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Lockheed's Bosnian beano

Why did a leading arms firm foot the bill for seven MPs to go on a fact finding mission to the Balkans, asks SOLOMON HUGHES

ARMS FIRMS want to buy their way into political influence and the All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are one of the many channels they use.

APPGs are very lightly regulated informal groups of MPs that often rely on outside funding for organising trips and events. MPs on the Committee on Standards are investigating whether APPGs are really a channel for lobbying Parliament.

It’s not hard to find examples: according to the latest Register of MPs’ Interests, at the end of September Tory MPs Sarah Atherton, Bob Blackman, Flick Drummond, James Gray, Sheryll Murray, James Sunderland and Labour MP Sarah Champion had a three-day trip with the Armed Forces APPG “to meet current politicians from Bosnia and Herzegovina and to learn about the Bosnian War.”

This is a very serious issue — this 1990s war was the worst bloodshed in Europe for decades and there are currently big tensions around the deal that ended the fighting.

The whole trip, however, was partly paid for by arms firm Lockheed Martin. The firm that makes billions selling bombs, rockets and tanks paid just so they could get their PR people closer to MPs.

Contemplating a war courtesy of an arms firm sums up so much that is wrong with corporate lobbying of our Parliament.

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