The men from the Ministry
Though the bribe be small, yet the fault is great
Lord Edward Coke (1552–1634)
THE OUTRAGEOUS CASE OF GORDON FOXLEY—AND HOW HE OUT-FOXED THE PURSUING HOUNDS
I’m going to start this section with a case that stretches in one form or another from the 1980s through to 2008. I would have liked to say that this was a shining example of how to root out bribery and corruption at the heart of UK government and that it acted as a deterrent to others. Unfortunately, it is more Inspector Clouseau rather than Fabian of the Yard. It is a sorry tale of bungling ineptitude, government officials’ indifference and bribery on a staggering scale.
For many of those connected with the now closed Royal Ordinance Factory at Blackburn, which lost hundreds of jobs during Foxley’s reign as Director of Ammunition Procurement, Foxley had single-handedly destroyed their business and the careers of their friends and family. Later at his eventual trial, the judge made a point of noting in his summing up that there was no evidence that Foxley’s actions had hastened the demise of the Royal Ordinance Factory at Blackburn.
This is the story of how a cynical fraudster managed first to line his own pockets and then, remarkably, despite everything that happened, the pockets of the Ministry of Defence. Whether the UK Government and its citizens were net losers or beneficiaries is highly debatable. I’ll return to that topic once you’ve read through the case and had the chance to make ...