Thatcher 'knew of Iraq arms sting': British executives trapped in covert US operation cleared of plotting to smuggle detonator equipment to Baghdad. David Connett reports
Tuesday 24 May 1994
The allegation was made after the two executives, who were jailed after an 'arms for Iraq' trial, were cleared by the Court of Appeal. Ali Daghir and Jeanine Speckman, directors of the Surrey-based Euromac company, were cleared of conspiring to smuggle detonator equipment for nuclear bombs to Baghdad.
Documents obtained from a US congressional committee by the defendants' legal team state clearly that US Customs were told 'the British Prime Minister (Mrs Thatcher) is very much interested' in the progress of the sting operation, seven months before both executives were arrested at Heathrow airport. The documents also show the US undercover operation had the support of 'British Military Intelligence'.
David Jane, the defendants' solicitor, said the US documents raised 'very serious questions about the high-level political involvement' in the entrapment of his clients, suggesting the publicity surrounding their arrest may have served 'political interests rather than justice'.
He said evidence in the case would be passed to the Scott inquiry. 'This is a further example of the Government's failure to disclose the full truth about matters relevant to the defence in criminal prosecutions,' he said.
The decision to clear both defendants came after hearing evidence that the jury had been misdirected by the trial judge.
Geoffrey Robertson QC, for the defence, said Judge Neil Denison gave jurors at the trial in June 1991 the impression they could still convict if they found the 40 electrical capacitors at the centre of the case were for other military, but non-nuclear use. This was a 'material defect' in the summing-up because the prosecution had 'nailed its case to the nuclear mast', he told Lord Justice Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Hutchison and Mr Justice Buxton. Their detailed ruling will be given tomorrow.
Mr Daghir, 52, of Esher, Surrey, managing director of Euromac, was jailed for five years but bailed pending appeal after serving 15 months; Mrs Speckman, 44, the export director, of Addlestone, Surrey, served her 18-month sentence.
The prosecution denied the judge gave the wrong impression but agreed that if he did, the pair should be cleared.
The jury had been told that Euromac specialised in exporting air-conditioning equipment and food to Iraq. The initial order for the capacitors, worth approximately pounds 3,000 came from an Iraqi government agency. Euromac placed an order with a Californian company which tipped off US Customs after suspecting they were for nuclear detonators.
At the trial, British and American officials insisted the capacitors could only be used in nuclear bombs. Both defendants insisted they were for civilian purposes.
The defence also claimed they were unlawfully 'entrapped' by the undercover US customs agent.
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...