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Fund manager raises alarm over dropping of BAE inquiry

Link: Fund manager raises alarm over dropping of BAE inquiry | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics.

I am an English-qualified commercial lawyer, practising in Moscow. My government's Christmas present to me has been to make my work more difficult.

Western clients negotiating joint ventures with Russian companies are anxious to build in contractual safeguards against corruption. You can imagine that the Russian companies take offence - sometimes real, sometimes synthetic. It's a delicate topic and I often feel sorry for honest Russian businessmen dealing with the consequences of their country's less-than-stellar reputation.

Britain's reputation as a relatively "clean" business culture has at least allowed me to deal with the issue straight-faced. Now I face a New Year full of nods, winks and references to Britain's "selective approach."

President Putin enjoyed teasing British journalists at the St Petersburg G8 summit this year with references to Lord Levy. Now his business compatriates get to join in the fun. Thanks, New Labour. "Forward, not back" - ever deeper into the mire.

As for the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, he should be disbarred for uttering the shameful words

"It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest"
Nothing has served the British public interest better than the rule of law. Nothing has damaged that more than the disrespect into which New Labour has brought the law by what Andrew Marr called "binge legislating." Now Goldsmith demonstrates, in a different way, the contempt that the failed lawyers of New Labour feel for the legal principles they never grasped in their careers.

Gentle reader, I promise you I am casting about for something Christmassy and cheerful to post. Fingers crossed. There are still 24 hours to go.


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I entirely agree with you on the contempt New Labour has for the law. The trouble is, their attitude in conjunction with the idiocy of much of this torrent of new legislation endangers respect for the law in the general public as well.

As for the Russian business environment, the honest businessperson (and I've every reason to believe the average Russian is no more nor less inclined to corruption by nature than his or her British counterpart) does have to operate in a climate of endemic corruption, otherwise they will be beset by countless, pointless and, crucially, disruptive "inspections" by various public bodies. I also heard that, if they were to obey every tax law, a small business would end up paying 130%... No wonder that people are forced into dishonesty against their better instincts. That's not considering the tariff paid to whoever provides their krysha, who will be ever-so-slightly shady...

Someone on, of all places, a motorcycle list I subscribe to made the point that the UK is becoming increasingly similar to a country like Russia, in which both politicians and the laws they pass are held in contempt. Wouldn't that make a glowing passage in ex-lawyer Blair's legacy?

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