MPs to investigate Aitken arms company

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The Independent Online
MPs are set to examine whether BMARC, a company which counted Jonathan Aitken among its directors, sent arms to Singapore that subsequently went to Iran in defiance of published government guidelines and a United Nations arms embargo, writes Chris Blackhurst.

The cross-party Commons Trade and Industry Committee received assurances from Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, at a private meeting yesterday that his department would co-operate with their inquiry. Mr Heseltine's agreement and the committee's inquiry will cast a cloud over Mr Aitken.

The move is expected to postpone another inquiry, due to start in the autumn, into the Government's controversial nuclear industry sell-off.

A senior committee source said it was "reasonably satisfied" with Mr Heseltine's promises. This was in contrast to doubts expressed by committee members when Mr Heseltine made his dramatic statement a fortnight ago inviting them to look into BMARC.The committee was told it would receive co-operation in four areas: supply of information from ministers; from named civil servants; Customs and Excise; and the intelligence services. This last may prove to be the most significant of all. In the supergun affair, crucial reports from MI6 were not made available to MPs.