said there would be “palpable relief” in the newsrooms after the announcement and said the union believed that industrial relations at BBC Scotland could be “turned around very quickly” after Boothman’s transfer.

“The NUJ welcomes the transfer of John Boothman out of his current role, he has overseen a period of damage to the health and morale of many of our members which we believe has affected the quality of news delivery during his tenure,” Holleran said.

“We have seen industrial action including strikes and work to rules; stress levels have gone through the roof as highlighted in union and BBC surveys and mainly because of his management style there has been a complete breakdown in industrial relations at times.”

Boothman offered MacDonald a “fulsome” apology last week, more than a month after he lost the grievance hearing, after the NUJ and broadcast union Bectu told management of growing discontent amongst BBC Scotland journalists and camera crews.

The crisis culminated on Friday in a tense meeting between the NUJ and BBC management, where the NUJ warned that unless Boothman was moved, the union would ballot BBC Scotland journalists on taking industrial action.

They were surprised that MacQuarrie, who oversaw the BBC’s investigation earlier this year into bullying allegations against Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, had not acted earlier.

Staff sources say there had been a series of conflicts and grievances involving Boothman and journalists.

Senior staff at BBC Scotland feared the controversy has potentially significant political implications for the corporation after it came under intense criticism last year from nationalists for alleged bias against Scottish Independence.

Regarded by some colleagues as a gifted political journalist and news editor, Boothman is also married to a former Scottish Labour MSP and minister, Susan Deacon, fuelling nationalist claims of bias by the BBC.



Fiona Ross



Fiona Ross: Freelance broadcaster, (Produces television and radio documentaries for the BBC and commercial channels).

Ross is the daughter of former Scottish Labour party leader William Ross.

She has particular knowledge of political and public sector organisations, and trains CEOs , Chair people , and senior management at Britain ‘s most successful companies.

During her distinguished broadcasting career Fiona has won many awards and has been involved in the reporting of crises and disasters such as the Lockerbie air crash of 1988, the collapse of BCCI in the early 90′s, and the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

While Political Correspondent at Scottish Television Fiona interviewed every leading UK political figure and Prime Minister including Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair.

Fiona now works as a freelance broadcaster, making television and radio documentaries for the BBC and commercial channels.

She presents TV and radio programmes and also works as a media skills trainer and consultant to political and business clients in the UK and the Middle East.

















Sir Jeremy Heywood – Politics, Scandals, Cuts, Destruction and Chaos – Yet He Seems to Thrive On It

December 23 2013: Politics, scandal, cuts, destruction and chaos. Would anyone working in the public sector actually recommend it anymore?

At the very top is, Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary. Will he be prepared to rap ministers’ knuckles or demand David Cameron corral special advisers when they use the machinery of state for party advantage?

Political pundits say the general election of 2015 will be dirty, putting permanent secretaries on their mettle. But the fact that since 2010 none of them have sought a, “direction” from ministers – an explicit order from a minister to pursue action about which they have financial or administrative doubts – suggests they might not erect much of a barrier against politicisation. Civil servants face trial by ordeal – keeping public business (and ministers) honest as politicking hots up, as grave doubts grow about Whitehall’s capacity and ethos. NHS managers will struggle to survive amid resource crisis and the chaos created by healthcare “reforms”. In town and county halls, despair may overcome executives contemplating impossible financial arithmetic while dealing with the latest example of government’s simultaneous bid to control and blame them.

Coalition government has proved a dark hour for council executives and their troubles will deepen. There is no sign of relenting in the pursuit by government of their pay and pensions. Their national organisations, Solace and the Local Government Association, are silent, pale shadows. Bright spots include imaginative rethinking of conurbation governance as councils in Manchester, Merseyside and London come together in new combinations and some shire districts rationalise services.

The professional bodies representing clinicians specialising in emergency medicine say hospitals can neither recruit nor retain staff to work in A&E. In the new year, the Trust Development Authority (the body supposed to help NHS trusts make the leap into foundation status) will report that attracting both managers and board members is increasingly difficult.

