Hakluyt: The masters of the great game turn to business
Globalisation and cross-border mergers are increasing demand for Hakluyt’s brand of intelligence, Years after leaving MI6, Christopher James, is still involved in “the great game”, still savouring the whiff of romance and still at the centre of a global web.
Former spies are supposed to retire into oblivion, carrying their secret cargo of knowledge to the grave. Not him. The idea was to do for industry what we had done for the govemment,” he says. “In the services you get to understand a great deal about the people who make things work. I felt what we provided might have some commercial value. You could say it was intuition about the ending of the cold war.”
James, who served in the Special Air Service before MI6, founded Hakluyt & Company in April 1995 along with Christopher Wilkins, a former Welsh Guards officer and businessman.
Mike Reynolds, an ex-MI6 colleague, and Jeremy Connell, a former diplomat and business development manager for a law firm, became directors in 1995.
Michael Maclay, a former journalist, diplomat and special adviser to Douglas Hurd, former foreign secretary, and Carl Bildt, UN high representative in Bosnia, joined in 1997.
Wilkins retired in 1996.
So far Hakluyt has provided intelligence for 26 FTSE 100 companies and has a growing number of US and European clients.
Operating by word of mouth, the company sells information of a singular and sensitive kind. James describes what they produce as “the truth”. “The chairman of a company may be under immense pressure from senior managers to approve a contract, but a voice in the back of his head tells him something is not quite right. That is where we come in. We give focused, timely intelligence – we fill in the gaps.” Maclay adds: “We are there to answer specific questions – what the real agenda is, who is in whose pocket and what is the role of certain people.”
Maclay gives an example of an assignment. In 1997 a British company was tempted by a lucrative joint venture in the former Soviet Union when strategic mineral resources were privatised in an obscure republic. The slick Russian frontmen tumed out to be ex-KGB agents with direct links to an international drugs cartel laundering money in the Caribbean. The company was advised to pull out.
Raising a china teacup at Hakluyt’s West End offices, James, managing director, reflects: “It would not be Hakluyt if there was no whiff of romance about it.”
It might be thought that his former masters would have been uneasy about former staff going corporate. But Sir David Spedding, then head of MI6, wished him luck with his venture as he does with everyone who leaves the service, says James. “Once you’re in, you’re in. And once you’re out, you’re out. There are absolutely no ties.” He is sure MI6 is not interested in Hakluyt’s activities. “They have far more important things to worry about.”
Support has come from a roll-call of establishment grandees – a clue to the contacts Hakluyt can muster.
Former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind is supportive of the project; so too is Ian Lang, former secretary of state at the Department of Trade and Industry. Earl Jellicoe, president of the SAS Association provided early encouragement, as did the late Brigadier Sir Fitzroy Maclean, Winston Churchill’s personal envoy to Marshall Tito during the second world war. The current DTI “likes the idea”, according to James.
The Hakluyt Foundation
The company’s equivalent of a board, contains more eminent names:
Sir Peter Holmes, the foundation’s president and former chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Group.
Sir Brian Cubbon, former permanent under-secretary of state at the Home Office.
Sir Peter Cazalet, chairman of the company and the foundation, former deputy chairman of BP and member of the top salaries review board.
Sir William Purves, former chairman of HSBC.
Lord Inge, former chief of defence staff.
Lord Trotman, former chairman and chief executive of Ford and a director of the New York Stock Exchange.
Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill, widow of John Smith, the former Labour party leader who was himself was a Steering Committee Member of the Bilderberg Group.
Lord Renwick, chairman of Robert Fleming, the investment bank is a special adviser.
To cap all these connections, Hakluyt has formed a strategic agreement with Henry Kissinger. The former US secretary of state, guru of realpolitik, Nobel peace prizewinner and darling of the lecture circuit runs his own strategic consultancy, Kissinger Associates. Kissinger’s company facilitates top-level introductions for Hakluyt and both will refer clients and co-operate on individual projects. It is almost a privatised version of “the special relationship”.
“Kissinger is a statesman who has been at the very heart of American politics and I am extremely flattered,” says James. The Hakluyt Foundation has a vital role. It provides “reassurance we are not just a tearaway bunch of ex-govemment officials”. It ensures Hakluyt abides by a code of practice, which has an absolute ban on doing anything illegal, any dirty tricks. Asked if this might disappoint some clients James is firm: “We just don’t do it.” Nor does Hakluyt operate by tip-fees for information. Maclay adds: “We talk to the high-ups, not the hard-ups.”
