Much has been made of the woes at the Ministry of Defence occasionally run by part-timer Des Browne MP (he is also Minister for Scotland). At a time when our Armed Forces are spread very thinly, the top brass have made their feelings known about the lack of basic equipment for frontline troops.
The unit which came up with the MoD’s more advanced weapon was sold in 2003 to US venture capitalists Carlyle, enriching some senior civil servants. Sir John Chisholm, Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) invested £100,000 in the buyout. The organisation was renamed QinetiQ, Sir John saw a profit of £25,000,000. Unsurprisingly, the Public Accounts Committee have been asking questions. This led to an amazing exchange as reported in Private Eye which says much about the current state of Defence spending in this country:-
Richard Bacon MP (Con, S. Norfolk): “Mr Wooley, are you a chartered accountant?”
Trevor Woolley (MoD): “I am not.”
Bacon: “Are you a qualified financial person of any kind? Do you have any financial qualifications?”
Woolley: “I do not have financial qualifications.”
Bacon: “What is your job?”
Woolley: “I am the finance director of the Ministry of Defence.”