LONDON — The president of Britain's largest military charity resigned on Oct. 15 over claims that he offered to lobby illicitly for arms companies at commemorative events for Britain's war dead.
Lt. Gen. Sir John Kiszely denied that he had used his role at the Royal British Legion charity to help firms access his government contacts, but said it would be “inappropriate” for him to remain as its president.
“I have never breached any government rules related to lobbying,” said64-year-old Kiszely, a commander in conflicts including the Falklands, Bosnia and Iraq who was also formerly head of Britain's Defence Academy. “But I made exaggerated and foolish claims to the contrary, incompatible with my position in the Legion.”
The resignation comes after The Sunday Times newspaper filmed Kiszely and three other retired senior officers apparently offering to help arms firms access government figures in exchange for hundreds of thousands of pounds. The newspaper said Kiszely had offered to lobby Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior figures at commemorative events for Britain's annual day of remembrance.
The Ministry of Defence has said it will investigate whether any of the four men have broken any rules.
Ex-military officers may take on private sector work but are subject to regulations including a ban on lobbying for two years after they leave.
British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond warned Oct. 14 that his ministry was prepared to “shut the door” on former generals if they abused their access to government contacts.
Britain has the world's fourth largest military expenditure, according to are port on spending in 2011 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.