The Ministry of Justice and the Saudis: ten more unanswered questions

27th January 2015

At 10:46 this morning I emailed the following questions to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) press office for answers by 17:00 (for a follow-up piece to this detailed post on the serious conflict of interest created by the proposed MoJ commercial deal with the Saudi state):

1. Who is the Saudi representative at the [global law] summit? [MoJ had confirmed there was one.]
 
2. The Saudi proposal is described [to be] competitive – has it been advertised?  
 
3. Also, re the Saudi proposal, what is the specification the MoJ is bidding against, and what are the bidding criteria?
 
4. How much will the summit cost (a) the MoJ and (b) central government generally?
 
5. How many contracts have so far been entered into by JSi? Or will the Saudi deal be the first?
 
6. On LinkedIn, JSi personnel seem to have been in post since 2012 – how much has the JSi project cost MoJ since 2012?
 
7. There seems to be at least four civil servants working on JSi full time – can this be confirmed?
 
8. If there are no external advisers involved, why did PwC describe JSi on its blog?  And why does the JSi brochure happen to use PwC boilerplate?

 

At 10:54, a senior member of the press office responds helpfully:

Thanks – we’ll get onto these

 

At 11:11, I email further:

Many thanks. I missed out the one below, sorry:

9. What are the titles, sub-titles and the topics covered in the Saudi MoU? (I see no reason why this cannot be disclosed, even if you cannot disclose the document itself.)

 

And at 13:30 I email:

Oh, and this:

 10. What will be the termination provisions in the proposed commercial deal?  In what circumstances will either party be able to terminate the agreement?
 
Sorry, should have asked before.

 

At 16:46 I get this encouraging response from the same senior press officer:

Hi – almost there on these but won’t quite hit 5 – should be with you by half five at latest.

 

But then at 17:55:

Evening

I’m very sorry but I’m afraid the department has no further comment to make on any of the below questions.

 

So was the 16:46 email intended to be false and misleading?  Or, if it was not, what happened between 16:46 and 17:55?

And why does the MoJ not want to provide information in answer to these ten straightforward questions?

5 thoughts on “The Ministry of Justice and the Saudis: ten more unanswered questions”

  1. BERNARD: “Sir Humphrey, what a pleasant surprise. Could you just cast an eye over this draft response to a press inquiry? I wasn’t quite sure about this one and this one – I think the rest are pretty solid though…”

  2. Ah yes: the MoJ’s Global Summit to commemorate the Magna Carta anniversary.

    I’ve heard the predictable “It’s so blatant, how *could* they?” about BAe’s leading role, and it all seems to be a terrible misunderstanding.

    …A misunderstanding of an elementary principle of business in the real world: namely, the red light in the window of a knocking-shop.

    People see it and bleat “Disgraceful! How blatant! How could they? Surely they’ll get raided if they draw attention to themselves!” but they’re completely missing the point.

    The red light isn’t advertising the house – everybody knows where it is and what they do in there – it’s advertising *the fact that everybody knows*.

    Everybody, including the Constabulary, who know what’s good for business and have chosen to ignore it.

    The red light in the window isn’t an advertisement: it’s an assurance to present and potential punters, that the authorities won’t interfere.

    Do, please, feel free to offer better explanations of BAe’s support for the Ministry of Justice.

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