Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don't faze me, sorry, tase me, bro!

OK, so the report by Gus O'Donnell into Liam Fox and Adam "I can't believe he's not Mike Ledeen" Werritty specified some companies as donors to the various odd parallel structures that supported Fox and Werritty. One of these is given in the report as G3 Ltd. This has been described in the papers as being an "international investigations and security company founded by former MI6 officers". Sounds kewl, no? In fact, I suspected it might be an international logistics and security company of similar name from this post - didn't the blog used to be good back then? - but it's not.

Of course, there's no mystery about the directors of a British company. You just look'em up on Companies House's Webcheck service. OpenCorporates and Companies in the UK are also very handy. But if you want the directors of a company, you've got to put up with Companies House's dreadful website and pay them £3 a time. Hey - it's less than a pint.

So I looked up G3 Ltd. It's based on a featurelessly dull business park in Daventry. It has one director, Glenn Mark Cameron, born on the 25th of March 1977. He is, as far as I know, no relation. He also had another company, G3i Ltd., based in the same business park. But that isn't the name we're looking for. However, G3i Ltd. did describe its business as involving "investigations and security". Mr. Cameron lives in Daventry - the address is available to anyone who can find £3 and use the website. It seems to be completely unremarkable.

G3 Ltd, though, has a couple of interesting features. One of them is that it was incorporated as recently as the 30th of August. G3i is much older, but was shut down in March. So it was set up in August and immediately started sending money to political causes? Further, it doesn't seem to have any visible business. (It doesn't need to file accounts for a long while yet.)

Glenn Cameron has a LinkedIn profile, which mentions G3i but not G3. (He's also on Twitter.) G3i is no James Bond venture, but apparently a perfectly sensible small-town IT shop, which later diversified. This is where things get interesting. One of the advantages of CompaniesintheUK is that although you can't query companies for their directors, you can query by director. Glenn Mark Cameron is also a director of a small plastics firm, a pet shop, and two near-identical firms called Pro-Tect Systems and Pro-Tec Security Systems. All of them are located close together in Daventry.

Forget the pet shop. Pro-Tect was around for a while, but Pro-Tect Security Systems was incorporated as recently as April 2011. Which leads us to this December 2010 blog post. Now, let's hop back to the LinkedIn profile. Cameron claims to be in charge of Tactical Safety Responses Ltd, which owns and sells tasers to the British military and police forces. Blogger Richard Taylor pointed out that Glenn Cameron is one of its directors, as well as being company secretary of the first Pro-Tect.

Well, why care? The old Pro-Tect was stripped of its authorisation to own tasers, which are legally considered to be weapons for the purposes of the Firearms Act 1968 and need a licence from the Home Office. Instead, TSR Ltd. sprang up and was given the authorisation, despite the same people being behind it. Why did the Home Office take the T-bird away from Pro-Tect? Because they let the Northumbria Police have a new and untried version of the Taser, without the Home Office giving its approval, and they pointed it at one Raoul Moat while he was pointing a gun at his head, and the police pulled the trigger, and the gun went off!

So, Pro-Tect/Pro-Tect Security/Tactical Security Responses seem to be one and the same, and to have hastily swapped company in order to evade the consequences of this regrettable, sticky, and pinkish mess. Right. And their business model is that they have the exclusive right to sell Tasers to the police and the MoD. I wonder what possible interest they might have had in exerting influence on the MoD, and who knows, the Home Office too?

Put like that, it's a story of fairly petty influence-peddling. However, Gus O'Donnell didn't get to become Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, the Pope of Bureaucracy, by making mistakes over detail. It wasn't G3i or G3(UK) Ltd or Pro-Tect or TSR that appears in the report. It's G3 Ltd. (Even if the last revision time on the PDF is 1719, or about 26 minutes before the thing was finally handed out.)

Which leaves us with the strong impression that donations were being collected through this channel very recently, since the 30th of August, via a firm that has not apparently traded in any way. You might suspect that it exists just for this purpose. Further, people involved had financial interests in lobbying the government. And somebody in government felt it necessary to push out the message to the press that this story involved mystery spies and people with funny South African names. Why?

For the record, even if it was G3(UK) Ltd. and GOD had made a cock of the job, Andries Pienaar is not a director of that company. And if G3 Ltd is a company in some foreign jurisdiction, well, it's got no legal business donating money to politicians.


Anonymous said...

Interesting! But is there a good reason not to think that the Cabinet Office report is just sloppy, and *is* really referring to the G3 Good Governance Group Ltd that The Times says is listed in Pargav's bank account records as a donor?

Alex said...

None beyond the point that *that's the one in the document* and that apparently it was repeatedly revised with Fox's lawyer present, as late as 1719 hours on the day of publication according to the pdf's metadata.

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