By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron was caught on camera telling Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday that leaders of some “fantastically corrupt” countries, including Nigeria and Afghanistan, were due to attend his anti-corruption summit.
Cameron will host an international anti-corruption summit on Thursday 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, 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,” 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.”
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, both of whom are due to attend the summit, acknowledge corruption in their countries and have pledged to clean it up.
Afghanistan is at number 166, 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 at number 167, are perceived to be more corrupt. Nigeria is at number 136 in the index.
It was not clear whether Cameron realised he was being filmed and recorded at the event at Buckingham Palace.
A bystander then joked to laughter: “They are coming at their own expense one assumes?”
“Everything has to be open,” Cameron said. “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.”
When asked about the comments, Downing Street did not immediately respond.