Waldegrave 'not told of Iraqi exports': Minister given contradictory intelligence, Scott inquiry told. David Connett reports

INTELLIGENCE about British involvement in Iraq's military build- up was not given to William Waldegrave, then a Foreign Office minister, before a crucial meeting, the Scott inquiry was told yesterday.

Detailed information warning that machine tools supplied by a British company were destined for an Iraqi factory making rocket and bomb fuses in clear breach of government guidelines was not given to Mr Waldegrave.

Instead he received contradictory information that MI6 was 'inclined to believe' Iraqi claims that the machine tools were for civil purposes and the arguments for banning or permitting them were 'finely balanced'.

The omission led to the exports being approved. Three executives from the Matrix Churchill machine tool company later stood trial accused of breaches of export regulations but were cleared after it was revealed the Government was aware of their activities.

A senior civil servant involved in briefing the minister could not explain to the inquiry why the intelligence was left out.

Stephen Lamport, assistant head of the Foreign Office's Middle East department in 1988, told Lord Justice Scott: 'I cannot answer why it wasn't put in. I simply don't know.'

One reason, he surmised, might have been because Mr Waldegrave already knew. 'Ministers were not coming to it cold. It was discussed orally. A lot of conversations were going on at the time.' But he admitted that he did not discuss it with the minister.

It was revealed the briefing was prepared by Simon Sherrington, an official who arrived in the department less than two months earlier. Mr Sherrington told the inquiry he was not shown earlier intelligence because he did not have security clearance. When this was approved a month later the reports had gone. He said the contradictory intelligence contained in the briefing came from a telephone conversation with someone from MI6. Both Mr Sherrington and the MI6 officer will give evidence at a later date.

He prepared the briefing in October 1989, the day before a meeting between Mr Waldegrave and Alan Clark and Lord Trefgarne, the defence and trade ministers, about Matrix Churchill's export applications. Lord Justice Scott said the omission meant Mr Waldegrave was 'sent into battle with a bow and arrow when he should have had a Kalashnikov'. Mr Lamport said the main thrust of the arguments when ministers met at the House of Commons was about whether the guidelines should remain, not about the specific export applications.

The Foreign Office was 'convinced the guidelines were right, other departments were not' he said. It came under increasing pressure to relax or abandon them.

Mr Lamport said he could not explain why, when it was confirmed that Matrix Churchill was breaching the guidelines after export approval was given, the Foreign Office still did nothing.

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
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: Events Consultant

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Injection Moulding Supervisor

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy moulding company requires ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Advisor - £35,000 OTE

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Advisor is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Contact Centre Advisor

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the UK's leading accident an...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003