Britain's prime minister has been caught on film saying leaders of "fantastically corrupt" nations will attend a UK-hosted anti-graft summit. Cameron also remarked that Afghanistan and Nigeria may be the "most corrupt."
A television microphone recorded British Prime Minister David Cameron's unintended public remarks on Tuesday, in which he told Queen Elizabeth II, "We have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain."
Cameron specifically pointed out that leaders from Nigeria and Afghanistan will be there and said they are "possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world."
The remarks were made during an event at Buckingham Palace to the queen as well as Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The queen, who generally steers clear of making political comments, did not respond to Cameron's statement. But Welby, who has undertaken conflict resolution work in Nigeria, said: "But this particular president is actually not corrupt."
"He's really trying," Cameron agreed, and the queen noted to Welby: "He is trying, isn't he?"
Cameron's 10 Downing Street office said Cameron knew there were "multiple cameras in the room" when he made the remarks; however, conversations between the prime minister and the queen are usually confidential.
Leaders 'want things to change'
Transparency International, a global advocacy group, ranked Afghanistan 166th out of 168 countries in its 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, while Nigeria was 136th.
Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International, said: "There is no doubt that historically, Nigeria and Afghanistan have had very high levels of corruption, and that continues to this day.
"But the leaders of those countries have sent strong signals that they want things to change, and the London Anti-Corruption Summit creates an opportunity for all the countries present to sign up to a new era."
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani are both set to attend Thursday's UK-hosted anti-graft conference.
Cameron is bringing together politicians, officials, businesspeople and civil-society groups from around the globe to tackle topics such as bribery and money-laundering. The summit hopes to produce a global declaration against corruption, amidst the recent Panama Papers leak.
A 10 Downing Street spokeswoman said: "Both leaders have been invited to the summit because they are driving the fight against corruption in their countries. The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with them as they do so."
rs/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)