Grecian seeking compensation over his arms-to-Iraq ordeal

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The Independent Online
Paul Grecian, the businessman who successfully fought attempts by the US to extradite him on arms-to-Iraq charges, is planning to bring claims for compensation against Customs and Excise and the American authorities.

Immediately upon his return to Britain from South Africa, where he has spent five months fighting attempts by the US to extradite him, Mr Grecian said he would now be turning his attention to the Sir Richard Scott's arms-to-Iraq report and its comments about his case.

Along with two colleagues from his former high-tech engineering firm, Ordtech, Mr Grecian was convicted at Reading Crown Court in 1992 of supplying a fuse assembly line to Iraq.

The men subsequently appealed and their convictions were quashed in December last year because the Government had withheld vital defence evidence from their trial.

As soon as he won the appeal, Mr Grecian flew to Johnannesburg with his South African fiancee, only to be arrested to face similar charges brought in the US. Last week, the US charges were thrown out by a South African court and described as "unacceptable".

Yesterday, looking tired and drawn, Mr Grecian said that he had expected to be in jail for the remainder of the year resisting extradition.

Now that he was free, he would be studying the Scott report - which was highly critical of his original prosecution brought by Customs and Excise.

Mr Grecian accused the US and South African authorities of "not having acted with great faith". Before leaving for South Africa, he was assured it was safe for him to travel. The US prosecution, he claimed, had been motivated by spite.

Mr Grecian paid tribute to his father, John, and Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP, who campaigned tirelessly on his behalf. Mrs Clwyd forced an adjournment debate in the Commons on his case and pressed the Foreign Office, South African High Commission and US Embassy in London on the issue. Her efforts, said Mr Grecian's father, were in stark contrast to his son's local MP, the Conservative John Redwood, who had not shown much interest.

Joining him at a Westminster press conference, Mrs Clwyd said that it was time for the Government "to make amends for the many years that Paul Grecian has lost and been branded a criminal in a situation involving a government cover-up".

Mr Grecian said he now hoped to get back on his feet commercially and start up in business again.