Saturday, October 16

National security is threatened when politics is a slave to cash | Nick cohen


TThe sight of Winston Churchill’s grandson threatened with legal action for broadcasting warnings about an influential politician’s dealings with a hostile foreign power should stir national memory. Perhaps a tickle of alarm. A sentiment that the patriots should have a hearing, not that London lawyers shut them down and charge 500 pounds an hour to any passing member of the global super-rich.

Last week, the Financial times He said how former Conservative MPs Sir Nicholas Soames and Charlotte Leslie passed memos allegedly dealing with past dealings in Russia of a businessman and philanthropist named Mohamed Amersi to Ben Elliot, the Conservative party co-chair.

Amersi and his Russo-British partner, Nadezhda Rodicheva, have given the Conservatives more than £ 750,000 since 2017. In the leadership elections, Amersi found that he had backed all the horses by giving £ 10,000 each to Jeremy hunt, Michael gove, Boris johnson Y Rory stewart. Whoever won would be indebted to him, other than Stewart, that is, who returned the money, period.

Elliot read the memos. He wasn’t worried and accepted another 50 of Amersi’s greats. Amersi learned about the private memos. They tell me that Elliot didn’t pass them on to him; they came through a third party. He hired Mishcon de Reya and Carter-Ruck to threaten Soames and Leslie with defamation and data protection breach actions and says he has already spent close to £ 300,000 in legal fees.

Amersi seems to want to insert himself into one of the most sensitive areas of foreign policy by creating an alternative organization to Soames and Leslie’s Conservative Council of the Middle East. He is the sole named shareholder in a group called Conservative Friends of the Middle East and North Africa.

It is a matter of Public record that Amersi made part of his fortune by making deals in 2005 with a business empire that a Swiss court determined was controlled by an associate of Vladimir Putin. Amersi was charged in a separate 2006 lawsuit in the Southern District of New York with attempting to “extort” a $ 2 billion payment from a businessman on behalf of a Russian oligarch.

In 2002, an English high court judge described Amersi’s conduct as “regrettable” and his evidence as “unreliable”. Amersi told the FOOT that the judge behaved like a “farmer” who did not understand the sophisticated world of business. When I spoke to him, he claimed that the judge was biased. He added: “I believe in freedom of the press.” When asked why he was threatening Soames and Leslie, he said the courts should decide the truth of the matter. He added that he had made $ 7 million when he ended his deals with Russia in 2007 and the money had gone to an apartment in Dubai and not to the Conservative Party. As for the New York court case, he denied having been involved in extortion.

He seems determined to go to court and maybe the truth will come out. But as anyone who has followed Russian attempts to manipulate Western democracies will know, this story did not come out of nowhere.

I have spoken to many conservative sources who are concerned about the direction of their party and equally concerned that the security services are shirking their responsibilities. A security source said MI5 could not intervene in party political affairs. He cited the “Wilson doctrine,” Harold Wilson’s rule that security services should not tap the phones of parliamentarians. Since no one is suggesting that they should, but rather should consider attempts to manipulate governments, the answer overlooked all available points. I must add that the Observer I tried to speak to MI5 but, perhaps inevitably, they did not answer our questions.

Let me step away from the Amersi case to explain why there is so much fear about where Johnson is taking sides and country. Russia and China want to influence British politics. One way to do this is to give money to the ruling party and run front organizations. In the 2010s, Sergey Nalobin the Russian embassy created the Conservative Friends of Russia. In 2015, his diplomatic visa was revoked after the intervention of the security services.

What about the Conservative Friends of Russia today? Who would the security services warn if they could muster the courage to do their duty? Russia’s intelligence and security committee report explained why MI5, MI6 and the National Crime Agency refrained from investigating Russian participation in the Brexit referendum. It was a political “hot potato” and no one wanted to face the right wing backlash that scrutiny might bring. The report added that Russian money had created a growing industry of “lawyers, accountants and estate agents” in London acting as “facilitators.”

One facilitator is Ben Elliot, whose company Essentially offers “concierge services” to the oligarchs, including advice on what art and wine to buy and how to get their children to the best schools. Quintessentially has an office in Moscow. There is money there, why not? Amersi was a client and was photographed enjoying a party with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Elliot’s aunt and wife of our future king.

In the past, MI5 would have spoken to the cabinet secretary. But today’s cabinet secretary is Simon Case, who is relatively young and inexperienced and appointed by Johnson.

Which leaves our dear Prime Minister. Such is the decline of the Johnson regime, no one expects anything from him. Johnson makes rich men pay for their vacations, their decorators, and even the food on your plate. To say that it is for sale is to underestimate the case against it. It has already been purchased.

Johnson’s prime ministerial position marked our transition from a society with residual notions of honor to a country where money is all you need.

Once, he had to comply with a code if he wanted to join the establishment. If you were caught breaking it, you had to go for fear that your vices could discredit the elite in general. Today, if you pay the right politicians enough, they’ll offer you a concierge service and ignore anyone who asks boring questions about the national interest. Old Britain of good guys who could be trusted, occasionally, to do the right thing is dead. We no longer have a government of good guys, only bad actors.

Nick Cohen is a columnist for Observer


www.theguardian.com

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