Scott seeks Iraq link to Al-Yamamah: Inquiry to ask for details of arms shipments. Tim Kelsey and Peter Koenig report

THE SCOTT inquiry is investigating whether weapons shipped to Saudi Arabia under the Al- Yamamah contract, which Mark Thatcher allegedly helped to broker, were diverted to Saddam Hussein's regime.

A spokesman for the inquiry confirmed last night that Lord Justice Scott had asked British Aerospace for information on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia, following allegations that some of these had been diverted to Iraq. Mark Thatcher is said to have made around pounds 12m in commissions as a middleman in the negotiations for the contract, which was signed by his mother in 1985, when she was Prime Minister.

A former member of the Commons' Public Accounts Committee accused David Hunt, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who is also Minister for Public Service, of 'telling blatant untruths' by claiming on Monday that the PAC had audited the Al-Yamamah project and found that no commissions were paid. Dale Campbell- Savours, Labour MP for Workington, said: 'I can tell you they are deliberately misleading the public.'

The PAC chose not to publish a National Audit Office report, which allegedly contains details of commissions, after being told that Saudi Arabia would cancel the order if it did.

Adnan Khashoggi, the international defence consultant, issued a statement last night denying that he had ever confirmed Mr Thatcher's involvement in fixing the pounds 20bn Al-Yamamah deal, the largest in British history. The Sunday Times quoted him at the weekend talking about Mr Thatcher's role.

He accused reporters of misquoting him, but he did not threaten to take legal action against them. He said: 'I deny having any knowledge of . . . Mr Thatcher's involvement in (the) transaction.' He added: 'I and my companies have never worked in defence matters outside of Saudi Arabia. The intelligence services of the Western countries of the principal suppliers to Saudi Arabia are well aware that I and my companies have assisted in defence matters only in Saudi Arabia and nowhere else.'

There have been repeated allegations that weapons shipped under the guise of Al-Yamamah during the 1980s were destined, in fact, for Iraq as part of a clandestine Western effort to help arm Saddam despite sanctions. A spokesman for the Scott inquiry said last night: 'The inquiry has investigated various allegations regarding the possible use of Saudi Arabia as a diversionary destination for the export of arms and ammunition to Iraq. However, the inquiry is not investigating the Al- Yamamah project.' The terms of reference of the Scott inquiry would not allow for a wholesale investigation into Al-Yamamah.

Several witnesses have told the inquiry that Saudi Arabia was used by British companies as a false 'end-user'. Some of this testimony was heard in closed session. Among those who are known to have made such claims are Gerald James, former chairman of Astra, the arms company. He claimed that British Aerospace ground-to- air missiles were shipped as part of an Al-Yamamah consignment for Saudi Arabia but diverted to Iraq. The consignment was allegedly stored in premises belonging to Astra without the knowledge of all the firm's management. It is not known what British Aerospace, which is the prime contractor on Al-Yamamah, has told the inquiry. A spokesman said: 'Yes, there has been correspondence and other contacts with the inquiry.'

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
people
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Programme Planner

£30000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Supply Chain Manager

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's most progressive and innova...

Senior SAP FICO Consultant, £60,000 - £65,000, Manchester

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP FICO Consultant...

Service Desk Analyst - ITIL, Windows, Active Directory

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading brokerage is looking for a...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor