Thatcher “may have misled MPs” about British Airways flight to Kuwait
Margaret Thatcher falsely told MPs that a British Airways flight landed in Kuwait before the Iraq invasion began, according to recently released files.
The documents show officials believed the flight could have been refused had the Foreign Ministry notified the airline that an Iraqi incursion was underway.
Flight BA149 landed in Kuwait in the early hours of August 2, 1990, and within hours more than 300 passengers and crew were arrested by invading Iraqi troops.
The Foreign Office has now released its files on the theft amid long-standing claims the government allowed him to proceed even though he was aware of the danger he was in because he was carrying a team of special forces he wanted to infiltrate the country. .
In his response, Sir John insisted that there were no British servicemen on board the flight.
He also said that while Iraqi troops gathered at the border, there was no “solid evidence” that Saddam Hussein was about to invade, let alone occupy, all of Kuwait.
However, a briefing note prepared by Prime Minister Nixon, a foreign ministry official in the Middle East Department, revealed that the government was less than outspoken about what it knew about Iraqi troop movements.
“We never made public the fact that our ambassador to Kuwait telephoned the resident clerk (of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) before BA149 landed in Kuwait to tell him that Iraqi troops had crossed the border,” he said. he noted.
“At the time, we had no reason to believe that the Iraqis would go on and launch a full-scale invasion.
“The resident clerk did not notify the Ministry of Transport who may have hijacked the flight from Kuwait.”
Mr Nixon also expressed concern that when Mrs Thatcher answered questions about the Commons leak immediately after the invasion, she may have misled Parliament.
The then prime minister said the flight landed and passengers and crew disembarked before the invasion, adding: “The invasion was later.”
Mr Nixon wrote: “The then Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons on September 6, 1990 may have given the impression that the plane landed before Iraqi troops crossed the border.
“It didn’t. The flight landed after the initial incursions, but before the full-scale invasion was apparent.”