Arms contractor boasts on busy train of signing secret defence deal

An executive at a British engineering firm has inadvertently exposed details of a deal to sell armoured vehicles to the Middle East in a transaction he claimed was backed by the Foreign Secretary.

John Lashmar, head of business development at Universal Engineering, was overheard on a busy train claiming that he was on the verge of securing a sale to Abu Dhabi. He told his travelling companion that William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and Gerald Howarth, the Minister for International Security Strategy, supported the deal and that Mr Hague was primed to make a call at the appropriate time.

In an extraordinary breach of confidentiality, Mr Lashmar also boasted that a colleague called Mike could not have pulled off the deal "if he had a crown on his head, a dildo up his arse and was on Viagra and cocaine". The chief executive of Universal Engineering, Mike Hayle, said Mr Lashmar had broken confidentiality and that he would take "appropriate action" against his employee. He declined to say whether Mr Lashmar would be sacked. Mr Hayle said he did not believe Mr Hague was lined up to support a deal and insisted that any sale to Abu Dhabi was some way off. He said Universal Engineering had been asked to send details to Abu Dhabi with a view to selling its Ranger armoured vehicle to the largest of the United Arab Emirates. Mr Lashmar compounded his indiscretion by visibly sending business emails on his mobile phone on the train from London to Brighton. He made the journey on 16 September at the end of a week-long arms fair in London.