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Saturday, May 9, 1998 Published at 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK

UK: Politics

'I've nothing to hide,' says Cook
image: [ Robin Cook:
Robin Cook: "There will be no hiding place for the facts"

The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has insisted that there has been no ministerial involvement over shipments of arms to Sierra Leone.

Mr Cook, speaking to the press at the G8 conference in London on Saturday, rejected claims that ministers sanctioned a bid by the firm Sandline International to help the African state's president regain power.

The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, says: "don't jump to conclusions" (3'04")
He pledged that the results of an investigation into the affair would be published as soon as possible.

"I am determined there will be no hiding place for the facts," he said.

Mr Cook said Foreign Office Minister Baroness Symons had answered "honestly and frankly within the state of her knowledge at the time" when she gave an answer on the matter in the House of Lords.

He insisted there had been no misleading of Parliament.

"There has been no ministerial approval, no policy decision which could in any way be held to have provided prior approval of post approval for Sandline's activities," he said.

Mr Cook said claims in a letter from Sandline's lawyers that Foreign Office officials had been aware of its activities were serious allegations.

But he stressed that at present they were just allegations made by a lawyer acting for a company which might be involved in a future court case.

"I do think press and public would be right to suspend judgement on these lawyer's allegations until we have the considered judgement of that full, open and public investigation that I have promised," he said.


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