2013 Bilderberg Conference

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The 2013 Bilderberg Conference took place June 6–9, 2013, at The Grove hotel in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. It was the first Bilderberg Group conference to be held in the United Kingdom since the 1998 meeting in Turnberry, Scotland.[1]

The Grove Hotel

The Daily Telegraph likened the annual conference to "a political version of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which draws members of high society to discuss business and the economy."[1] A British Member of Parliament and former Bilderberg attendee quoted by the Independent on Sunday also likened the annual conference to the World Economic Forum, and said it was "...not that exciting, in fact it's a bit run of the mill".[2]

Around 140 participants are expected to participate in the meetings annually.[3][4] Attendance to the event is by invitation only.[1] No delegates pay to attend the conferences, and no delegates attend by conference phone or satellite.[5] The conference programme never includes entertainment or performances.[5]

The confidential nature of Bilderberg led to criticism of the group's lack of transparency and accountability, along with concerns about potential lobbying.[6][7] Outside the 2013 meeting, Labour MP Michael Meacher said, "If there is any conference which required transparency, which required democratic accountability, it is the Bilderberg conference because this is really where the top brass of Western finance capitalism meet ... including government ministers."[8] Conservative MP Douglas Carswell was also concerned about the privacy of the meetings, by saying "...you would have thought the least our ruling elite could do is discuss these issues in public."[9]

There has also been speculation from conspiracy theorists about the purpose of the meetings.[2] The secretive approach to staging the conferences has led to the younger generation of Bilderberg attendees being uncomfortable with the policy of total media exclusion, as reported by the Independent on Sunday. A previous attendee told the Independent that he sympathised with "those who tell us the confidentiality policy only encourages the conspiracy theorists. It does."[2]

Of the format and outcome of the conference, the Bilderberg website said, "There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued."[10]

A Bilderberg Fringe Festival was held near the conference. The festival featured speakers, comedy, music, workshops, arts and entertainment.[11]

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, attended the conference on 7 June.[9] Cameron attended in a private capacity and was not accompanied by civil servants, even though it is customary for the Prime Minister to be accompanied by civil servants when he meets business leaders.[9]

Press coverage[edit]

Journalists were banned from attending the event, with the exception of Lilli Gruber,[3] although a press office was provided by the Bilderberg Group. The group is represented by a German corporate communications firm.[5]

The meeting was well covered by the British media, with frequent Bilderberg writer Charlie Skelton noting the presence of Reuters, the Associated Press, Channel 4 News, The Times and the Press Association.[5][1][12]


A list of key topics for discussion at the 2013 Bilderberg conference was published on the Bilderberg website shortly before the meeting.[10] Topics for discussion included:[10]

  • "Can the U.S. and Europe grow faster and create jobs?"
  • "Jobs, entitlement and debt"
  • "How big data is changing almost everything"
  • "Nationalism and populism"
  • "U.S. foreign policy"
  • "Africa's challenges"
  • "Cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats"
  • "Major trends in medical research"
  • "Online education: promise and impacts"
  • "Politics of the European Union"
  • "Developments in the Middle East"

Delegates (alphabetical)[edit]

For the first time, a list of expected delegates was published by the Bilderberg Group.


A private security company provided security at the hotel; in addition, the Bilderberg Group agreed to contribute toward the policing costs of the event.[1] The local police force, Hertfordshire Police, were in talks with the Home Office about a grant for potential "unexpected or exceptional costs". The grant is provided if the costs threaten the "stability of their policing budget".[1] A combined force of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Cambridge constabularies prepared for the conference, with the assistance of specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police. Five rugby pitches belonging to the Fullerians RFC were hired by police for the duration of the event.[2] The police operation for the Bilderberg conference was called Operation Discuss, and had been running for eighteen months prior to the start of the conference.[14] The cost of policing was revealed after the conference to have been in the region of £1.3 million, with £500,000 having been offered to the police by the Bilderberg Group.[15]

The mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill, said that she had concerns that the conference "does attract people who can and do cause violence and disturbance" but was confident that the police will "be able to minimise that and give them their right to protest".[1] She was additionally "ambivalent about whether this is a good thing. It's potentially a positive thing as long as things don't kick off."[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rowena Mason (30 May 2013). "British taxpayers to pay 'millions' towards secretive Bilderberg meeting security". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d James Cusick (21 May 2013). "Watch out Watford: Here comes the secretive Bilderberg Group". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Current list of Participants". Bilderberg Group. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  4. ^ Matthew Holehouse (3 June 2013). "Osborne, Clarke and Balls to attend Bilderberg Group meeting". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  5. ^ a b c d Charlie Skelton (6 June 2013). "Bilderberg 2013: friendly policemen, a press zone and the One Show". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  6. ^ Meacher, Michael; Skelton, Charlie (11 June 2013). "Bilderberg 2013: The sun sets on Watford". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  7. ^ "My brush with Bilderberg". New Statesman. 10 June 2013. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Bilderberg Conference Watford 'Too Secret'". Sky News. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Nicholas Watt (7 June 2013). "Bilderberg group summit: Cameron attendance at 'cliche fest' damned". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Bilderberg Meetings". The Bilderberg Group. Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  11. ^ "The Bilderberg Fringe Festival - About". The Bilderberg Fringe Festival. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  12. ^ Matthew Norman (31 May 2013). "The Bilderberg Group: Fiendish plots are a-hatching in Watford". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  13. ^ Matthew Holehouse (3 June 2013). "Bilderberg Group 2013 guest list and agenda". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  14. ^ Charlie Skelton (5 June 2013). "Bilderberg 2013: welcome to 1984". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Bilderberg conference: £1.3m spent on police costs". BBC News Online. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.

External links[edit]