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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there