Select Committee on Foreign Affairs First Special Report




Recommendation 15

We believe that Mr Penfold acted as he thought was in the best interests of the United Kingdom and of Sierra Leone, and that he did not consider that his actions went beyond Government policy. Nonetheless, we believe they did. We hope that the Sandline affair will remind all diplomatic staff that they act only within the confines of policies set by Ministers, and the FCO must ensure that Government policy is made crystal clear to Heads of Mission and to the Departments concerned. (Paragraph 55)

What steps have been taken to recall to the Service their responsibility to Ministers and through them to Parliament?

  31.  The need for all staff to observe their commitment to HMG policy and their duty to Ministers is set out in the Code of Ethics which forms part of the terms and conditions of employment of all staff. The Code is being placed on the Department's Intranet to ensure that all staff have ready access to it.

Recommendation 18

  We conclude that there was an appalling failure in the briefing of Ministers which we recommend should not be repeated. It is on the basis of briefing that Ministers report to Parliament and, in the words of the Resolution of the House, "it is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament." We expect lessons to be learned from the Sandline case in the FCO and in all other Departments. (Paragraph 67)

What steps have been taken to improve the quality of briefing to Ministers?

  32.  As the Government's original reply said, the FCO has acted to improve the quality of briefing for Ministers following the Legg Report. The FCO continues to stress to all staff the importance of ensuring that Ministers are always able to fulfil their responsibilities under the Ministerial Code and the Resolution of the House.

Recommendation 20

  We recommend that, as a matter of course, when a line manager in the FCO becomes aware that any prosecuting authority in the United Kingdom may be investigating an officer he or she manages for an indictable offence alleged to be committed in the exercise of the officer's duty, he or she ensure that the Permanent Under-Secretary is immediately informed, and that the Permanent Under-Secretary forthwith inform the Secretary of State. (Paragraph 71)

Have there been any cases to date?

  33.  Guidance has been circulated to staff. There have been no such cases since publication of the Committee's report.

Recommendations 21 and 22

  We recommend that the FCO review and modify where appropriate the methods by which intelligence from external agencies is assessed inside the Department. (Paragraph 74)

  We recommend that in order to protect the interests of the Resident Clerk in the future, he or she should formally record the name of any official with whom he or she deals, and that every official who sees an intelligence report should be required to record the fact that he or she has done so. (Paragraph 75)

What progress has been made?

  34.  A confidential update has recently been submitted to the Committee (FCO/FAC/025-00). All contacts with the Resident Clerk are now recorded.

Recommendation 25

  We believe that FCO officials have a duty to ensure that prosecutintg authorities are informed immediately when serious criminal allegations are made to them, and also to co-operate as fully as possible with those authorities when an investigation is under way. (Paragraph 81)

Have there been any cases to date?

  35.  Guidance has been circulated to staff. There have been no such cases since publication of the Committee's report.

Recommendation 29

  We recommend that the Government reconsider seeking to amend the existing UN Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries but, if this cannot be achieved, that the Government take the lead in initiatives in the European Union, Council of Europe or the United Nations aimed at drawing up a new international legal instrument on the activities of mercenaries. (Paragraph 93)

What progress has been made on the Green Paper?

  36.  The UN Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries has not yet come into force. The UK has not become a party to the Convention because of doubts about its legal enforceability. Given the limited number of ratifications of this Convention there must be doubts about the market among States for an amended Convention which, if it were to be enforceable, would inevitably be more onerous.

Recommendations 30 and 31(b)

  We recommend that the Government take the lead in initiatives in Europe and/or the United Nations aimed at drawing up an international legal instrument on trafficking or brokering in arms subject to embargo. (Paragraph 95)

  In the case of arms trafficking and brokering, that the legislation to control these activities be introduced no later than in the next parliamentary session. (Paragraph 96)

What progress has been made on new export control legislation?

  37.  The Government is continuing to review the proposals in the White Paper on Strategic Export Controls (Cm 3989) for controls on trafficking and brokering in the light of comments received, including those in the Committee's report and in the two joint reports on strategic export controls by the Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry Committees (HC225 of 11 February and HC 467 of 25 July). The Government will announce its conclusions on this issue as soon as the review is complete.

  38.  The Government regrets that the demands on parliamentary time have not allowed a Bill to be introduced to implement the proposals contained in the White Paper. However, the Government remains committed to introduce such legislation as soon as time permits.

  39.  The Government continues to play a constructive role in international discussions on trafficking and brokering, in particular those on the proposed UN Protocol on illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms (which is being negotiated in Vienna in connection with the draft Convention against Trans-national Organised Crime) and those in the CFSP Working Group on Conventional Armed Exports. The Government has taken these into account in its review of the White Paper proposals.

Recommendation 31(a)

  In the case of mercenary activities, the publication, within 18 months, of a Green Paper outlining legislative options for the control of private military companies which operate out of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and the British Islands.

See 29 and 30 above

  40.  Officials of relevant Departments are continuing to work on the preparation of a Green Paper on mercenary activity, in order to fulfil the Government's undertaking to publish such a paper by November. Once the Green Paper has been published and discussed, the Government will consider what international initiatives, in addition to any domestic ones, might be taken.

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