Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-279)



  260. The State Department said "Mr Bustani had a habit of refusing to consult, such as when he proposed anti-terrorism measures after 11 September attacks without first consulting the United States". If we thought there were management problems, did we complain about his stewardship?
  (Mr Bradshaw) Yes, we have made our position quite clear about what we thought of his stewardship.

  261. But you have not made it clear, have you? I do not wish to be facetious, you have just told me there were problems but you have not made it clear what they were. I think Parliament has a right to be told. It might sound old-fashioned. What were the reasons?
  (Mr Bradshaw) I have already indicated that we were unhappy with his management. I am slightly nervous about going into detail in case he might take me to court. I will take the advice of the Chairman as to whether he would accept a letter written in confidence from me giving more detail about the exact reasons why we were unhappy with his management style.

Sir Patrick Cormack

  262. You are covered by parliamentary privilege. Tell us all about it.
  (Mr Bradshaw) I think, Chairman, if you do not mind, I would rather leave it that we shared the concerns of the vast majority of the other members, including the whole of the rest of the European Union who voted with us on this, that he had lost the confidence of the body because of management deficiencies. I really do not want to say any more than that.

  Andrew Mackinlay: So you will do us a letter, will you?


  263. Certainly you would be covered by parliamentary privilege if you were now to respond, otherwise if you wish to make it in confidence the Committee will be ready to receive it.
  (Mr Bradshaw) I will be very happy to do that.

  Andrew Mackinlay: For the record, I am afraid we might return to it, might we not, Chairman? Forget about the substance for the moment, it is a parliamentary principle that we should have the right to ask.


  264. A letter to us I am sure would contain many things which are not defamatory or which cannot be used.
  (Mr Bradshaw) I am happy to write along those lines, Chairman[3].

  Chairman: If you could aim to write an open letter to the Committee.

Sir Patrick Cormack

  265. I do not want to prolong this thing but the fact of the matter is here is a very high ranking official who has been dismissed and my colleague is asking the perfectly reasonable question why he has been dismissed. Whilst I understand that you are put on the spot, Mr Bradshaw, and I have some sympathy with you, I hope that your letter can be fairly frank and I hope you will accept that the Committee may well then wish to talk to you again in public about the letter. We do have a right to know whether this chap has merely disobliged the Americans or if he has had his hands in the till or has done something pretty terrible.
  (Mr Bradshaw) I have already made it clear, Chairman, that these were not concerns that were shared just by the Americans, they were shared by many other countries. The vast majority of countries at last night's vote voted for Mr Bustani's removal. I would suggest that it is simply implausible that any one country can nobble so many other countries at once and persuade them to do something which is totally—


  266. You will write to us[4].

  (Mr Bradshaw) I will write to you on the detail. To be perfectly honest, I am not aware of all the details of exactly what he is supposed to have done wrong.

  267. It is not the view of the Committee that you should be bounced at this time but what the Committee would expect is an open letter from you setting out heads of objection to his continuation.
  (Mr Bradshaw) I am happy to write to you in confidence along those lines but what I do not want to do is to drag someone's reputation out in public in this way.

  Chairman: I am sure there is much that can be said in open that the Committee can use. If there are one or two confidential matters of the sort touched on by Sir Patrick, let those be—

  Andrew Mackinlay: Chairman, I want to make myself clear. You were not here on Sierra Leone. When we started to ask difficult questions and scratched the surface people did not want to respond. I do not want to labour this point this afternoon but I think the Minister or the Director for International Security could and should answer this. I guess I have not got the majority of the Committee with me this afternoon pressing for this—that is a question, not a statement—but I think if the Minister writes we make it clear that we reserve the right to come back.

  Chairman: Of course.

  Andrew Mackinlay: I do not think necessarily that letter—I am reluctant to commit myself that that letter somehow locks me into not pursuing it further.

  Chairman: I do not think any letter is going to lock you into that.

  Mr Chidgey: I accept everything the Minister says on this but there is a point of precedent being raised where difficult questions are posed. Surely this Committee would not wish Ministers to respond by a letter that is in confidence, because that is not the purpose of this Committee.

  Andrew Mackinlay: I have got a suggestion for the Committee.

  Mr Olner: I have to say, Chairman, I thought we were taking evidence.

  Andrew Mackinlay: Chairman, let the Minister consult on this and my questions stand on the table and he can come back either physically or in an open letter. If he does not then I think it is a matter for us to discuss in business because I want answers to that.


  268. Minister, it would be wrong to expect from you now an immediate reply. What we are entitled to is a full reply in open. If there are matters which are extremely sensitive in a personal way then by all means add part of a letter which cannot be published, but the presumption must be that the letter should be open and in the public domain[5].

  (Mr Bradshaw) I am perfectly happy to do that, Chairman. Your Members might feel slightly less frustrated if I added that I think the main areas of our concern were financial management and staff morale.

Sir John Stanley

  269. Minister, can I turn to the interview that was given by the Secretary of State for Defence on the ITV Jonathan Dimbleby programme on 24 March in which Mr Hoon was asked whether a UN mandate was necessary before military action was undertaken against Iraq and to that question he replied "There are clearly a range of legal options available to us; going back to the United Nations is only one of them". He went on to say "As far as I understand the position, legally we would be perfectly entitled to use force as we have done in the past without the support of a United Nations Security Council Resolution". My question to you is did the Secretary of State for Defence understand the legal position correctly or not?
  (Mr Bradshaw) I am sure he did, Chairman, but of course the answer to the question depends on the circumstances at the time.

