3 Jun 2013

Fiji critical of Britain after Mercer sting

2:52 pm on 3 June 2013

The Fiji government has criticised the British government and media for patronising attitudes towards Fiji, after a British media sting which resulted in the resignation of MP Patrick Mercer as government whip.

A reporter posed as a lobbyist for Fiji business interests to see if the MP could be hired for cash.

Sally Round reports.

"British media reports say an undercover reporter posing as a lobbyist was pretending to act on behalf of a bogus client, Friends of Fiji, to build support for Fiji's readmission to the Commonwealth. The Conservative Party MP was filmed by the BBC, allegedly agreeing to the deal for a fee of about 3000 US dollars a month. ' I, I do not charge a great deal of money for these things. I would normally come out at five hundred pounds per half day, to a thousand pounds a day.' Patrick Mercer says the fee was for work outside parliament but records show he had earlier submitted questions and a motion on Fiji in the British parliament. Suva is angry at the way it has been portrayed and says the British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire showed astonishing ignorance over Fiji in his answers in parliament. As questions are raised about why Fiji was used as the bait in the sting, the Fiji regime says British government and media's uninformed attitudes are still coloured by patronising attitudes of the past. The Fiji regime took the opportunity to boast of its progress towards elections and its record on fighting corruption, saying it had the toughest anti-corruption record in the Pacific."