David Cameron gaffe to Queen, calls Nigeria, Afghanistan ‘fantastically corrupt’

May 11, 2016 8:00 am
The Queen speaks to Prime Minister , second right, as leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling, right, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, look on. Photo / APDavid Cameron has admitted that and are “two of the most corrupt countries in the world” in a private conversation with the Queen.
The comments caused a row because the two developing countries receive between them hundreds of millions of pounds in aid money from British taxpayers every year.
The Prime Minister was caught on camera telling the Queen about an anti-corruption summit he is hosting in London tomorrow which will see “leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain”.
In a pooled video feed made available to the ITN broadcaster, Cameron was shown talking with the Queen about the summit at a reception at Buckingham Palace.
“We had a very successful Cabinet meeting this morning, talking about our anti-corruption summit,” Cameron said, when the Queen approached.
Cameron went on: “Nigeria and Afghanistan – possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.””We have got the Nigerians – actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain.”
The Queen did not respond to Cameron’s comment but the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby who was near the pair said: “But this particular president is actually not corrupt.”
According to one account, a bystander joked to Cameron: “They are coming at their own expense one assumes?”
Cameron replied: “Everything has to be open. There are no sort of closed-door sessions. Everything has to be in front of the press. It’s going to be…It could be quite interesting.”
There was speculation in Westminster that Cameron could have made the remarks near the cameras in a bid to attract publicity for the summit.
Number 10 admitted the Prime Minister was aware he was being filmed at the time he spoke, saying: “The cameras were very close to him. There were multiple cameras in the room.”
But Conservative MPs who are critics of the size of the aid budget seized on the admission, pointing out that in 2014 Nigeria and Afghanistan received £435 million in aid from the .
Andrew Bridgen MP said the payments to the two countries had to stop “because it’s like offering a bottle of whisky to an alcoholic, they need to clean up their act first”.
He added: “There should be a DfiD list of corrupt regimes that don’t get aid and list should be publicised to but pressure on these corrupt regimes.”
Philip Davies, another critical Tory MP, added: “I am sure the Prime Minister is right about these countries – I have got no doubt he is right about them.
“And so it is absolutely unforgivable that we are giving so much British taxpayers’ money that he knows himself are corrupt.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and Afghan President Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who are both planning to attend the summit, have acknowledged corruption in their countries and have pledged to clean it up.
Afghanistan is 166th, second-from-bottom, in campaign group Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index, an annual ranking of countries. Nigeria is 136th in the index.
It emerged this week that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had spent £150,000 educating his daughter Zahra, a Surrey University student.
Cameron’s comments threatened to become a diplomatic incident, when Buhari said his Government was deeply “shocked and embarrassed” by the comments.
Speaking through his spokesman to the BBC he said Cameron must be referring to Nigeria’s past notoriety for corruption before his coming to power last year
A Number 10 spokesman said that “British aid money does not go directly to the Nigerian or Afghan governments” and the UK was not paying for delegations to attend the summit.
He added: “We have a zero tolerance approach to corruption and have rigorous checks in place to protect taxpayers’ money and take firm action if it is misused.”
The Queen met Cameron and other political leaders from both the Lords and the Commons at Buckingham Palace to mark the her 90th birthday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn missed the engagement to attend a family funeral and wrote to the Queen to explain his absence.
Cameron’s gaffe is not the first time he has been caught on film. In 2014, he was filmed telling New York’s mayor that the Queen had “purred down the line” after he had called her to say Scotland had rejected independence.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has described Afghanistan and Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt” countries.
In a video released on Tuesday, Cameron was caught on camera making the remarks to the British Queen and some political figures while speaking about Thursday’s anti-corruption summit to be held in London with Afghanistan and Nigeria in attendance.
“We had a very successful Cabinet meeting this morning to talk about our anti-corruption summit. We’ve got the Nigerians, actually we’ve got the leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain,” he told the Queen.
“Nigeria and Afghanistan [are] possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”
This is while the leaders of both countries mentioned have already acknowledged that they have problems with corruption and eagerly expressed readiness to attend the summit.
Reacting to Cameron’s comments, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari accused the British premier of “looking at an old snapshot” of the country.
The Afghan embassy in London also called the prime minister’s comments “unfair”.
“President Ghani and his government since in office have taken major steps to fight corruption. Countering corruption is a top priority along security issues for the National Unity Government,” a spokesman for the Afghan embassy said.
“We have made important progresses in fighting systematic capture in major national procurement contracts and are making progress on addressing institutional issues as well as issues related to impunity. Therefore calling Afghanistan in that way and taking bold decisions by NUG is unfair,” the spokesman added.
Transparency International, a global anti-corruption organization, published an annual corruption perceptions index, which ranks countries in order of how corrupt they are perceived to be.
In the most recent index, published in 2015, Afghanistan was ranked in 166th place, above only North Korea and Somalia while Nigeria was in 136th place.
In response to the British Premier’s comments, Transparency International said: “We should not forget that by providing a safe haven for corrupt assets, the UK and its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are a big part of the world’s corruption problem.”   
It is not the first time a gaffe by Cameron has been caught on film. In 2014, he was filmed telling New York’s mayor that the Queen had “purred down the line” after he had called her to say Scotland had rejected independence. 
David Cameron was caught on camera telling the Queen that leaders of some “fantastically corrupt” countries, including Nigeria and Afghanistan, were due to attend his anti-corruption summit.
The Prime Minister will host an international anti-corruption summit on Thursday aimed at stepping up global action to combat corruption in all walks of life.
In a pooled video feed made available to the ITN broadcaster, Mr Cameron was shown talking with the Queen about the summit.
“We had a very successful cabinet meeting this morning, talking about our anti-corruption summit,” Mr Cameron said when the Queen approached.
“We have got the Nigerians – actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain.”

