Tory MP Mark Pritchard, who represents the Shropshire constituency of The Wrekin, is rather well connected for someone who represents one of the country’s more rural areas. He is also not backward in coming forward when it comes to engaging the services of lawyers, the most recent instance being in response to an undercover operation by the Maily Telegraph over his contacts in Albania.
Pritchard is also a firm supporter of the security services, and was not slow to insert his bugle into the row following the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport when en route from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro recently. He was dismissive of Greenwald’s protests: “It may have inconvenienced the Guardian and those that work directly or indirectly for the Guardian”.
And, of course, they’re subversive and rotten lefties, and so don’t matter. So who does matter? “But the fact is they had concerns that there may have been somebody carrying sensitive material that may have directly or indirectly undermined our national security. And I'm glad the police took the action they did”. The security services. That’s who matters to Mark Pritchard.
And recently, he has “called for a debate to reform the Official Secrets Act to ensure people are deterred from committing ‘treason’ against the country”. One wonders what his definition of “treason” is. But that is a side show compared to the claim made by the Tel that Pritchard is all too ready to exploit his contacts in other countries for money, something he denies.
The problem with both the steadfast support of the security services, and the denial about his alleged behaviour as revealed in the Telegraph – together with the associated threats of legal action – is that the Independent has now further revealed that Pritchard “receives fees from US intelligence firm while holding security positions in Parliament”. Well, well.
Ali Soufan runs the Soufan Group, a private intelligence organisation based in New York City, and “Mr Soufan has been paying a British MP with heavy involvement in the Government’s defence and intelligence operations as well as with Nato, as an adviser at a rate of more than £2,000 a month for 13-and-a-half hours’ work”. Who might that be? Mark Pritchard, come on down!
Soufan Group tells visitors to its website that Pritchard is “a member of the UK delegation to the Nato Parliamentary Assembly, and is also a member of the UK National Security Strategy Committee”. Is it appropriate for someone in that position to be trousering £27k a year on the back of his knowledge? Hopefully, more will ask the question next time Pritchard sounds off on security matters.
The Independent may have just done the Telegraph and Guardian a service there.