Nadine Dorries is MP for Mid Bedfordshire.
During August I led the first British Parliamentary delegation of MPs to Equatorial Guinea which resulted in the report linked to in this article which we have dedicated to the EG children who washed in rivers.
The trip was undertaken with some trepidation. EG is not known for providing a friendly welcome to foreign visitors. Foreign press are not allowed entry visas and NGOs are not allowed access to the population. An attempted coup by Simon Mann in which Mark Thatcher was implicated resulted in the former spending a great deal of time in the notorious Black beach prison. As the report states, the President is notorious and has a reputation as a cannibal and for being allowed by God to commit murder, without punishment, as referenced in the report.
The MPs were joined by Iain Birrell a freelance journalist who acted ‘undercover’. Greg Wales, who owns Triarus, the organisation acting on behalf of the EG government, Adrian Yelland a lobbyist who co-ordinated the logistics and a theatre impresario, Giles who was there to appraise the cultural aspects of EG. The trip was undertaken with the knowledge and encouragement of the foreign office and since our return we have debriefed the Minister.
As reported by Ian Birrell, in last week’s Observer, the last foreign journalist to arrive in EG was allegedly immediately beaten and incarcerated in Black Beach prison.
The trip was difficult to arrange and co-ordinate. I took over leading the trip from Michael Ancram. Who for personal reasons had to stand down. It was impossible to get even one Labour MP to agree to come, despite many being asked. A Labour Peer was due to accompany the delegation but dropped out at the last moment.
All three of us undertook the trip with one objective in mind, to bring back an accurate impression and to do whatever we could to make any suggestion towards improving the daily lives of the small population.
To prepare for the tip, I held a meeting with the R.C.O.G (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist) as a result of various discussions, my objective on the trip to EG was to attempt to persuade the EG Health Minister, to meet with representatives from the R.C.O. G and discuss the details of a staff training programme the R.C.O.G. deploy in developing countries. Within minutes of meeting the Health Ministers, it was obvious this was never going to happen. Reading the report will provide more insight into why this is the case.
Steve Baker prepared a paper to discuss with any interested Ministers the benefits of democracy and free markets.
Caroline Noakes researched Education across Africa and undertook to appraise EG Education and led the questioning of the Education Minister.
The trip was paid for by the EG Government as I say in the report, MP’s were not paid and went in their own time.
The first trip was cancelled with almost no notice by the EG Authorities. We had no say over when we went, how we flew, or where we stayed. Nothing about the trips was negotiable. One of the most disconcerting aspects of the trip for me personally was the lack of control we had over anything from the moment we stepped on the plane.
It was very apparent that a spectacle had been laid on for our benefit which was at times quite bizarre. I am not sure that any MP will ever experience a trip like we did. We have described it as being a bit like being suspended somewhere between Groundhog Day and the Truman show.
It is also true, as Iain Birrell, reported, that there was a very unpleasant scene on the last evening, when I made it very apparent that I would not write a ‘whitewash’ report and that indeed; no one else would write a report following a very sensitive trip in our name and that we would undertake this duty ourselves.
We were all three, very happy indeed to land back on British soil.
I had hoped to wait until the report had received approval by the House of Commons Library before making the report public. I did issue it to the Press Association last week for reporting purposes. Once accepted in the library, we will also present to Amnesty International.
However, following the disappointing, inaccurate and ill informed media coverage, The report is here for all to see.
We three are all very proud to have undertaken this trip with the same objective in mind to take whatever minute step we could on behalf of the EG population towards letting the world know what life is like if you are born in EG and live in a kleptocracy.
Click here to read a PDF of the report.