MP says Tories got huge pay-off in weapons deal

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The Independent Online
Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow, handed the papers, one said to come from US intelligence sources and the other said to be a British Aircraft Corporation internal memorandum, to Ministry of Defence officials in the Commons after he had raised the role of Mark Thatcher in securing the contract in a defence debate.

Roger Freeman, Minister of State for Defence, told MPs he would look at the documents but said it was a government to government transaction with no commissions paid: 'No agents and no middlemen were involved.'

Earlier this month, the Tory party conference was rocked by newspaper reports that Mark Thatcher received pounds 12m in commission as a middleman in the purchase by Saudia Arabia of military hardware. Negotiated in 1985 by Baroness Thatcher, the then Prime Minister, it was the largest deal struck between two nations.

John Major told MPs yesterday he had no doubt Lady Thatcher had acted with 'complete propriety'. But Mr Dalyell said 'many serious people' believed Mark Thatcher had amassed a fortune 'as a result of arms procurement and his connection or supposed or perceived connection with his mother'.

The documents the MP handed to officials included one which, he said, originated from US intelligence sources, came to light in a trial in the United States, and 'highlighted' Mr Thatcher's role.

It referred to a meeting with a member of the US embassy staff in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. 'Part of it is known. It is dollars 4bn mentioned in connection with Mrs Thatcher's son,' said Mr Dalyell. 'At the very least this has to be explained.

'Furthermore, the internal (BAC) document says, 'The same source also states there is a sizeable payment to the Conservative Party, a huge sum which is being administered by Wafic Said in conjunction with Mark T'.'

Wafic Said is a Syrian-born arms dealer who was one of the alleged middlemen in the arms deal and is said to have used Mark Thatcher as an intelligence source.

Mr Dalyell's claim takes the Al Yamamah affair a stage further by suggesting that not only did the son of the then prime minister benefit from the deal but so did her party.