Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-279)|
TUESDAY 23 APRIL 2002
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,
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: 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
(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.
(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
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 thisthat
is a question, not a statementbut 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 letterI 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
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.
(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
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.
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
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.
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
(Mr Bradshaw) It depends on what your assessment is
at the time of the threat they pose and the intentions that they
3 See Evidence, p Ev 83. Back
See Evidence, p Ev 83. Back
See Evidence, pp Ev 98-Ev 99. Back