Hurd accused over arms-for-Iraq affair

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Indy Politics
DOUGLAS HURD, the Foreign Secretary, was accused of misleading Parliament over arms sales to Iraq during the Commons debate on the United Nations, writes Nicholas Timmins.

Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow, told MPs he accepted that John Major, during his brief spell as Foreign Secretary in 1989, either did not understand or was not fully briefed on the issues.

'But his successor, Mr Hurd, was a very different kettle of fish because few men have come to the office of Foreign Secretary with a greater knowledge of world affairs. He is very clever and very quick on the uptake. I cannot believe that the Foreign Office officials would have dared in these matters not to brief him.'

Yet in March 1990, Mr Hurd had told Gerald Kaufman, his Labour opposite number, after Iraq's attempt to import nuclear triggers from Britain had been discovered: 'You know that we do not supply arms to Iraq and I am glad of the opportunity to make that clear.' That, he said, required an explanation.

Douglas Hogg, the Foreign Office Minister of State, replying to the debate, accused Mr Dalyell of 'abusing' it with irrelevant issues.