In recent years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s financial relationships with British politicians have come under scrutiny, with revelations emerging from the UK’s register of financial interests. Among those raising eyebrows is Philip Hammond, Baron Hammond of Runnymede, a prominent British politician and life peer.
Hammond’s Distinguished Career
Philip Hammond, born on December 4, 1955, has held various prominent positions within the British government. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2016 to 2019, Foreign Secretary from 2014 to 2016, and Defence Secretary from 2011 to 2014. As a member of the Conservative Party, Hammond represented the constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1997 to 2019. However, his career has recently taken a controversial turn, with allegations of lobbying on behalf of Saudi Arabia.
Financial Ties to Saudi Arabia
Hammond’s financial ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have raised concerns. The UK’s register of financial interests reveals that Hammond accepted a watch from the Saudi ambassador worth £1,950 ($2,514) during his tenure as Foreign Secretary. This occurred despite controversy surrounding a mass execution in Saudi Arabia that included a nonviolent government critic. These events have put Hammond under scrutiny for his associations with the Saudi government.
Lobbying for Saudi Interests
In addition to accepting gifts, Hammond has taken up a lobbying role for Saudi Arabia in the UK. This decision has led to fears that he could provide “access and influence” to a foreign government. Some members of a parliamentary watchdog raised concerns about his new position. Despite losing the Tory whip after rebelling against the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans, Hammond established the consultancy firm Matrix Partners and took up over a dozen commissions in the past year.
Advising Saudi Arabia
Hammond’s involvement with Saudi Arabia goes beyond lobbying. He has also assisted the Saudis in preparing for the presidency of the G20. Another role has recently come to light, involving Hammond advising the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance on the delivery of the country’s medium-term financial plan. The objective is to modernize the financial system. However, this role has not been without controversy. The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), which monitors the transition between politics and business, raised concerns about the potential risks associated with Hammond’s consultancy work and the perception of receiving such work due to his time in office.
Questionable Statements on Yemen*
Hammond’s stance on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen has also come under scrutiny. In March 2015, he declared that Britain would support the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen “in every practical way short of engaging in combat.” He further stated that the Saudi-led coalition had complied with humanitarian law. However, this statement was later corrected by the Foreign Office, which clarified that Hammond should have said that they were unable to assess any breaches of International Humanitarian Law by the Saudi-led coalition.
Philip Hammond’s financial ties, lobbying activities, and advisory roles for Saudi Arabia have ignited a debate about the ethics and implications of such relationships between former high-ranking officials and foreign governments. As the controversy continues to unfold, it raises important questions about the transparency and accountability of British political figures in their interactions with foreign powers.