Soldier at the heart of arms sale control: Jordan was known to be a 'front' for Iraq in arms purchases, a senior Army officer tells the Scott inquiry

IN THE EYES of the civil servants and companies whose futures were inextricably entwined with the sale of weapons or defence equipment to Iran and Iraq, Lt-Col Richard Glazebrook and his colleagues became known as the 'branch that likes to say no'.

As Lord Justice Scott and his team endeavour to discover the extent of government knowledge of, and possible complicity in, exports to Iran and Iraq in breach of their own guidelines, Lt-Col Glazebrook has now spent four days helping them unpick a complicated Gordian knot of government guidelines, Whitehall committee procedures, export regulations and obscure mandarin speak.

His role on the Arms Working Group, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) group of military advisers which vetted defence exports to Iran and Iraq, has taken the inquiry to the centre of the system regulating the sale of weapons and related equipment.

The group determined what could and could not be sold abroad. 'If you are talking pure security you would sell nothing to nobody. On the other hand, that would make the UK manufacturing centre broke tomorrow and so what you are faced with is a compromise,' he said.

The MoD is responsible for 'looking after our own troops'. 'We are desperately concerned that nothing should go which might affect, say, troops deployed in Bosnia at the moment.' This meant the interests of selling equipment was overridden on occasions, he said. Despite being in a job which hugs anonymity like a newly discovered, long-lost friend, the 61- year-old retired Army officer has taken the open hearings easily in his military stride and set standards of candour other witnesses will be expected to follow. Unlike almost every other witness called so far, he chooses to sit without a legal adviser at his elbow.

During a 30-year career in the Army, Richard Glazebrook, MBE, reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1973 before retiring from the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire in 1985. Such was his expertise he was immediately re-employed by the MoD as an 'RO1' (Retired Officer class 1) on 'technical security'. Retired officers re-employed as civilians in this way are usually on specialist military duties, often with a technical slant.

Usually, a retired officer will be employed two grades below his rank on leaving: for example, a Brigadier will be employed as an RO1 which equates with Lieutenant-Colonel: a Lieutenant-Colonel as an RO3, equating with a Captain. So Lt-Col Glazebrook's grade suggests either unusual expertise or a subsequent promotion.

His expertise, the inquiry learnt, was nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare - a particularly sensitive area of arms proliferation - which is almost certainly one of the main reasons behind his appointment to JSORESB: Joint Systems, Operational Requirements, Equipment Security Branch, which examines the technical problems soldiers face in modern war.

He told the Scott inquiry he was involved in drafting key NBC guidelines for the British Army. In a rare glimpse of Richard Glazebrook, the man, as opposed to the professional soldier, he revealed that he brought to bear more than just a technical perspective. 'My father was gassed twice in World War One and from his descriptions of what happened I have a particular hatred of it,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence