Minister to study arms deal details

RICHARD Needham, the Minister for Trade, is to study evidence gathered by the Independent on illegal arms dealings by British companies with Iran, in breach of government embargoes. The chairman of the House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee has also requested this material and said he would be pressing for an investigation when Parliament resumes next month.

An investigation by the Independent and the Independent on Sunday has revealed that senior Ministry of Defence officials were aware that a British company, Allivane, was involved with an international network of companies supplying Iran during the first Gulf War. The MoD also intervened in the running of the one of the company's contracts in 1988.

This was a legal contract with Saudi Arabia, but officials knew of a plan to use it to disguise an illegal shipment of ammunition. DTI officials, it was revealed, were issuing export licences in the name of a company which did not exist, for products not made in the UK at the time, and for countries which could have no reasonable requirement for the arms.

It has also emerged that the company was involved in contracts for the supply of ammunition components to Iraq. Allivane was involved with the Space Research Corporation, the company run by Gerald Bull, who designed the supergun, in the manufacture of assembly lines components for the production of artillery fuses for Saddam Hussein.

Labour's defence spokesman, Dr David Clark, said: 'I was disturbed to learn about this and it shows how hypocritical the British government has been. Some of these weapons could have been used against Allied forces two years ago.'

Mr Needham requested to see the Independent's evidence as the DTI confirmed that it had started to examine the disclosures. The MoD, which supplied Allivane with spares, is also investigating.

A DTI spokeswoman said that procedures for the issue of export licences had been revised since the supergun affair in 1988.

But this assurance has not satisfed Richard Caborn, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, chairman of the Commons' trade and industry select committee. He said he was concerned that Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, had not resolved all the concerns raised by the supergun inquiry which concluded earlier this year. He said the involvement of the MoD with Allivane would be raised with his committee at the end of the summer recess.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'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
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
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
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk