Sir Mark Lyall Grant was born with so many silver spoons in his mouth it is a miracle he didn’t choke. The National Security Adviser is, surprise surprise, an Old Etonian. He is also one of the nastiest people I have ever met.
In 1999 within the FCO he tried to remove me from my position as Deputy High Commissioner in Accra because, in a speech at an anti-corruption conference, I had stated that British firms too were sometimes involved in corruption. My speech had in fact been cleared in advance by DFID, and I survived. But Lyall Grant was dismissive of my argument that it was intellectually bankrupt to attend anti-corruption conferences and pretend corruption was just something foreigners did. In a very frosty interview, he told me my job was to promote British interests, not promote the truth.
I survived Lyall Grant’s attack only by appealing to the Head of the Diplomatic Service, John (now Lord) Kerr, in a minute in which I complained directly of Grant’s unpleasantly aristocratic attitude towards me, and used Hazlitt’s words about Byron applied to Lyall Grant “This spoil’d child of fortune…”. The entire episode was published in detail in my memoir “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo.”
Lyall Grant is now National Security Adviser and made responsible by Cameron for persuading Labour MPs to bomb Syria. A disagreement has arisen tonight over whether he admitted or not that a great many of the “70,000” are “extreme Islamists”.
But one thing that should be very well understood, is that I can personally testify that Mark Lyall Grant has no respect for or attachment to the truth. He directly told me that furthering the British interest is more important than truth. In that case, he was taking the interest of corrupt British companies – especially BAE – as being identical with the national interest.
In the current case, I have no doubt he will be conflating the interest of his fellow old Etonians in government and again of the arms industry with the national interest. I can guarantee nothing will pass his lips undistorted to suit that agenda.
That a truly obnoxious man like Mark Lyall Grant is such a senior official is the most complete proof you could have of the rottenness of the United Kingdom.