Comic Relief bosses were left with red faces (as opposed to noses) yesterday when the BBC reported that the charity had invested in funds holding shares in arms and tobacco companies. Of the various revelations uncovered by Panorama, the most richly ironic is surely the £630,000 invested in BAE Systems while giving millions of pounds in aid to Tanzania.
The poverty-stricken country has no airforce. But that didn’t stop them paying BAE Systems for a £28m on an out-of-date military aircraft control system that they didn’t need. Not only was the deal massively inappropriate to the country’s requirements — it had been lubricated by at least £7.7m of what BAE euphemistically refer to as “commission payments to a marketing adviser”, known to the rest of the world as “bribes”.
When prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office, BAE reached a deal last year which involved at least £29.5m going towards educational projects in the East African state.
Surely an opportunity to send the Comic Relief cameras down to inspect the good works?