British officials failed to pass on a warning about Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait that could have averted the capture of passengers and crew on a British Airways flight by Iraqi troops, the Government has admitted.
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, on Tuesday apologized to Parliament for the “unacceptable” failure to previously disclose the phone call by Britain’s ambassador to Kuwait that was revealed in newly released foreign office files.
She insisted there was no new evidence to back allegations that flight BA 149 was used to insert British special forces into the country following the Iraqi invasion in August 1990, despite repeated claims to the contrary by former hostages.
The aircraft was destroyed on the tarmac of Kuwait International Airport sometime before the end of the war. It is thought fleeing Iraqi forces blew up the British Airways jet.
Newly released foreign office files show that Sir Michael Weston, Britain’s ambassador to Kuwait, telephoned London to alert the foreign office about an Iraqi military incursion around midnight GMT on August 2, more than an hour before BA 149 landed at 1.13am.
Barry Manners, 54, a former passenger who was kept hostage by Iraqi soldiers for four-and-a-half months, has accused the Government of lying and refused to accept their apology.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s a lie. I’m gobsmacked they are still saying this. The evidence must be so refutable.
“If the Government was using British Airways as de facto military transport, come clean and admit it.”