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Is this why ex-Foreign Office boss wants a ban? Mandarin who dragged Queen into state visit row is paid by arms giant on Trump’s hit-list

  • Lord Ricketts, permanent secretary from 2006-2010, slammed planned visit
  • In public letter, he said Theresa May had put Queen in ‘very difficult position’
  • It has now emerged he is adviser to Lockheed Martin, which took financial hit
  • Last week, Trump announced contract was slashed by $600million (£478m) 
Lord Ricketts, pictured with actress Salma Hayek, is US defence giant Lockheed Martin's main adviser in the UK
Lord Ricketts, pictured with actress Salma Hayek, is US defence giant Lockheed Martin’s main adviser in the UK

A former Foreign Office mandarin who dragged the Queen into the row over Donald Trump’s state visit is paid to advise a defence company that has taken a huge financial hit from the new president.

Lord Ricketts, permanent secretary at the department from 2006-10 before becoming David Cameron’s national security adviser, questioned whether the US leader was ‘specially deserving of this exceptional honour’.

He hit out at Theresa May’s ‘ill-judged’ move, saying it had exposed the Queen to a furious row about Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban on seven Muslim countries.

The invitation had put the monarch in a ‘very difficult position’, he said.

But it emerged that his intervention happened to coincide with President Trump announcing that a contract with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin would be slashed.

On Monday, the White House forced the company to cut its price for supplying 90 new F-35 stealth fighter jets by $600million (£478million). The full cost of delivering the tranche of state-of-the-art aircraft was $9billion (£7.2billion). Britain is set to buy 48 of the jets.

Last night critics expressed concern that Lockheed’s top British strategic adviser was undermining President Trump’s trip to the UK because of his treatment of the defence manufacturer.

But Lord Ricketts, 64, strenuously denied there was any conflict of interest – and insisted he had spoken out only as an ex-FCO official who had been in charge of the department’s Royal Visits Committee.

The Prime Minister’s invitation to Mr Trump sparked an outcry in the UK, with more than 1.6million people signing a petition calling for it to be scrapped. Lord Ricketts, who was given a peerage in Mr Cameron’s resignation honours list last August, intervened in the row with a letter to The Times.

He told Radio 4 yesterday: ‘I think if you did it two or three years into the Trump presidency, the controversial early policy announcements would have been out of the way, things would have settled down.

Lord Ricketts' intervention happened to coincide with President Trump announcing that a contract with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin would be slashed

‘It would have been possible, I think, to have invited the president… to come on an official visit to have political talks, to have whatever programme he wanted, go and have tea with the Queen, but without the full panoply, the full accolade of a state visit quite so quickly.’

Lord Ricketts became a strategic adviser to Lockheed Martin UK in September last year – just eight months after quitting the diplomatic corps. He has listed his role with the firm in the Register of Lords’ Interests but is not required to set out his remuneration.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith last night lashed out at the former top bureaucrat.

He said: ‘Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I have to say it is abusing his old role by coming forward at this point to suggest the Government has put the Queen in an invidious position by holding a state visit for the president.

‘Not only did he backtrack on his initial idea that the visit should be cancelled, he also failed to declare his interest in a company that President Trump has lectured about the ludicrously over-priced aircraft. There looks to be a conflict of interest.’

SUPPORT FOR THE PRO-TRUMP PETITION IS GATHERING PACE  (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/178844 – Ed)

More than 10,000 people an hour were signing a petition calling for Donald Trump to be granted a state visit last night.

The US President has faced an online backlash in Britain since announcing his controversial travel ban at the weekend, with more than 1.7million signing a petition urging ministers to withdraw the offer of a state visit.

But yesterday pro-Trump supporters hit back with their own online appeal, which had gathered more than 170,000 signatures last night.

The petition states that Mr Trump should be invited ‘because he is the leader of a free world and the UK is a country that supports free speech and does not believe that people that appose [sic] our point of view should be gagged.’ By last night the petition was attracting 10,000 signatures an hour, overtaking the 8,600 signatures an hour of the huge anti-Trump plea.

MPs will debate both petitions on February 20, it was announced last night.

The anti-Trump document states: ‘Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.

‘Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.’

n Austria has become the latest European country to ban burkas after its leaders said that they did not belong in an ‘open society’.

The move will see the Islamic veils prohibited in public places, while public servants will be prevented from wearing the head coverings.

The controversial decision is a part of a series of measures aimed to win back support from the far-Right. They include plans to force migrants to sign an ‘integration contract’ and a ‘statement of values’, and former jihadi suspects to be forced to wear electronic tags.

Lord Hague said: ‘A Queen who has been asked over the decades to host tyrants such as presidents Mobutu of Zaire and Ceausescu of Romania is going to take a brash billionaire from New York effortlessly in her stride.’

Lord Ricketts told the Mail last night: ‘My intervention was purely personal, drawing on my experience at the Foreign Office. I had a personal point to make into this debate and as a former senior civil servant, I was stating my view in public. There is absolutely no conflict of interest.’

A Lockheed Martin UK spokesman said: ‘Lord Ricketts was speaking in a private capacity and his views are not those of Lockheed Martin.’ Mrs May’s spokesman said she did not ‘accept’ the adviser’s view.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4177846/Lord-slammed-Trump-visit-works-firm-hit-slash.html#ixzz4XNkCr3he
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4177846/Lord-slammed-Trump-visit-works-firm-hit-slash.html

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