The British PM was caught on camera telling the Queen on Tuesday, May 1o that some “fantastically corrupt” leaders including Nigeria and Afghanistan, were due to attend his anti-corruption summit.
The Prime Minister will host an international anti-corruption summit on Thursday, May 12 aimed at stepping up global action to combat corruption in all walks of life.
In a pooled video feed made available to the ITN broadcaster, Mr Cameron was shown talking with the Queen about the summit.
“We had a very successful cabinet meeting this morning, talking about our anti-corruption summit,” Mr Cameron said when the Queen approached.
“We have got the Nigerians – actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain.”
Mr Cameron went on: “Nigeria and Afghanistan – possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.”
The Queen did not respond to Cameron’s comment but the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “But this particular president is actually not corrupt.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and Afghan President Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who are both planning to attend the summit, have acknowledged corruption in their countries and have pledged to clean it up.
Afghanistan is 166th, second-from-bottom, in campaign group Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index, an annual ranking of countries.
Only North Korea and Somalia, jointly ranked 167th, are perceived to be more corrupt. Nigeria is 136th in the index.
It was not clear whether Mr Cameron realised he was being filmed at the Buckingham Palace event.
Number 10 declined to comment directly on the premier’s conversations with the Queen but pointed out that the leaders of both countries had acknowledged the scale of the problem they faced.
Mr Ghani and Mr Buhari have written essays for a book accompanying the summit.
Mr Ghani, they said, acknowledges in his piece that Afghanistan is “one of the most corrupt countries on earth” and Mr Buhari that corruption became a “way of life” in his country under “supposedly accountable democratic governments”.
According to Reuters, a bystander joked to Mr Cameron: “They are coming at their own expense one assumes?”
“Everything has to be open,” the prime minister replied. “There are no sort of closed-door sessions. Everything has to be in front of the press. It’s going to be…It could be quite interesting.”
Mr Cameron had earlier said it was “very exciting” to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday with an “array” of political figures at a party at Buckingham Palace today.
Representatives from both Houses of Parliament and from across the political spectrum attended the event.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a noted republican who kicked off Labour’s In For Britain EU campaign on Tuesday, missed the engagement.
He was attending a family funeral instead, and a Buckingham Palace spokesman said he had “personally written” to the Queen explaining his absence.
Wearing a blue and white floral day dress, the Queen, who has broken records with her 64-year reign, met the political figures from both the Lords and the Commons in the Palace’s White Drawing Room.
Mr Cameron’s gaffe is not the first time he has been caught on film. In 2014, he was filmed telling New York’s mayor that the Queen had “purred down the line” after he had called her to say Scotland had rejected independence.
Nigeria has been made a laughing stock in Britain of late, on Sunday, May 8, Daily Mail UK made a mockery of President Buhari’s integrity, questioning as it were, the moral right of the Nigerian leader to fight corruption.
“Self-proclaimed ‘People’s President’ Muhammadu Buhari began a war on corruption after taking power last year, but critics allege it is a political witch-hunt.
“The Government is giving nearly £250million in the coming year to oil-rich Nigeria, whose president sends his daughter Hanan to a N7.5 million-a-year English school,” Daily Mail wrote.
The Daily Mail went to analyze how in April the opposition PDP party unearthed a ticket stub showing Hanan, 16, had flown first-class from London to Nigeria, despite her father’s ban on officials using premium travel. And a Nigerian newspaper claimed Mr Buhari has spent £150,000 on educating his daughter Zahra, a Surrey University student.
According to the Daily Mail, President Buhari is reported to have failed to give a full account of his worth, but even his partial admission included more than £1million in the bank, five houses and two plots of land.
In the light of these detracting statements, it becomes ironical to know that only a few weeks back, the United Kingdom had praised Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari over his strong determination to end corruption in the country.
According to NAN, this was made known by Nick Hurd, the UK minister for international development, on Sunday, April 17, in Abuja.
The UK official expressed confidence that the ongoing anti-graft war was a crucial move for Nigeria to prosper.
“We have been very active in supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign against corruption in Nigeria and we think it is fundamental to transform the future of the country. We fully support priorities that the president has given to tackling corruption in Nigeria.
“We feel that corruption is absolutely the right priority and we want to support him in that… We think corruption holds Nigeria back and for every pound that is taken out of the public system through corruption, is a pound that could be spent educating children.
“It is a pound that could be spent educating girls and developing the health system that the country can be proud of.
“That is the kind of attitude that we would like to encourage and, therefore, we support the President in that.”
Hurd added that the UK Prime Minister David Cameron would convene an anti-corruption summit in London in May and invited Nigerian officials to the event.