Andrew Griffiths is the Member of Parliament for Burton and Uttoxeter. Follow Andrew on Twitter.
The tawdry video of an Argentinian sportsman training on the Falklands has understandably caused anger and outrage. This cheap political stunt was all the more offensive because the athlete was shown training on the steps of the First World War memorial.
Having visited the Falkland Islands and met servicemen and women and islanders, I appreciate the heightened importance of this and other war monuments. The islanders are free precisely because of the sacrifices made by the military, and to the local people these monuments demonstrate the gratitude they feel for the sacrifices made on their behalf.
The circumstances around the video and the fact that it was shot in secret do nothing to endear it. Sir Martin Sorrell has rightly condemned the video, which was produced by one of his companies, as “totally unacceptable”. Yet there is no doubt that the PR agency concerned would have been fully aware of the inflammatory nature of this film. The fact that they shot it in secret using an American film crew so as not to draw attention to themselves clearly demonstrates that they were fully aware of how controversial this would be.
I applaud Sir Martin for his strong words and quick condemnation. He is a magnificent businessman and his companies have flown the flag for the UK for many years. However, his business has profited as a result of this video. The Argentinian Government paid handsomely for the rights to screen it. Sir Martin’s strong words are not enough to make amends for the distress caused. I am not alone in thinking that any money the company earned should be donated to the Falklands Veterans’ charities in order to make amends.
I am sure that Sir Martin would agree that donating the many thousands of pounds to charities which look after service people who fought in the Falklands war would be a just use of this money. I hope Sir Martin will do the right thing and make amends for the mistake that his company made. In doing so, Sir Martin will go some way to restoring the damage done to his company’s reputation.