The Queen chatting to David Cameron. Photo: Getty Images


The Queen did not respond to Cameron’s comment but the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “But this particular president is actually not corrupt.”Mr Cameron went on: “Nigeria and Afghanistan – possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and Afghan President Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who are both planning to attend the summit, have acknowledged corruption in their countries and have pledged to clean it up.
Afghanistan is 166th, second-from-bottom, in campaign group Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index, an annual ranking of countries.
Only North Korea and Somalia, jointly ranked 167th, are perceived to be more corrupt. Nigeria is 136th in the index.
It was not clear whether Mr Cameron realised he was being filmed at the Buckingham Palace event.
Number 10 declined to comment directly on the premier’s conversations with the Queen but pointed out that the leaders of both countries had acknowledged the scale of the problem they faced.
Mr Ghani and Mr Buhari have written essays for a book accompanying the summit.
Mr Ghani, they said, acknowledges in his piece that Afghanistan is “one of the most corrupt countries on earth” and Mr Buhari that corruption became a “way of life” in his country under “supposedly accountable democratic governments”.

The Queen smiles during the reception. Photo: Getty Images

According to Reuters, a bystander joked to Mr Cameron: “They are coming at their own expense one assumes?”
“Everything has to be open,” the prime minister replied. “There are no sort of closed-door sessions. Everything has to be in front of the press. It’s going to be…It could be quite interesting.”
Mr Cameron had earlier said it was “very exciting” to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday with an “array” of political figures at a party at Buckingham Palace today.
Representatives from both Houses of Parliament and from across the political spectrum attended the event.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a noted republican who kicked off Labour’s In For Britain EU campaign on Tuesday, missed the engagement.
He was attending a family funeral instead, and a Buckingham Palace spokesman said he had “personally written” to the Queen explaining his absence.
Wearing a blue and white floral day dress, the Queen, who has broken records with her 64-year reign, met the political figures from both the Lords and the Commons in the Palace’s White Drawing Room.
Mr Cameron’s gaffe is not the first time he has been caught on film. In 2014, he was filmed telling New York’s mayor that the Queen had “purred down the line” after he had called her to say Scotland had rejected independence.
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