Guns to Africa: Who's who in the scandal that is rocking the Foreign Office

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Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer

Former Scots Guard officer who served in the Gulf and in Bosnia, where he was spokesman for the British Army, Spicer is chief executive of Sandline International, the "military consultant" that allegedly colluded with British diplomats to restore Sierra Leone's ousted government. Nicknamed Tumbledown Tim during the Falklands, he was arrested on Bougainville last year during an abortive mission to crush rebels for the Papua New Guinea government.

Rakesh Saxena

An Indian-born Thai banker, Saxena initially brokered the deal between Sandline and Kabbah, and financed the counter-coup operation with pounds 1m. Saxena, who is on bail in Canada for an alleged pounds 55m fraud in Thailand, wanted to protect his diamond mining interests in Sierra Leone which were threatened by the political instability. He agreed to underwrite two shipments of arms, and to pay for Sandline's services.

Peter Penfold

The British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, Penfold is said to be a "diplomat of the old school". A former governor of the British Virgin Islands, he is a familiar sight in Freetown, in his white linen suit and battered Bentley. Penfold became close friends with President Ahmad Kabbah in Conakry and is viewed as a national hero in Sierra Leone because of his part in restoring Kabbah's government. Clarence Roy-Macaulay, a Freetown journalist, said recently: "Mr Penfold is a darling."

Major Johnny Paul Koroma

Koroma led the rebels involved in the bloody coup that ousted Kabbah. Sandhurst graduate turned mutinous army officer, Koroma proved a ruthless dictator whose regime is believed responsible for hundreds of deaths during his ten months in power. He ignored a warning by Britain before the counter-coup last March to "get out while the possibility of doing so peacefully remains".

Tony Lloyd

Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs. Mild-mannered Lloyd denies that he was the political lynchpin in the deal to restore Kabbah to power and that he approved the counter-coup operation. He probably regrets his over-hasty dismissal of newspaper reports of links between Penfold and the mercenaries as "ill informed and scurrilous". A former lecturer, Lloyd gave evidence about the affair to a Commons select committee which he now admits was "mistaken".

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah

Elected president in multi-party elections in 1996, Kabbah was ousted in a coup led by Johnny Paul Koroma in May 1997. He spent his exile in Conakry, capital of neighbouring Guinea, where the British diplomatic mission led by Peter Penfold had also transferred. One source said he spent his time in exile "wringing his hands and not taking action", waiting for others to return him to power.

The mandarins

Ann Grant, head of the Africa (Equatorial) desk at the Foreign Office, former director of communications at Oxfam.

Foreign Office officials named by Sandline as taking part in meetings:

Craig Murray, deputy head of the Africa (Equatorial) desk.

John Everard, Murray's predecessor in the job.

Linda St Cook, desk officer for Sierra Leone.

Tim Andrews, official with responsibility for Sierra Leone, Gambia and Liberia.