26 May 05. A triumphant article by Tom Baldwin in the Times today triumphantly announced that Uzbek massacre soldiers had used Land Rovers in defiance of arms control promise. He went on to say that this disclosure threatens to embarrass Government ahead of arms treaty at G8 summit in June. The article continued that photographic evidence examined by The Times shows Uzbek soldiers crouching for cover alongside armoured Land Rover Defenders as they pointed guns at unarmed demonstrators in Andijan on May 13 — when up to 500 men, women and children were shot dead. The Editor pointed out to the Times Newsdesk that the picture actually showed a normal Land Rover Defender with no armour. Having looked at the picture he agreed!
Since the Land Rover was conceived by the Wilkes brothers in 1948 it has produced 3,260,000 in many different variants and has been exported to every country in the world and used by 48 armies. What Mr Baldwin forgot to point out that the value of these exports has sustained the workforce and their families at Solihull since 1948 and has spawned the Land Rover range of Defender, Discovery, Freelander and Range Rover. This has created one of the top best known brands in the world and is coveted by rivals such as Mercedes-Ben, Toyota and Jeep. All this article will do is attempt to damage this brand and the jobs at Solihull. Mr Baldwin failed to pint out that the majority of terrorist vehicles filemd in the Iraq conflict are Japanese 4x4s armed with the ubiquitous .5 machine gun, used to kill British and American troops. The current fleet of Land Rovers in Iraq has had to be up-armoured to meet these threats.
Mark Foster, the Land Rover Press Spokesman told BATTLESPACE that, “The vehicle shown in the photograph is one of 20 Defender’s supplied to the joint Turkish/Uzbeck o-operative Training Force; the insignia shown on the side is clearly Turkish/Uzbeck. Ottakar entered into a commercial agreement to produce Land Rovers in Turkey on a commercial basis, there were no subsidies from the incumbent Conservative Government. To our knowledge no armoured Land Rover’s have been supplied. From our own point of view the Defender is not classed as a military vehicle in its basic form but for all exports we need a licence and an End-User Certificate for these and any armoured range Rovers, thus our military activities are strictly governed.”
The origin of this story may revolve around the mistaken identity of a number of Land Rovers being converted by Penman Engineering for the Iraqi Police (See Penman supplies Iraq). The insignia on the side is familiar with a Turkish insignia when it is in fact, Iraqi. The U.K. Government has given 72 FORMER Land Rover Armoured patrol vehicles to the Iraqi Police Force, refurbished by Penman Engineering. Penman has made the transition to left hand drive, provided refurbished armour and protection and an air-conditioned cab in just three months. The initial delivery of 17 vehicles was airlifted to Basra at the beginning of the month – the remaining 55 vehicles will follow over the next three months.
What Mr Baldwin also failed to point out is the number of Land Rover variants built around the world that save thousands of lives in the from of ambulances, fir engines, medevac vehicles, mountain rescue and support vehicles for Aid Agencies throughout the world. Of course this article may be directed at a Government embarrassment story but it has damaged industry, again, in the process.
A worrying disease is affecting the United Kingdom, the destruction of industries that sustain the wealth of this country. Whether they be by-pass, animal experiment, arms, fox hunting or Civil Right protestors they are able to ply their trade by the fact that workers such as those at Solihull have produced the best 4×4 load carrying cross-country vehicle in the world, of which a very few have been converted to armoured use, the majority to protect our troops in Northern Ireland. Whilst some of