Files on Pergau project withheld

SIX TOP SECRET files on the Pergau dam project are being withheld from public scrutiny, it was revealed last night.

Mark Lennox-Boyd, the junior foreign minister, said in a parliamentary answer to Alan Williams, MP for Swansea West, that the files were held at the Foreign Office in London.

They are marked 'not for NAO Eyes', a reference to the National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog.

It was the NAO that exposed the waste of pounds 234m of overseas aid on the project, which was apparently linked to the sale of exports, including arms, and the building of a special forces base in Malaysia.

The refusal to release the documents will fuel suspicion that Pergau was more than an ordinary aid project.

MPs have used parliamentary privilege to allege that bribes of pounds 35m were paid to local officials and also to members of the Malaysian royal family.

Attention is also focusing on the Government's behaviour in the case of Lorrain Osman, a Malaysian banker who claimed he was being persecuted by the Malaysian regime.

Two former Foreign Office ministers, Lord Caithness and Francis Maude, signed public interest immunity certificates in 1990 and 1992 to prevent the use in court of telexes between the Malaysian, British and Hong Kong governments, which Mr Osman's lawyers claimed were helpful to his case.

Mr Osman was chairman of the Hong Kong branch of Bank Bumiputra, the government-owned Malaysian bank.

Following a scandal at the bank, he was held, pending extradition to Hong Kong, in London. After spending more than seven years fighting extradition - he was Britain's longest ever remand prisoner - he was sent to Hong Kong in 1992 and was sentenced to one year's imprisonment.

The Government also disclosed it would not be publishing the crucial dissenting opinion about the granting of aid to Pergau from the then permanent secretary at the Overseas Development Administration to ministers. Instead, Mr Lennox-Boyd said the Foreign Office was preparing a 'full memorandum' for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee which is now looking into Pergau.

At a private meeting yesterday, the committee agreed to call Baroness Chalker, the overseas development minister and Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary. Baroness Chalker is known to have shared her officials' opposition to the project.

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
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
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

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker / Telesales

£15000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading supplie...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project