What was it about the short listed candidates for GCSB boss that was lacking? And what was it about Ian Fletcher that made him a more suitable candidate?
The cronyist element of Key’s role in his appointment is very concerning, as Eddie shows. This suggests that Fletcher was someone he knew and felt he could trust. But it is also necessary to look at why Key and Rennie considered Fletcher to be a more suitable person. Chris Trotter argues that a change under Key award from the low profile grey men, towards more high profile men which began with the appointment of Jerry Mateparae.
Fletcher’s background is also worth looking at. His profile on the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s website says he began his career in the NZ diplomatic service in 1989. Until 1991, he was in the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
He then worked in Trade Policy at the end of the GATT Uruguay Round, and continued this work during a secondment with European Commission, negotiating in the World Trade Organisation on Free Trade Agreements.
Mr. Fletcher returned to the UK in 1998 and, after working in DTI’s HR area, he joined the then Overseas Trade Services organization at the time the Wilson Review of Export Promotion was being finalized and British Trade International was being established, working on finance HR and corporate policy issues. In 2000, Mr. Fletcher undertook a secondment with the UN Administration in Kosovo as Head of the Customs Service and Department of Trade & Industry. He returned later that year to head DTI’s Directorate responsible for electricity and gas policy.
During 2002, he moved to the Cabinet Office as Principal Private Secretary to Sir Andrew Turnbull, the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service.
Since 2004, Ian had been Managing Director, International in UKTI, managing the UK’s foreign commercial service.
Mr. Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property in March 2007.
So, he has experience in patents and intellectual property issues as well as free trade. This is very relevant to the Dotcom case that was becoming particularly significant just before Fletcher was appointed. This is also strongly connected with the TPP negotiations currently in progress.
This was said about his role when he was appointed chief executive for the UK patents office:
“I am pleased to welcome Ian to the Patent Office at this exciting time. The recent Gowers Review of Intellectual Property redefines the Patent Office’s role both in the UK and abroad, seeing intellectual property rights as vital for British businesses. I look forward to working with him and the Office as it develops in the light of the planned name change to UK Intellectual Property Office on 2 April.”
Ian Fletcher said;
“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”
It’s interesting to look at what Sir Andrew Turnbull was up to when Fletcher was his private secretary (2002-2004). According to the Wikipedia page on Turnbull, there was the small issue of Turnbull and the Blair government’s role in Iraq:
Turnbull became involved in controversy when on 28 February 2004 he wrote a formal letter admonishing ex-minister Clare Short for making media statements alleging that British intelligence had intercepted communications from (amongst others) Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. Short made the confidential letter public, and in turn rebuked Turnbull for allegedly allowing the government decision-making machinery to crumble in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war. Short suggested that the government’s legal expert, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, had been “leant on” to provide advice that war would be legal. She argued that Turnbull had been responsible for what she alleged was inadequate Cabinet scrutiny of the legal advice, of the basis for the decision to go to war and the alternatives:
- “He allowed us to rush to war in Iraq without defence and overseas policy meeting, looking at all the military options and the diplomatic options and political options. (He) allowed the Joint Intelligence Committee to meet with Alastair Campbell chairing it.”
In March 2005, Lord Turnbull revealed that Lord Goldsmith’s opinion on the legality of the Iraq War was only one page long.
So, not only has Fletcher got an NZ background but he has been involved in overseas operations involving intellectual property, globalisation and business. He also was working for Turnbull in the period when he mislead the public about the UK’s decisions to go to war in Iraq. There’s also the issue of intercepting UN communications.