If all that paints a gloomy picture of 2014, don’t forget it is meant to be that way. Oliver Letwin, chief policy strategist for the government, embraces, “creative destruction”. Francis Maude says the Tories are deliberately demolishing the state. Justice secretary Chris Grayling and other ministers are powering ahead with the replacement of public by private provision. The calamity that is the NHS was willed by the authors of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

Which is not to say that a change of government at Westminster in 2015 would suddenly see dawn’s rosy fingers caressing public service management. The safest prediction for next year (and possibly several years after) is that things are going to get worse before they have any prospect of getting better.

June 6 2014: Labour makes official complaint over use of Conservative slogan in Queen’s Speech

I am writing to express concerns that taxpayers’ money is being routinely used to promote the Conservative Party’s messages. It is, of course, the role of the Civil Service to communicate official government information to the public. However, it is vital that this work is clearly confined to non-party political activity. It would be completely inappropriate for the work of the Civil Service to be manipulated to support party political messaging. The Civil Service Code itself states that civil servants must not, “use official resources for party political purposes”. I believe there are serious questions to be asked as to whether the Code is currently being upheld. I therefore ask that you investigate urgently whether official government resources are being used to promote Conservative Party communications. In particular, I hope you will be able to answer the following questions:

Do you consider the slogan ‘long-term economic plan’ or ‘long-term plan’ to be government brands? If so, do you think it is appropriate for it to be used in the Conservative Party’s political and campaign communications materials?

What measures have been taken to ensure that none of the £290 million earmarked for external communications this year will be used to promote a political party’s message?

What processes have you put in place to ensure that public resources are used only for impartial and official government business?

What processes have you put in place to ensure the Conservative Party will not seek to use official government messaging for party political ends?

What communication has been had with the Conservative Party to ensure that this is the case?

In considering these questions, I would draw your attention to the fact that in 2009 the then Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude wrote to the then Cabinet Secretary seeking assurances that the work of civil servants was not being used inappropriately. He argued that “addressing this issue is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the work of the civil service”. This statement is as true now as it was then. It is essential that the public has clarity and confidence over the proper use of public funds and impartiality of the civil service and as such I look forward to your response. In light of the obvious public interest in this matter I am releasing a copy of this letter to the media. Michael Dugher MP, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office.

July 7 2014: Treasury has not signed off on Duncan Smith’s universal credit

The Treasury is keeping a very close eye on the universal credit development, the responsibility of work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, after it was criticised by the National Audit Office for its “weak management, ineffective control and poor governance”.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, said the Treasury and the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority, “played a very, very clear role in bringing it to the attention” of Duncan Smith that the project was, “way off track” at the start of last year. However, he said it was a good example where the most senior people in Whitehall had, “intervened very strongly” to help sort it out. Heywood also admitted that Duncan Smith’s department had mishandled Atos contracts, which has been responsible for delays in the implementation of a new personal independence payment to the disabled. He said there was an issue about whether the department responsible was, “sufficiently alive to the emerging picture”. “That comes down, in my view, to; first of all, was there, before the thing became a project to start with, before it became announced as a priority of the government, was there a sufficiently hard-headed assessment done at the gateway stage? Secondly, there is the perennial problem of whether we had adequate timely real-time information as to what was going on,” he added.

Universal credit has the support of all the major parties but Labour has pledged to, “pause” and conduct a three-month review if it wins the general election. Chris Bryant, shadow minister for welfare reform, said it was, “more evidence of the chaos surrounding universal credit”. “It raises worrying questions about George Osborne’s refusal to endorse his government’s flagship welfare reform scheme,” he said. ‘It’s time for David Cameron to call in the National Audit Office as a matter of urgency to get to the bottom of the true extent of the chaos surrounding universal credit.” A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman insisted there was no contradiction between McVey’s claims and the admission from Kerslake. “Universal credit is on track to roll out safely and securely against the plan set out last year.

July 31 2014: The hunt for a new BBC Trust boss has become a mess

Two more leading candidates have pulled out of the race to become the new head of the BBC Trust amid accusations that the process has descended into a “mess”. Sir Howard Stringer, the former Sony chief executive, and Michael Portillo, the former Conservative defence secretary, were both approached about the role but decided not to apply. A total of nine candidates have now pulled out including Lord Coe, the Olympics chief who had been the Prime Minister’s preferred choice, Dame Marjorie Scardino, the former chief executive of Pearson, and Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of the Arts Council. Despite the setbacks Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, will begin interviewing the remaining shortlisted candidates today. Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, believes that the shortlist remains “strong”. However Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC, said that the job is “unattractive” because the trust is likely to be abolished under the royal charter review in 2016.

