Aitken faces renewed pressure Further pressure likely on Aitken 4/30 pt of spacey type

BY CHRIS BLACKHURST

Westminster Correspondent

Jonathan Aitken, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, will come under renewed pressure on Monday when ITV's World in Action programme explores his relationships with members of the Saudi Arabian royal family.

Lawyers acting for King Fahd of Saudi Arabia are understood to have contacted the programme to try to stop it. Peter James, of the law firm Peter T James, has been in touch with the producers of the programme which centres on arms deals and the way Western companies won orders from the largest purchaser in the world.

The programme has been brought forward after the revelations in the Independent about Mr Aitken's directorship of an arms company that sold guns to Iran in defiance of a UN embargo.

It also coincides with the publication next week of the paperback edition of The House of Saud, by Said Aburish, a Middle East writer and former businessman. Mr Aburish has assisted the programme with its investigation and has been filmed. His publisher, Bloomsbury, promised yesterday that "his revelations about Jonathan Aitken's involvement in arms dealing ... will be explosive and highly controversial".

Mr Aburish's first book, Pay-off, dealt with bribery in the Middle East. After publishing The House of Saud, he claims to have been persecuted by the Saudi state machine.

"This is a book that the Saudi royals have desperately tried to suppress," Bloomsbury said.

In what could be a rerun of the diplomatic row between Britain and Saudi Arabia over the programme Death Of A Princess, World in Action accuses the Saudi rulers of corruption in arms deals.

Among those filmed was Gerald James, former chairman of BMARC, the arms company of which Mr Aitken was a director and which shipped guns to Iran.

Mr James told the programme about his knowledge of the corruption surrounding the Black Hawks helicopter deal between the US and Saudi Arabia. This deal, which has been well-documented in US court proceedings, included the payment of massive bribes. The helicopters cost $7.5m (£4.7m) each, but by the time bribes or "commissions" were added, the cost rose to $15m. Mr Aitken had no involvement in that deal.

However, he shared his intimate knowledge of the Saudi Arabian rulers with BMARC. In the confidential board minutes obtained by the Independent, he promises to try and sell the company's products in Saudi Arabia. At a board meeting on 2 November 1988 Mr Aitken proposed a presentation should be made in the country during January 1989.

The same meeting heard how "the agent acting for Mr Aitken" had already pulled off one Saudi order, "is ambitious and is working hard at establishing relationships".

Mr Aitken's closeness to the Saudi royals is well known. Prior to becoming a minister he was a director of Al Bilad (UK), one of their investment companies.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee