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MILITARY LORDS IN SLEAZE PROBE; EXCLUSIVE Peers failed to declare links to defence companies.

Byline: By JAMES LYONS, Political Correspondent

THREE retired military chiefs are being probed by a sleaze watchdog after the Mirror revealed they didn't declare their work for defence firms.

Admiral Lord Boyce, Field Marshal Lord Inge and General Lord Guthrie used a House of Lords debate to demand more spending on the forces.

But they broke rules by not declaring positions with firms that have made fortunes from military contracts and Iraq.

The trio are being investigated by a committee that polices Lords' interests after a complaint from Falkirk Labour MP and former Black Watch major Eric Joyce.

He said: "I am glad to see this matter is being treated with the seriousness that it deserves. If I had done this in the Commons I would have had to apologise. The same should apply to peers." Pressure group Campaign Against Arms Trade welcomed the probe. CAAT's Ian Pritchard said: "It's disturbing that people who have such blatant conflicts of interests are in influential political positions at all."

Brendan Keith, Lords Registrar of Members' Interests, revealed it is the first time the committee has received a complaint since it was formed in 2001.

Members will meet this week to decide whether to hold a full-scale inquiry. The House of Lords has no powers to suspend or fine peers. But Mr Keith said: "Naming and shaming is appropriate."

Lord Boyce is a non-executive director of VT group which is involved in the building of two super-carriers for Britain. He earned pounds 30,000 for his services.

US arms giant Colt Defense has Lord Guthrie as a director.

The firm supplies weapons. Lord Inge is chairman of security group Aegis, which has profited from work in Iraq.

james.lyons@mirror.co.uk

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RULES: Boyce, Inge and Guthrie
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2008
Words:296
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