News 02nd Sep 2016

Why I’m joining the fight against corruption: an interview with Duncan Hames


Jameela Raymond

Senior Policy Officer

Jameela is TI-UK’s Senior Policy Officer, working closely on coordinating UK and international anti-corruption policies and collaborating with civil society organisations and policy experts around the world. Jameela was previously TI-UK’s Public Engagement Officer (2014-2016), and recently completed her MSc in Globalisation and Latin American Development at UCL. She is enthusiastic about issues of development, politics, race, gender, equality and diversity.

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Transparency International UK is delighted to announce the appointment of Duncan Hames as Director of Policy.  In this interview our Senior Policy Officer Jameela Raymond sat down with Duncan to get to know him better and asks why he’s joining the fight against corruption.


Jameela Raymond: Hi Duncan, welcome to TI-UK

Duncan Hames: Thank You

JR: What made you want to join the anti-corruption movement?

DH: Jameela, all around the world, people are asking why the way things are run doesn’t work for them.  And when power is abused for private gain we learn about that and it undermines our faith in those we elect are truly serving the public interest.

At the end of the day when private interests are put first that diverts resources which could be used on the healthcare and schooling that everyone needs to fulfil their potential.

Corruption really is corrosive to society and it’s high time we fought back.

JR: You’ve come from a background in politics, can you tell us how your experiences as an MP have influenced your thinking around corruption?

DH: Yes, in my time in parliament I got to learn really well how things work here in the UK, but I also travelled and met with policy makers in other countries. And what really struck me both here and abroad was the effect on people when they believe or come to know that talent and endeavour aren’t the keys to success that they should be and that corruption has distorted the playing field and so it really is important that at a time when Britain is seeking afresh its role in the world that we do so on politics that we can trust and institutions that are resilient to corruption so that everyone has an equal voice.

JR: On the topic of public trust there are some previously some media stories which suggested that you were being looked into as part of the Battle Bus allegations from the last general election. Can you tell us about that?

DH: Yes, that’s right, and it’s really important that the rules that govern our democracy are enforced and that complaints relating to them are investigated, in this case by the police.  I was obviously very surprised to learn that my campaign was being investigated.  Understandably given that the result of that investigation was that the police found no wrong doing, but you know those who we elect to public office need to accept a heightened level of public scrutiny because of the power that we entrust into them and so that’s absolutely right.

JR:  Here at TI-UK we recognise the ‘Revolving Door’ as a major issue.  Obviously that’s where public officials abuse their power to benefit from their past or future employer.  Some might argue that given your previous role in government that could apply here.  How true is that?

DH: Well the Revolving Door certainly is important and we at Transparency International UK would advise employers to have a policy about the Revolving Door and the appointments that they make.  In my case I left government nearly three years ago.  In the time not just the deputy Prime Minister but now the Prime Minister has changed too, so no one is paying for my contacts list.  In fact one of the first things I did after being appointed to this role was to surrender my parliamentary pass as a former member of parliament so there could be no question about privileged access to parliament for me.

This isn’t really about private gain, Transparency International UK is a charity. I am earning less here than as a member of parliament and certainly a lot less each day than I was able to earn in my previous work as a consultant.  But I am here because I believe in the cause of fighting corruption and really am committed to being a part of the collective endeavour here to fight back against it.

JR: What big issues do you see us working on in the future?

DH: Transparency International UK have done some really interesting work understanding the effects of corrupt money coming here to the UK, but it is a very complicated field and there is a lot more work that needs to be done.  Understanding, for an example, the consequences of that on things like housing, which matters to so many people here.  I feel we also have to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask some difficult questions about corruption in politics, about the way media is run, and looking at corruption in the criminal justice system for example.  So there’s lots of work to do and I am really looking forward to working with all of the people here on the Transparency International UK team, but also our partners in civil society and all of our supporters in the fight back against corruption.