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Police to question diplomats

THE British High Commissioner in Zambia, Patrick Nixon, is understood to be among a number of diplomats and civil servants involved in two separate police investigations prompted by the Scott inquiry.

Mr Nixon and Carsten Pigott, now number two in the British embassy in Ethiopia, are both accused in the Scott Report of impeding the course of justice before the arms-to-Iraq trial of Reginald Dunk, a weapons dealer, in 1985. Both diplomats were then based at the Foreign Office in London.

In 1994 Mr Dunk's conviction was quashed by the Appeal Court on the grounds that Foreign Office officials had prevented witnesses appearing for his defence. Documents showed that the Foreign Office, under pressure from Customs, had persuaded the Iraqi and Jordanian embassies not to give evidence which might have cleared him. Asked about the two diplomats, the Foreign Office said: "We cannot comment while the Crown Prosecution Service investigation is in progress."

Another post-Scott CPS investigation centres on two senior officials from the Department of Trade and Industry. Eric Beston, former head of the DTI's export controls and licensing branch, and Anthony Steadman, former head of the DTI export licensing unit, are being investigated by the police with regard to possible prosecution over statements made during the Matrix Churchill trial, which Sir Richard examined in detail and severely criticised. A source within the police said: "Inquiries are continuing for the CPS," and added that a decision would be made in the near future.

Special report, pages 17-19

Alan Watkins, page 21