British defence equipment 'diverted to Iraq': Thatcher given detailed reports about arms deals, inquiry told. David Connett reports

BRITAIN supplied Jordan with defence equipment worth more than pounds 300m, despite military intelligence warnings that arms were being diverted to Iraq.

Baroness Thatcher, the former prime minister, who signed the deal in 1985, received detailed reports every three months about this and other British arms deals, the Scott Inquiry was told yesterday.

The first warning from the Defence Intelligence Service came in November 1984, a month after Michael Heseltine, then Secretary of State for Defence, visited Amman for talks with King Hussein, the Jordanian leader, to clinch the deal. In December 1984, Britain adopted stricter guidelines restricting export of defence equipment to Iraq and Iran.

Despite continued intelligence warnings that Baghdad was bypassing the guidelines, a Ministry of Defence committee set up to vet defence equipment exports refused to extend its scrutiny of arms sales to Jordan and Egypt, Lt-Col Richard Glazebrook, a retired senior Army officer and committee member, told the inquiry.

He said defence intelligence warned that Jordan was passing nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protective equipment to Iraq, as well as other military equipment. 'Unsubstantiated but very detailed' press reports and a number of 'unlikely' orders placed with British firms by the Jordanians reinforced his concern.

Lord Justice Scott's inquiry is investigating claims of ministerial and civil service collusion in defence exports which breached official guidelines and export control legislation.

Lt-Col Glazebrook said that despite the deepening and continuing concern of intelligence officers, Britain agreed an enhanced package of military sales to Jordan in 1987. It represented a 15 per cent increase on the earlier pounds 270m deal and included NBC equipment, thermal-imaging devices and electronic warfare equipment, which military experts attempted to prevent Baghdad from obtaining.

He was not told of the improved package for which Jordan received a loan from Britain. 'I had the uncomfortable feeling that things were going on behind my back of which I was not aware,' Lt-Col Glazebrook said. He only learnt the contents of the new deal after getting a copy of a quarterly report sent to Lady Thatcher and detailing British arms sales.

In 1987, fears that UK guidelines were being breached by Iraq through Jordan extended to Egypt, he said.

The MoD's arms working party, which vetted military exports, considered an application for the sale of British-supplied parts for ground-to- ground rockets to Egypt. Backed by military intelligence, he opposed it on the grounds that the parts could be diverted to Baghdad and adapted to carry chemical warheads, but he was overruled. After the Gulf war, rockets of the same type with warheads full of nerve gas were discovered by UN inspectors sent to destroy Iraq's chemical weapons stockpile. Lt-Col Glazebrook added that when there was a wide discussion about extending the weapons embargo to Egypt and Jordan it was overruled by the chairman of the arms working party.

The inquiry continues today.

Missing equipment, page 7

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before