Supergun inventor 'feared Foreign Office': Chris Blackhurst examines letters from Dr Gerald Bull which reveal his deep concern for his safety

THE INVENTOR of the Supergun, Gerald Bull, feared he was being targeted by the British Foreign Office in the months leading up to his mysterious murder in Brussels in March 1990.

Bull's killer has never been found. It has always been assumed that his professional execution - he was shot on his doorstep in the back of the head at point-blank range - was carried out by an agent from Mossad, the Israeli secret service, which was desperate to prevent Iraq acquiring the supergun technology. But letters passed to the Independent reveal that he was also deeply worried about the behaviour of the Foreign Office.

The letters are from Bull to Philippe Glibert, deputy general manager and sales director at PRB, a Belgian munitions company. They were both sent on the same day, 31 October 1989.

In them, he complained that the Foreign Office was spreading false stories about him and he had been warned his life was in danger. 'I addressed a blunt memorandum to the Foreign Office on the whole matter,' he wrote. 'I was advised in a letter of an imminent 'accident'.' Following his memo, Bull says 'we were assured that the action was by a 'few irresponsible juniors and did not reflect the Foreign Office views of myself, our companies, the past etc'.'

William Waldegrave, who last week gave evidence to the Scott inquiry into arms to Iraq, was a Foreign Office minister at the time the letters were written.

The breakdown in relations with the Government, Bull said, was a recent occurrence. Until the late summer he had been on the point of receiving state aid to redevelop the old Lear Fan aircraft factory in Belfast. His company, Space Research Corporation, was interested in the plant's carbon fibre facility, vital in the production of nose cones for missiles and ammunition. But the deal did not go ahead - at the time the Government said it was concerned at Bull's Iraqi links. However, according to the letters, that was not the case at all: the Government had known about them.

SRC, Bull wrote, 'worked with the Industrial Development Board and Peat Marwick (Brussels) to develop the business plan. One issue brought up at the outset was the question of acceptability. Was SRC acceptable? Were the Iraqis acceptable? The Northern Ireland authorities were most affirmative on both and were given full background details'.

The Iraqis accepted the business plan and agreed to be a 50 per cent partner, 'but only after they sent their own group . . . to receive assurances from the Northern Ireland authorities that they were welcomed . . ' Bull maintained that it was not the case that SRC sought state backing - it was the Government that wanted to be seen to be investing in a project in Northern Ireland. 'We did not need the money . . . the IDB insisted on the grant for political reasons.'

However, the Government money never materialised. Bull alleged that the intervention of a senior civil servant caused a rethink.

The Foreign Office said: 'The whole question of the supply of arms to Iraq is a matter Lord Justice Scott is pursuing at the moment.' Mr Glibert refused to comment. The Scott inquiry resumes today.

Supergun trial for Italy, page 12

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 celebration of British elections
  • 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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'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
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