Scandal hangs over Cameron's India visit

2013-02-18 11:01
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mumbai - British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in India's financial hub Mumbai on Monday on a three-day trade-focused visit clouded by a corruption scandal over British-made helicopters sold to New Delhi.

Cameron's trip comes amid a raging scandal over the procurement of 12 helicopters for use by VIPs in 2010, which were bought for $748m from Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

After an investigation in Italy suggested kickbacks were paid via middlemen to secure the deal, India has taken steps to cancel the contract and has started its own police investigation.

The British prime minister is likely to face further questions about the contract - the helicopters are being manufactured in southwest Britain - with the Indian government keen to be seen to be acting tough on a new graft scandal.

"We did ask [Britain] in November and they said that since the Italians are investigating let us await the outcome [of that probe]," Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

Indian investigators will travel to Italy as early as this week as part of an inquiry into the matter, a spokesperson for the Delhi-based Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Sunday.

Doubling trade

Cameron, who is accompanied by a large business delegation, will be far keener to address new areas for trade and investment between Britain and its former colony, whose economy has slowed sharply but still offers vast potential.

The British leader has targeted a doubling of trade with India from $17.8bn in 2010 to $36bn by the time he faces re-election in 2015.

"I'm in no doubt that India is going to one of the great success stories of this century," he told the Hindustan Times in an interview published on Monday. "And I want Britain to be one of your partners as you grow."

After business meetings in Mumbai on Monday, he will fly to New Delhi for face-to-face talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday.

On his first trip to the country in 2010 after his election, Cameron pressed the case for the part-British Eurofighter jet, which was competing to win a $12bn contract for 126 aircraft.

Last January, India selected a rival French plane, the Rafale made by Dassault Aviation, but with the deal still not finalised Cameron is likely to remind the Indian government of the Eurofighter's merits.

Warning to Pakistan

Among his business delegation, executives from the Tesco supermarket chain are eyeing the retail sector following recent reforms to open up the market, as are bosses from the banking and insurance world.

The delegation also includes heads of six British universities aiming to attract students to Britain and seek partnerships in India's vast higher education market.

On his last trip to India in 2010, Cameron issued an unexpectedly blunt warning to India's arch-rival Pakistan about promoting "the export of terror", which played well in New Delhi but provoked a furious response in Islamabad.

Pakistan's ambassador to Britain accused Cameron of "damaging the prospects of regional peace".

Cameron also stressed during the trip that he had come to India "in a spirit of humility" in a deliberate attempt to distance himself from previous visiting British politicians who have upset their hosts.

In 2009, then British foreign minister David Miliband ignited a diplomatic furore when he linked the 2008 Mumbai attacks to the lack of a solution in divided Kashmir.


India resents any foreign involvement in the Himalayan region, which it sees as a bilateral issue between it and Pakistan.

As well as trade, Cameron will also use the trip to correct any misunderstandings about his government's drive to slash immigration numbers amid concerns that young Indians could be deterred from applying to study in Britain.

"There is no limit on the number of students who can come from India to study at British universities," he told the Hindustan Times.

Read more on:    david cameron  |  manmohan singh  |  india  |  uk

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

/Oscar Pistorius

6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!


For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may take extra pride in your work today. You have a need to shine and be respected so you may put the extra effort and more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.