Would-be Labour Party leader and former Foreign Secretary David Miliband diverted taxpayer-funded foreign aid to Sri Lanka in order to win votes for his party from the Tamil community in Britain, the latest Wikileaks US-cable scandal has revealed.
The shocking display of rampant corruption and abuse of power was revealed to a US embassy worker in London, who then relayed it in a cable sent to the American state department for evaluation.
In the cable, released by Wikileaks, Tim Waite, a Foreign Office team leader on Sri Lanka, was quoted as explaining why Mr Miliband appeared to be so interested in events in Sri Lanka.
“Waite said that much of (the government) and ministerial attention to Sri Lanka is due to the ‘very vocal’ Tamil diaspora in the UK, numbering over 300,000, who have been protesting in front of parliament since 6 April,” Richard Mills, a political officer at the US Embassy in London, wrote in the cable.
“He said that with UK elections on the horizon and many Tamils living in Labour constituencies with slim majorities, the government is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka, with Miliband recently remarking to Waite that he was spending 60 per cent of his time at the moment on Sri Lanka.”
* According to the Department for International Development, Sri Lanka is a “middle income country” and the department’s bilateral “programme in the country closed in 2006 when Sri Lanka graduated to middle income status.”
“However, DFID still contributes to Sri Lanka through the Conflict Prevention Fund which totalled £2 million in 2010/11.”
This is not the full picture, as the DFID website freely admitted: “The end of the [Tamil Tiger] conflict in May 2009 created almost 280,00 internally displaced people (IDPs). The majority of these remained detained in camps in the north of Sri Lanka until October 2009 when the Government started a ‘crash’ returns programme to return them to their homes.
“In response to needs on the ground, DFID has committed £13.5 million of humanitarian funding to Sri Lanka since September 2008.”