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Q&A: The Scott Report
The Supergun case was one of several investigated by the inquiry
In 1996 the report of Lord Justice Scott's inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair was published.

The Scott Inquiry was set up in 1992 following the collapse of the Matrix Churchill trial.

Matrix Churchill was a Coventry firm involved in exporting machine tools, which could be used for making military equipment, to Iraq.

Three senior executives of Matrix Churchill were charged in 1991 with deceiving the Government over the intended use of the machine tools when they applied for export licences.

They defended themselves on the basis that the Government knew exactly what Matrix Churchill was up to: not least because its managing director, Paul Henderson, had been supplying information about Iraq to the British intelligence agencies on a regular basis.
What they told the Inquiry
Of course half a picture can be accurate.
David Gore-Booth, head of the Foreign Office Middle East Department

The prosecution went badly from the start. The judge overturned Public Interest Immunity Certificates signed by several Government ministers, forcing them to hand over confidential documents to the defence.

Then Alan Clark MP admitted under cross-examination that notes of one DTI meeting were 'economical with the actualité' and he knew full well the machine tools could be used to manufacture munitions.

The inquiry that followed was a spectacular exposé of the inner workings of Whitehall.

What were the terms of reference?

The Inquiry was set up on a non-statutory basis and was tasked with examining defence and dual-use exports to Iraq, whether Ministers stuck to Government policy, and the use of the Public Interest Immunity Certificates.

Who investigated?

Lord Justice Scott, a senior judge, headed the inquiry. He came with strong independent credentials, having found against the Government in the Spycatcher case.

Witnesses were cross-examined by Counsel to the Inquiry Presiley Baxendale QC. They did not have their own legal representation.

Who gave evidence?

The witnesses included Prime Minister of the day John Major and his predecessor Lady Thatcher. Other Ministers to appear included Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke, Lord Howe, Douglas Hurd and Alan Clark.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Robin Butler, now Lord Butler and heading the inquiry into intelligence on Iraqi WMD, was the most senior of the many civil servants to give evidence. The inquiry also heard from intelligence officers, the Matrix Churchill defendants and their legal team.

What did the report say?

The five volumes - 1806 pages - of the report give an exhaustive account of the background to what became the Matrix Churchill affair: from export control procedures, to arms exports to Iraq, to the conduct of the case itself and other similar prosecutions.
What they told the Inquiry
Truth is a difficult concept.
Ian McDonald, head of the Ministry of Defence's Defence Sales Secretariat

Lord Scott found that the Government had failed to disclose to Parliament its decision to adopt a 'more liberal policy on defence sales to Iraq'.

He made a series of recommendations on export control procedures, the use of PII certificates and other issues in prosecutions, the use of intelligence by Government departments, and ministerial accountability.

The report also made recommendations about procedures for inquiries.

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