June 25 2014: David Cameron’s judgment in the dock after phone-hacking case – Labour claims he ignored warnings – Why was he not vetted

Miliband also raised again the issue of why Coulson was not given the highest security clearance – something that would have required him to be deep vetted, including a months long investigation into his private life. Cameron insisted that the initial decision not to seek the highest-level clearance for Coulson – in contrast to the six previous press secretaries – was made by the then Downing Street permanent secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood. It has been previously reported that Sir Jeremy made the decision on the basis of cost saving, but Labour is to ask the commissioner for public appointments, Sir David Normington, to look into the procedure.

June 9 2014: David Cameron no longer scares his ministers

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, is damaged by an unspoken element in the public feud between Home Secretary Theresa May and Education Secretary Michael Gove. It is that his ministers do not fear him. Cameron’s continuing, baffling reliance on fingers-in-every-pie Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, is in evidence yet again. Heywood was asked by the PM to conduct a ‘review’ of the May-Gove spat — over whose department was to blame for Islamic extremism in schools. Afterwards, Heywood told Cameron he must take firm action against Gove and Ms Cunningham. This turns out to be Gove having to say sorry and Ms Cunningham getting the sack. Neither Gove nor Mrs May can be sacked. That would imperil Cameron’s own position. But the unfortunate Ms Cunningham is deemed dispensable.

Gove started the row by criticising Mrs May and counter-terrorism boss Charles Farr in remarks he made in private over lunch to cronies at The Times. Ms Cunningham, who is romantically involved with Farr and an often aggressive supporter of Mrs May, made public a private letter the Home Secretary wrote to Gove accusing him of failing to act on concerns about Islamic activity in schools. Leaking private communications between ministers is deemed to be very bad form. But why do ministers write complaining letters to each other if the intention is to keep their contents secret? They do so in order to put on record their grievances. So, if disagreements boil over — and there’s an inquiry into the matter — they can produce their letters as evidence. Ms Cunningham acted prematurely, that is all.

March 5 2014: Patrick Rock arrest: Sir Jeremy Heywood’s reply to Labour letter

I will try to respond to your specific questions but, as you recognise, in doing so my overriding concern must be to avoid doing anything to prejudice or undermine an on-going police investigation. Downing Street became aware of a potential offence relating to child abuse imagery on the evening of 12 February. I was immediately informed of the allegation and the Prime Minister was also briefed. Officials then contacted the NCA to seek advice on how to report suspected criminality. Our subsequent actions were driven by the overriding importance of not jeopardising either their investigation or the possibility of a prosecution.

Patrick Rock resigned on the evening of 12 February. His resignation was not made public as we judged it was inappropriate to make an announcement while the NCA investigations were continuing. A few hours later he was arrested. We also arranged for officers to come into Number 10 to have access to all IT systems and offices they considered relevant. There has been no contact from officials with Mr Rock since his arrest. Mr Rock was cleared to the standard SC level which was appropriate for the classification of material to which he needed to have access.

You ask a number of questions about a separate sexual harassment allegation. Let me start by saying that we regard our duty of confidentiality to staff who make complaints as extremely important. Confidentiality is essential if we are to ensure that people feel able to raise issues freely, and without fear of subsequently being identified. I am therefore not in a position to provide any information that might breach our duty of confidence or allow an individual to be identified.

On the specific questions you raise in relation to what you describe as “an allegation of sexual harassment”, again let me make clear that as you would expect we take any issue raised by staff about behaviour very seriously indeed. The complaint was acted upon immediately at a senior level and in accordance with Cabinet Office HR policy. The issue was resolved with the consent of, and in consultation with, the individual who raised the complaint. Both civil service and special adviser line managers were involved. I was briefed on the case and concluded that the matter had been dealt with appropriately. The Prime Minister was also made aware. You imply that the member of staff who raised the complaint was moved to another Government department against their wishes. This is completely untrue – no member of staff was moved as a result of the case. I am not aware of any other complaint about Patrick Rock’s behaviour while he was working at No 10

Sir Jeremy Heywood – New Civil Service Chief Executive Appointed – Track Record? Failure.

