by Sian Boyle, Daily Mail:
- Secret conference of the global liberal elite held in luxury hotel on police lockdown for three days
- Elusive annual ‘Bilderberg Conference’ is always protected by anti-terror police, military and a no-fly zone
- Attended by figureheads of politics, business, banking, academia, royalty, telecoms, technology
- For the first time in its 66-year history a journalist penetrated security to go undercover at the hotel
- 2018 agenda items included Populism, where populist political parties threaten to withdraw from EU
- Conspiracy theories have surrounded Bilderberg for years, such as claims that it selects world leaders to impose a ‘New World Order’
On the first day of my new job as a hotel waitress — before I have a chance to polish a glass or proffer a canapé — I’m primed in detail about how to enter the building. Not via the front foyer, but circuitously through a ‘secret staff entrance’.
It is imperative I memorise the route, I’m told by the briskly efficient restaurant manager, who steers me through it, via an obscure door by a KFC outlet in a low-rent shopping mall.
We then travel up two floors in a shabby service lift, past a phalanx of security men, through an underground delivery area, past bins, a staff canteen and along a harshly lit subterranean corridor that smells of urine.
Another staff lift disgorges us into the hotel kitchen, through two swing doors and finally into the light and bustle of its restaurant and gleaming lobby.
It is vital that I take this labyrinthine route in and out of the hotel for the next five days, I’m told, as there is a ‘top secret event’ taking place. ‘The whole hotel is closed to the public,’ says my boss. ‘It’s very important you remember you cannot go in and out of the main entrance. You must use the secret one.’
Although I feign meek subservience, I know very well why levels of security have been ramped up to such histrionic levels at this unassuming four-star hotel in northern Italy, because I am here undercover. My mission is to covertly observe the most secretive gathering of the influential and powerful in the world, known as the Bilderberg Group.
This cabal of the global, largely liberal, elite — with strong ties to the EU — meets every year amid a cloak of secrecy.
At this year’s gathering? With so-called ‘populism’ high on its agenda, passionate Remainers, including former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and former Chancellor George Osborne, all took time out of their busy schedules to attend.
Over drinks receptions and lavish meals, they rubbed shoulders with former president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, three serving EU prime ministers and a current European Commissioner in charge of the bloc’s budget.
Last weekend, the Mail became the first newspaper in the 64-year history of Bilderberg to penetrate its formidable security, gaining insight into the extreme paranoia of this most elusive of clubs.
I watched as military police guarded the hotel perimeter and sniffer dogs checked for bombs outside. Last week, one freelance journalist, who posted footage online of the empty garden marquee where the Bilderberg banquet was due to be held, reported that Italian police stormed his hotel room at 4.30am breaking down his door and ‘pointing a gun’ at him.
So clandestine are the Bilderberg gatherings that no minutes are taken, no press conferences given and no reports published.
The conference operates under ‘Chatham House Rules’, which means participants can use and report information exchanged there, but not disclose the source. But with no record of what goes on — Bilderberg was held on exactly the same weekends as G7 and NATO defence meetings, allowing opportunities for conference calls — critics have said it should be much more transparent. Many argue that the event exists solely to serve as a networking and lobbying opportunity for its attendees.
The Bilderberg Group — so called because it first met in 1954 at the Hotel Bilderberg in the Netherlands — is made up of at least 120 self-proclaimed ‘leading citizens’ of Europe and the U.S., who meet annually to discuss ‘issues of common interest’.
Every summer, figureheads from politics, business, academia, finance and defence lock themselves away in a closely guarded hotel for three days to discuss topics of vital global significance about which the rest of us can only speculate.