spent $1m lobbying in US
The Observer, May 19, 2002
By Antony Barnett and Solomon Hughes
The state-owned nuclear firm BNFL has spent more than $1 million (£650,000)
of British taxpayers' money making donations to George Bush's Republican
Party and hiring White House lobbyists to push its controversial nuclear
agenda in the United States.
Labour backbenchers have described the revelations as a 'scandalous
of public money', with one describing it as tantamount to 'state-sponsored
bribery'. Environmental groups have also attacked the payments as a
for access' scandal.
At the end of February the Bush administration gave its backing to
allowing it to ship an unwanted cargo of plutonium fuel from Japan to
Britain. The nuclear fuel on board could make large numbers of atomic
weapons and opponents argued that following 11 September the shipment
be a target for terrorists and should be blocked.
BNFL - wholly owned by the British government - is lobbying the Bush
administration for approval to construct new nuclear reactors in the
which it also wants to build in Britain.
Labour MP David Chaytor called the political payments 'outrageous'
be tabling questions in the Commons this week.
He said: 'The fact that a company owned by the British government -
but bankrupt - is making massive political payments in the US is a
scandalous waste of public money. The fact that the timing of this spending
relates to key policy decisions raises disturbing questions.'
An analysis of the company's donations since it bought US nuclear firm
Westinghouse in 1999 reveal BNFL has made $300,000 in political donations,
with the majority going to Bush's Republicans, although the firm has
given significant sums to the Democrats.
Records seen by The Observer also disclose that BNFL paid $950,000
Washington lobbying firms between 1998 and 2000. The money was paid
host of congressional lobbyists to persuade US lawmakers to work to
agenda on issues from 'transporting radioactive materials' to 'uranium
In return for its payments, BNFL officials had meetings with officials
the Bush administration, and won backing from the American government
the firm's controversial activities.