August 21 2014: New Civil Service CEO should report to PM, says think-tank founder

The new chief executive of the civil service will only have “sufficient authority” if he/she reports directly to the prime minister, rather than Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood,  John Healey, co-founder of new think-tank GovernUp, has said. November is the earmarked start date for the new CEO whose line manager will be Heywood, according to the job spec produced by the  cabinet Office last month. But, speaking in a joint CSW interview with think-tank co-founder CSW Nick Herbert MP , Healey MP said that, “unless they are in a position with sufficient authority”, the new person will struggle to exert enough influence in Whitehall. Asked what he means by “sufficient authority”, Healey said: “For me, it means reporting directly to the prime minister. It doesn’t mean reporting to some other civil servant.”

Healey said that he was, “sceptical” about whether creating a, “freshly designated post will make a sufficient difference”, adding that it will be hard to find both, “the skills to know how you can make big organisations that are disparate in their functions and structure perform, report and deliver better.” Herbert, who co-founded GovernUp with Healey 18 months ago to produce a range of radical ideas to reform government, was more optimistic about the new role. He described the new person, who must, according to the job ad, “demonstrate that he or she has had a successful career in the private sector”, as “a huge opportunity to bring in someone with real commercial acumen which is what Whitehall needs.”

The Financial Times newspaper reported on Monday, 18 August, that Whitehall is struggling to recruit anyone for the new post, “with several business leaders having turned down approaches from head-hunters less than three weeks from the closing date for applications” – 5 September. The FT quoted a “person familiar with the [recruitment] process” who said that the government has “drawn up a ‘plan B’ to appoint John Manzoni, a former BP senior executive and now the head of the Major Projects Authority, if a suitable candidate does not come forward”. Candidates who have been approached are, the FT reported, concerned that, “you sign up now and then six months later get a Miliband government.”

October 27 2014: Controversial former BP executive appointed to the top of the Civil Service

A former BP executive criticized for his role in the Texas oil refinery explosion which killed 15 people in 2005 is to become the first chief executive of the Civil Service. The controversy at BP arose when Mr Manzoni was blamed by an internal report for failing to heed, “serious warning signals” prior to the Texas explosion. Mr Manzoni ran about half of BP’s global operations before moving on to Talisman Energy, a company heavily involved in fracking in the US, which was fined over dozens of health and safety violations.

John Manzoni will be responsible for making savings across Whitehall in areas such as IT, procurement and contracts. For the past six months, he has been overseeing the Government’s watchdog scrutinizing major projects such as HS2 and the nuclear programme. He is due to start his new role as civil service chief on 13 October, with a salary of £190,000 a year. He will report not only to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, but also to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude. Sir Jeremy admitted that the Civil Service still needed to be, “much better at doing commercial stuff”, such as contract management, which will be an early priority for the new chief executive.

Mr Manzoni’s role will be vital as the Civil Service attempts to find about £13 billion of extra cuts in the spending round after the general election. Mr Maude said he expected efficiency would have a “very big role” whoever was elected, and Mr Manzoni would be closely involved in delivering that. One of Mr Manzoni’s priorities will be to drive the expansion of the Government Digital Service that aims to transform the way in which people interact with government online. However, this has not been entirely smooth so far, with a website designed to allow people to renew their tax disk online crashing on its first day.

Yesterday’s announcement comes alongside a new progress report on Civil Service Reform. The report says that more people from outside the Civil Service will be brought in to fill skills gaps, with more training and support for existing civil servants. By April 2015, there will be a presumption that senior civil service appointments below permanent secretary level should be open to external candidates. Applicants for permanent secretary posts will be expected – and, after summer 2016, required – to have completed an appropriate business school leadership course, ensuring that leadership skills are prioritised.

Announcing the chief executive appointment, David Cameron said that Mr Manzoni’s private sector experience put him in the, “perfect position to accelerate the pace” of civil service reform. Sir Jeremy added: “We have all been impressed by John’s leadership of the Major Projects Authority.” Mr Manzoni was chosen after an external competition which some believed would result in a high-profile outsider being brought in to run the Civil Service. However, there was thought to be little interest in so called heavyweight business figures, and ministers decided to stick with someone who was a known quantity.