Following the scandalous sequence of events outlined below, I sent copies of what follows to all political leaders; the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, each of the Gang of Four, who had just started up the 'grassroots oriented' SDP, to my MP, and to journalists. I received no reply from any of them. The wasting of billions of pounds on phoney weapons projects was a matter of indifference to all brands of politician and journalist.

Throughout the events discussed below, I was in employment in GEC on various 'defence' projects, behind the Official Secrets Act curtain. Many engineers were very upset at the damage that they saw being done around them. Much later, when I took the post of Principal Lecturer at Watford College (now West Herts College), there was a good goodbye ceremony with presents from my bosses when I resigned from GEC. At that time I was in the Portsmouth area, but I had also been employed in GEC at Rochester, Wembley, Borehamwood, Stanmore. I knew a lot about a lot of projects. The scandals surfaced a decade later.

Ivor Catt nov98.

 

This presents the background to "REPORT ON THE MEETING OF 14 Nov. 1980"

Dear Mr. Gibbon,

Thank you for advising me of the postponement for two weeks of our Friday 24 October meeting, due to the untimely death of the uncle of a colleague of one of the civil servants who was due to attend. This delay gives me time to write a position paper which will give you a general feel for my position.

Position Paper. October 1980.

The situation is complex, with many facets. None of this paper is definite. I shall merely try to touch on each general area and indicate to some slight degree how I see it.

There will have been numerous attempts to reform the state of the 'defence' industry, all of which have failed. It is now generally agreed that the industry is completely out of control. It is also clear that the amount of money it is soaking up, and the amount of damage it is doing, is on the increase. The damage comes under various categories.

  1. Useless development projects prevent the start of viable projects, so that no viable weaponry can be developed.
  2. As the amount of money being poured into these useless projects has now reached the rate of hundreds of millions of pounds per year, the 'defence' industry has become a prime factor, probably the major factor, in the collapse of our economy.
  3. The 'defence' industry soaks up all money that would otherwise be available for high technology projects, so that experts in a number of key technologies are sucked in and prevented from doing useful work. Also, the development of their expertise comes to a halt. For instance, the nonsensical 'defence' projects over the last five or ten years have wrecked the British electronics profession, so that there is no longer in this country a viable electronic technology professional infrastructure which might be used as a basis for the starting up of a viable, real, defence industry, or other industry with significant electronics content.
  4. The politicians, who are technically ignorant, are no match for the civil servants, who make decisions on where the money will be jettisoned. In any case, politicians do not last long enough to take any very useful action, but merely resort to a 'holding' action to prevent trouble from surfacing during their tenure.
  5. It is not clear why the civil servants are willing to throw away such quantities of taxpayers' money. One good reason, of course, is empire building. Another is that civil servants, on retirement, take jobs with the companies they were previously funding. Certainly this applies to the key, senior, decision making civil servants. It is quite possible that in general, no direct corruption of civil servants by companies receiving MoD money is involved. The large scale employment of retired army generals etc. by the companies would explain the racket to some extent, if it can be shown that senior military men have close connections with senior MoD men. Of course, the generals could call for the development of particular kinds of weapons shortly before retirement. That would close the loop.
  6. It is virtually certain that a very large percentage of civil servants in the MoD are as concerned as I am about the present situation; possibly all of them.
  7. The level of investment in defence by our enemies will relate to our expenditure on defence and 'defence', rather than on the weaponry we develop. This means that phoney defence projects are particularly dangerous, since they incite our enemies to arm while leaving us defenceless.
  8. The impotence of the politicians plus the blockage of the Official Secrets Act mean that the only place where reform could originate is the MoD. Alternatively, the limits of the Official Secrets Act need to be tested. This latter might be investigated by canvassing the judges who handle cases of breach of the Official Secrets Act. They could be asked whether there is a limit to the amount of taxpayers' money that can be jettisoned before the Official Secrets Act has been ipso facto rendered inoperative. I personally would put the figure at 100,000,000. Also, politicians could be canvassed with the same question, with a view to modifying the Official Secrets Act to make it inoperative in the case of misuse of funds at a level exceeding 100,000,000.
  9. Superficially, it might be argued that it is in the national interest to suppress evidence that major weapons development projects have failed. However, now that we can see that frequent suppression of such information has led to this country being disarmed while inciting others to arm, we should conclude that our best interests have not been served by secrecy. Secrecy has first and foremost made possible the swindling of the country by manufacturers of phoney products, and the damage far outweighs any good achieved by secrecy. In the light of the experience of the last few years, politicians should consider whether secrecy has aided this country or damaged it.
  10. The Nuremberg Trials established that when a governmental system breaks down, individuals within organisations have individual responsibility in the case of major decision making Politicians do not last long enough, or have enough competence, to control the major, disastrous 'defence' projects currently in 'progress' in this country. Civil servants, on the other hand, are paid to have such technical competence, understanding and control. The man or committee member who signs away, for instance, the next 200,000,000 on Stingray, was paid his salary on the understanding that he would make himself competent to judge whether he was conniving in the waste of taxpayers' money.

It seems to me that our only chance to reduce the massive damage to our defence and too our economy as a result of the continuation of these ridiculous projects is to bring home to such individuals their responsibility, as demonstrated by the Nuremberg verdicts. They might be pursued through the courts, or, to be more practical, by other means. An example of 'other means' is that their wives, children, neighbours and professional associates should be informed that they are taking, or have taken, a major part in the wrecking of our economy.

These proposals, to bring pressure to bear on such individuals, will first be checked with the judiciary for advice on their legality. If illegal, the politicians must be asked to change the law. Even a slow procedure is worthwhile, because even the tail end of our North Sea Oil revenues is worth saving. I think that such treatment of such civil servants is legal, being so obviously in the public interest. If the current authorities could find no one willing to authorise the funding of idiotic 'defence' projects, the public interest would benefit greatly. [signed] Ivor Catt

2nd December 1980

In early July, Ivor Catt wrote to his M.P. expressing concern about the state of certain MoD funded defence projects in industry. After some involvement with the Minister of State for Defence and the Attorney General, a meeting between Catt and some MoD officials was arranged.

REPORT ON THE MEETING OF 14 NOV. 1980

Location. Main Building, MoD, Whitehall. Time 10.30 a.m.

Present. Ivor Catt

For MoD.

J.M. Gibbon, Heat of International and Industrial Policy Division 1

Mr. Lidgett

Mr. Hurr

Mr. Maloney

The meeting lasted three hours. The MoD men refused to supply Catt with any information whatsoever. They told him nothing that they could not have told a representative of a hostile government. (Anthony Jay would say that that was exactly what he was!)

Gibbon was an administrator. The rest were engineers. They were unaware of the reality in the 'defence' projects in GEC companies. [nov1998. In the intervening twenty years, in spite of the govt. slush fund, GEC shares fared badly compared with other shares in their sector. However, the two carriages taking the Queen and the Duke to Ascot this summer also contained the Chief Executive of GEC and his wife.]

They all agreed that they did not want to take up Catt's proposal, that they meet five people working in GEC 'defence' projects, to get confirmation of Catt's allegations.

Hurr identified closely with upper management of GEC. He said he "had known Mariner (a senior manager in GEC-MAV) since he started at the work bench." Hurr fits very well into the role suggested in Wireless World, Nov. 1980, page 57;

"In the electronics industry the norm is for a technically ignorant and careless customer to accept useless equipment from a technically ignorant manufacturer. The so-called 'trials' are rigged. Corruption is not generally involved; only stupidity and misplaced loyalty on the part of the treacherous representatives of the long-suffering taxpayer."

Hurr was very conscious of the fact that GEC was rare in having engineers in high positions in management. It is quite possible that he has over-reacted to this knowledge and poured money into GEC on the mistaken assumption that the presence of engineers in high places proves that things are as they should be.

Although the MoD men rrefused to give any information as to their responsibilities, it seemed clear to me that most of those present had too much to defend in their past actions, in funding GEC etc., and will concentrate on defending the past at the expense of the future. Defence of past actions means throwing good (taxpayers') money after bad.

During the meeting, Hurr developed the theory that Catt had connived in the design/development of faulty equipment.

Gibbon could usefully regard the meeting as a situation where the administrator (himself) played off MoD engineers against another engineer (Catt).

Catt asked Maloney to give two criteria that he would use to judge the competence of a company. Catt claimed that any criteria must rate GEC-MSDS worse than other companies. Maloney refused to give any criteria except "Do they deliver?" He later agreed with Catt that the specification of what was to be delivered was nowadays written by the supplier, not the customer. (In such a situation, it would take a very odd supplier to fail to 'deliver'.) The MoD men all said that it was the new government policy to have the supplier specify the product, rather than (as in the past) the customer (i.e. MoD).

When Catt asked the MoD men to examine any GEC library and note the absence of any technical books less than ten years old, Maloney said this might lead to better designs. This was typical of his general attitude.

They refused to supply any information as to their responsibilities or functions, although pressed for this a number of times. I would surmise that Hurr is the top technical man, responsible for the major decisions of the last few years - funding Tornado, AEW, Stingray etc - and would suffer should Catt be proved right in his allegations.

It became clear that the MoD men will treat the meeting like a bad dream. [nov98. O am, told that one died of a heart attack two weeks later.] Their refusal to meet other dissidents working on these projects I regard as very significant. Presumably ot would be convenient to limit the subject to Catt, so that it can be dismissed as some individual aberration.

The best chance of some reforming action is I think with Gibbon, but I fear that even he is too responsible for past errors to be able to do much. [signed] Ivor Catt

 Zapping at Greenham Common. Freedom loving Englishwomen try to exceed the lies and subterfuge of the weapons industry.