  270. So you are saying to us that as far as the British Government's legal advice is concerned there are circumstances in which it would be wholly legal for the United Kingdom and, indeed, other Alliance forces to engage in further military action against Iraq without a further UN Resolution?
  (Mr Bradshaw) Let me emphasise, and I think it is very important to do this, that there are no immediate plans for military action against Iraq, they are not imminent and they are certainly not inevitable. But there are instances, and the Committee will be aware of them— I think you have asked for a memorandum of understanding on this in advance of your meeting on Thursday to discuss British-American relations and that memorandum is on its way to you today, so you will have it by the end of the day, outlining exactly what our legal view is in response to the questions that you have just posed[6]. If I could perhaps precis the answer to it. Yes, of course there are instances when military action is justified without a new UN Resolution. There are others when a UN Resolution is if not necessary then certainly preferable. There is also a view regarding Iraq, which you may well be aware of because it is one that I enunciated in an adjournment debate on this subject, that Iraq being in breach of the cease-fire agreement that it reached after the Gulf War means that cease-fire agreement is no longer in force. I think the important thing to stress is that all of our efforts at the moment are going into persuading Iraq to allow the UN weapons inspectors back in to do the work that the international community requires that they do.

  271. So you are saying to us that the legality of further military action against Iraq would rest on breaches by Iraq of the UN Resolutions following the cease-fire after the war against Kuwait and would not rest on any of the resolutions that have been passed by the United Nations since 11 September?
  (Mr Bradshaw) It would depend on the circumstances at the time if and when any decision on military action was going to be made. What the British Government has made absolutely clear time and time again is that we always take military action within international law.


  272. To follow up Sir John's question on that. There were two series of UN Resolutions, first those post September 11. Is there in the view of the Government sufficient evidence to link Iraq with al-Qaeda which could give even the scintilla of a basis in international law for military intervention in Iraq?
  (Mr Bradshaw) No.

  273. There is not? On the next category—
  (Mr Bradshaw) In response to your specific question about a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda the answer is no.

  274. In relation to the UN Security Council Resolutions since 11 September there is, therefore, no basis for pursuing Iraq on any evidence which is available in that context?
  (Mr Bradshaw) Not at the moment, no.

  275. Thank you. Pursuing it in respect of the other series of resolutions post-1991, leaving the new development, self-defence, whatever, on the existing facts and that series of resolutions, is there any basis which could justify a military intervention against Iraq and, if so, on which resolution?
  (Mr Bradshaw) I have already mentioned in answer to Sir John Stanley on the basis on which military action could be justified but I have also stressed that it would depend on the circumstances at the time. All of these questions, if you will forgive me, Chairman, at the moment are hypothetical because our overriding aim is to get the weapons inspectors back in to avoid any suggestion that military action will happen.

  276. And if the weapons inspectors were to be returned under reasonable conditions, in your view would that stop any demand for a regime change in Iraq?
  (Mr Bradshaw) What we are demanding is full compliance with the UN Resolutions.

  277. That is the extent of the agenda.
  (Mr Bradshaw) It is not just about letting weapons inspectors back in, that is a popular misconception, it is about allowing the weapons inspectors to do their job properly, which is dismantling in a verifiable way Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme. This was a commitment that Saddam Hussein entered into at the end of the Gulf War, it is something he consistently tried to avoid doing when the weapons inspectors were in. It is really very simple, the decision will be his, but all the international community is demanding through the United Nations is full compliance with those resolutions.

Sir Patrick Cormack

  278. Could I try and link the two things that we have been talking about, Mr Bradshaw. The title of our inquiry is Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism. You have told us very clearly this afternoon that it is the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government to see a just and equitable settlement of the dispute between Israel and Palestine. You have indicated that would mean two secure recognised states. You have also indicated that you regard the West Bank occupation as illegal and east Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine. Does Her Majesty's Government, moving on from there, recognise that unless we are moving significantly in that direction any foreign policy which precipitated military action against Iraq would, in fact, cause problems in the Middle East beside which the present problems would pale into insignificance?
  (Mr Bradshaw) I have already indicated in an answer I gave to Mr Olner earlier that I think there is general acceptance that the political facts are that were progress being made on the Middle East peace process in political terms, particularly in the region, it would be much easier to take action against Iraq but it would be a mistake if the Committee were to assume that these issues have to be linked. The fact is that if we face a real threat from Iraq, which we do, and I think the Committee accepts that, the evidence is all there in the annual reports from the United Nations' inspectors when they were there, and we know that since they left matters have got even worse, taking into account Saddam Hussein's record as being unique in the world as having used these weapons, and his intentions, I think it would be a mistake to assume that you have to solve the Middle East peace process before you can take action against Iraq. Nobody is going to allow themselves to have their hands tied in that way. That does not mean to say that we do not need to double and redouble our efforts to try to find a solution in the Middle East. There is no way, as some people have suggested, that somehow this new interest in finding a solution to the Middle East peace process is some ulterior motive to make an attack against Iraqis.

Mr Chidgey

  279. Minister, referring back to the opening remarks on this issue by Sir John in relation to your colleague, the Secretary of State for Defence, do you subscribe to the view that a pre-emptive strike against a rogue state is legitimate self-defence?
  (Mr Bradshaw) It depends on what your assessment is at the time of the threat they pose and the intentions that they have.

3   See Evidence, p Ev 83. Back

4   Ibid. Back

5   See Evidence, p Ev 83. Back

6   See Evidence, pp Ev 98-Ev 99. Back

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