Terming corruption a ‘major challenge’ facing Britain, prominent industrialist Swraj Paul on Monday came down heavily on the ‘cosy and sleazy’ practices of institutions that are supposed to act fairly and treat equally in society.
Swraj, who is chairman of the Caparo Group, stepped down as the chancellor of the University of Westminster, had a ‘special word’ for graduating students during his last address at the graduation ceremony here.
“To my mind, the major challenge facing Britain today is the social disease of corruption that has plagued this country possibly for decades. Only now is it being exposed. When the truth emerges – as I hope it will – I believe it will have a seismic effect on British society," he said.
Paul added: “Cozy and sleazy establishment practices have for too long exerted an undue and malign influence on the very institutions that are expected to protect us; institutions that are supposed to see that we are all treated equally and fairly. In many instances the watchdogs of society have become the predators, or allowed predators a free hand”.
Activities such as those of financial institutions and their practices, or the more recently uncovered implications that paedophilia rings had ‘shamefully’ operated for years at high levels, diminished British society and its system of government, Paul said.
“British financial institutions were once perceived as world leaders in integrity. Now they are seen as world leaders in duplicity.
While they are all still clamouring for their huge salaries and bonuses, not one person in the financial world has even apologised to the millions of people who were badly affected by the banking crisis six years ago”, he added.
A member of the House of Lords, Paul had strong words for parliamentarians too.
“Our Parliamentarians and those who hold public office are the professed defenders of our morality. Yet it seems that immorality has been condoned at the highest levels. Public trust in the pillars of our society has steadily eroded. A nation which tolerates this kind of malfeasance is a nation destined for decline," he said.