Waldegrave `not linked to leak'

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The Independent Online
An angry William Waldegrave yesterday secured confirmation from the Scott inquiry that there was no evidence that he leaked damaging extracts from the draft arms-to-Iraq report.

"I am happy to confirm that I have no evidence that you, personally, had any knowledge of how the leak came about," Sir Richard Scott told the Minister of Agriculture in a letter.

Mr Waldegrave complained in an earlier letter that an inquiry press release on Tuesday, saying a molehunt had narrowed suspects to three, "placed me, quite gratuitously, in an intolerable position. I strongly protest at the way you have, unnecessarily, placed me in such difficulties."

Sir Richard said the release had stated only three people had received copies of all leaked extracts. "This is the fact," he said.

Mr Waldegrave and Lord Trefgarne, the former defence minister, denied involvement with the leak which accused them and Alan Clark, the former defence procurement minister, of deliberately misleading MPs over a shift in policy on arms sales to Iraq in 1988. Mr Clark is understood to have been assured by the inquiry that he was not one of the three suspects as he had not received the relevant documents.

Downing Street said there had been a mistaken impression that there had been only three recipients, but this was not strictly true because documents in draft form were sent out to other people in bits.

The Commons trade and industry select committee, meanwhile, prepared to launch an inquiry into allegations that the BMARC arms company of which Jonathan Aitken, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was a director, broke the Government's embargo on munitions sales to Iran.

The committee said it would call on Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, to clarify that the committee would be given access to intelligence material and officials. Richard Caborn, the Labour chairman, said he was "hopeful" Mr Heseltine would satisfy the committee, which would then mount an investigation.

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