Swinson slams government misconduct in British Overseas Territories

Jo Swinson MP has criticised the government over its failure to prevent the use of British overseas territories for tax avoidance and extraordinary rendition.

In a Parliamentary debate today, Jo Swinson highlighted the fact that seven of Britain’s overseas territories were named and shamed at the G20 for failing to use financial regulation which would prevent their use as tax havens. She pointed out that in some of these territories the UK is directly responsible for regulation, and described as “appalling” the government’s failure to act.

Jo Swinson also slammed the government for its failure to conduct a full investigation into how the British territory of Diego Garcia came to be used for the extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects who were tortured there at a CIA “black site”. She welcomed President Obama’s decision to close these sites, and described as “shameful” the British government’s refusal to allow indigenous Chagossians, who were expelled to make way for a military base, to return to the surrounding Chagos Islands.

Commenting, Jo Swinson said:

“The government’s approach towards British overseas territories seems to assume that the rest of us do not know or care what is going on there. The stories of our government’s misconduct in those parts of the world are shocking and damaging to our reputation abroad.

“At a time when the budget deficit is running higher than ever, the government’s failure to prevent people using our overseas territories to avoid paying taxes is almost masochistic.

“It is now widely accepted that the island of Diego Garcia has been used for torturing detainees, and there needs to be a full investigation to find out whether the government really did know this was happening. The shame of these events is compounded by the government having spent more than £2million of tax payers’ money preventing the island’s original inhabitants from returning home. There are no convincing reasons not to let the Chagos Islanders return, and the sooner the government stops obstructing them the better.”

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