Hakluyt, like the services, regards paid-for information as less reliable than information given freely. The company has over 100 “associates” on its books some based in London, others at stations worldwide, formed by personal contacts, whose judgement the directors trust absolutely. They might be investigative joumalists, diplomats’ wives, senior business people, former diplomats or consultants. They are “intuitive, determined, highly intelligent” and have intimate knowledge of the country in which they operate. Associates are free to tum down assignments and are expected to use their judgement about dangerous situations.
When Hakluyt receives an assignment, it calls up to five associates back to London to be briefed and then “deploys” them. The work essentially involves”talking to the right people. It’s all about people, following up contacts,”
says James. Each associate is given different questions and works independently. The associates might well come back with contradictory information. When this happens, the directors make a careful judgement of the material in London before submitting a final report. “We can’t just say: ‘On the one hand, and on the other’, we have to give answers,” says Maclay. The key, says James, is teamwork and the careful management of intemal and external networks.
Hakluyt pays “good professional rates” although some associates “prefer a case of claret”, according to James. The company will not disclose its rates for clients. Given the nature of the work, fees are “not insubstantial”, but vary widely: “Not as much as a top law firm,” says Maclay.
Much of Hakluyt’s work has been concentrated in the former Soviet Union and China, but the company has carried out jobs in 57 countries, including Indonesia, India, Latin America, Korea, the Middle East and, lately, in Europe.
Hakluyt concedes it is a product of the times. Globalisation and the rise in cross-border mergers have led to a growing demand for accurate and wellsourced information, says James. Privatisations worldwide and resulting
joint ventures form its core business. Organisations need “someone to refine a complicated world into answers,” says Maclay.
Hakluyt has been helped by the management trend of outsourcing: “In the old days, companies would have had someone who would know the situation in a particular market, but they have outsourced so many requirements.”
And the significance of the name?
In 1582 Richard Hakluyt argued for the colonisation of north America as a base for discovering the Orient. Centuries later it was said of him: “He is the silent man, seated in the dark corner, who is content to listen and remember”. Is Hakluyt attempting to recapture a fading imperial grandeur? “When we set up, it was to help British companies stay ahead of the competition,” says James. “We now have international clients, but there is still something in staying ahead of the game, of expansion in our message.” http://shellnews.net/PDFs/FTandTheScotsmanHakluytarticles.pdf
The 2014 Independence Referendum and Project Fear’s war against democracy in Scotland
The revelation that “Better Together” was financed by wealthy Tory Party supporters and commercial conmen is not surprising since dodgy financial funding is a well practiced trait of the Party.
But the active involvement of former MI6 agents and other characters with a background in ‘intelligence’ and ‘ex-military’ is of great concern to Scots since the threat to Scottish democracy in 2023 is as powerful as before with the introduction to Scotland of the shady “John Smith Foundation” fronted by former MI6 and Hakluyt official, Lady Smith.
The undernoted persons of interest provided funding to the “Better Together” campaign
Christopher Wilkins, ex MI6, donated £10,000.
The former Welsh Guards officer who read for the bar and attended the school of Military Intelligence became the founding chairman and architect of the intelligence-gathering organisation that he named “Hakluyt” which continues to flourish. Currently he is chairman of a renewable energy company and lives in London and the Scottish Borders. He was a member of the Scottish Economic Council for ten years.
Hakluyt, which continues to employ ex-spies, was later found to have infiltrated and spied on Greenpeace on behalf of Shell and BP. And, working for Hilary Clinton, it actively undermined Donald Trump’s campaign for the Presidency of the United States of America by providing false evidence in a report that he was working against the interests of his country with President Putin.
Sir Keith Craig, ex MI6, donated £10,000
The ‘army veteran’ is a managing director of Hakluyt.
Simon Crane, ex ?, donated £15,000.
He is the CEO of Edinburgh International (EI), a private military contractor (founded in Baghdad in 2003). It provides security staff and associated services to governments world wide. The industry is valued at over £100 million annually. The United States and Great Britain account for over 70% of the world’s market.
The organisations regional headquarters is located in the United Arab Emirates and is described as the “prime operational, administrative and financial centre for the group activities outside of the UK and USA.” Other offices are located in London and Guernsey (UK), Washington D.C. (US) Baghdad (Iraq), Kabul (Afghanistan), Khartoum (Sudan) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates) with “affiliate” offices in Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida in the US. It also has “representative” offices in the British Virgin Islands, Fiji, New York, Ankara (Turkey), Amman (Jordan), Perth (Australia) and Nepal. Company bought over by Blackrock!!