Letter: Thatcher's confusion

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Sir: No, I was never a prime minister, but I was a Labour minister in the Department of Defence and the Foreign Office, and a cabinet minister from 1976 to 1979. I am staggered by some of Baroness Thatcher's statements to the Scott inquiry on arms supplies to Iraq - and I hope that Lord Justice Scott is, too.

First, in view of the massive military battle with Saddam Hussein, all the lives lost and the vast public expenditure, how can she argue that the issue of British arms to Saddam was not important enough for her to be bothered with (ministers only bothered her with 'big things')?

Second, is it conceivable that intelligence reports about how UK arms exports to Iraq were being used were being kept from the then Prime Minister?

Third, would a group of junior ministers, William Waldegrave, Alan Clark and Lord Trefgarne, change government policy guidelines without consulting the Prime Minister, unless they had strong reasons to believe that she would go along with these secret changes? If they were wrong in their assumptions, why were they not sacked?

Fourth, how could Mrs Thatcher (as she then was) tell Parliament in 1987 that there had been no changes in government policy when there clearly had?

Either Lady Thatcher is admitting incompetence in handling vital issues of state (not exactly her style), or she is laying herself and the Government open to accusations of deceit and deception.

Yours faithfully,


House of Lords

London, SW1

9 December