Initiator of anti-Azerbaijani campaign in the UK - EXPOSURE

Mon 23 October 2017 12:18 GMT | 16:18 Local Time

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A hearing was held on the "Laundromat scheme in Azerbaijan" in the British Parliament, on the initiative of Labor Party member Margaret Hodge.

First spoke the initiator, followed by comments from three people and the response of the state minister of business, energy and industrial strategy, Margo James, vesti.az reports.

The hearings were attended by only 7-8 people. In her speech, Hodge sharply criticized Azerbaijan. A significant portion of the speech is devoted to local banks and enterprises (Shell Companies, Scottish Limited Partnership), through which the abovementioned mechanism allegedly operates. One of the remarks to the speech was made by Laborist Paul Flynn, known for his hostile attitude toward Azerbaijan. Supporting comments also came from Laborites Rupa Hug and Nick Smith.

It is notesworthy that since 2001 Hodge has occupied posts of the assistant state minister on people with disabilities, the state minister on children's issues, the state minister on labor issues, the state minister on culture and tourism. In 2015-2015 she headed the parliamentary committee on public accounts.

In the British political circles she has a somewhat contradictory reputation. In 2004, Privacy International recognized her as the "weakest civil servant". In the same year, a member of the campaign "Fathers for Justice" Sainsby  wore handcuffs on Hodge, in a sign of a protest, accusing her of abusing child  policies. In 2006, Hodge was accused of propaganda in favor of another party, and some Labor activists even raised the issue of her expulsion from the ranks. The scandal was then interrupted by mayor of London, Laborist Ken Livingston, who stated that Hodge "is expanding the propaganda for the British National Party".

In 2007, some media outlets accused Hodge of calling the war in Iraq "a big mistake", and this was the reason for accusations of betrayal of Prime Minister Blair. In the same year, she advocated the transfer of priority in the housing issue from migrants to local families, and thus raised sharp criticism from the Council of Refugees. In 2010, she proposed to introduce paid entry of motor vehicles into some London parks, which triggered protests in southern London, and the author was sharply criticized even by some leading Labor figures.

Hodge has been criticized as the chairman of committee on public accounts. In addition, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said that  Stemcor, founded in 2012 by her father, which until 2008 was run by her brother, conducting business in the amount of 2.1 billion, paid a tax of "0.01 pence" asking a question , how appropriate it is for her to stay with the leadership of the committee.

In 2015, The Times reported that using certain financial schemes, Hodge benefited from the closure of the "Lichtenstein Foundation", which had a stake in Stemcor. According to the newspaper, as a result of the fund's closure, Hodge got 96,000 shares worth a total of 1.5 mln pounds. In response, Hodge said that she did not play any role in the development and implementation of this scheme and that she fully paid taxes for the shares received. Nevertheless, after the elections of 2015 she did not nominate for this committee.

We believe that such a closed hearing and other factors make it possible to think that accusations against Azerbaijan are used as an excuse for hitting some local financial structures. It should also be noted that for two years Hodge has been trying to raise the issue of some local companies (Shell Companies, Scottish Ltd Partnership) before the Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, but to no avail. Now this goal has been achieved through the use of the anti-Azerbaijani campaign. Along with this, no documents were adopted after the hearings, and this can be considered the main positive result.

It should be taken into account that the interests of several political groups coincide here. First of all, this is an anti-Azerbaijani group, and at the same time she is competing with some local banks and companies (M.Hodge). There is also a grouping that seeks to close these companies from a purely economic point of view (R. Zug, N. Smith). Finally, a group that is clearly hostile to Azerbaijan (P. Flynn).

Hodge's speech is yet another evidence of anti-Azerbaijani propaganda orchestrated in some media. The text of the speech abounds with mistakes (for example, Volunte is presented as a woman), and this gives grounds for the conclusion that she is someone's puppet. This is evidenced by the fact that right after the hearing the material was posted on The Guardian's website.

News.Az

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