Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page







World News in Audio

On Air


Talking Point


Low Graphics


Site Map

Sunday, May 10, 1998 Published at 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK


Arms-to-Africa affair dominates newspapers

Coverage of possible ministerial involvement in the shipment of arms to Sierra Leone has dominated the Sunday newspapers in Britain.

The UK Foreign Minster, Robin Cook, talking to BBC television's Breakfast with Frost programme, said none of the articles contained "a shred of evidence" to back up their claims.

The Sunday Times prints what is calls: "Photographic evidence ... which reveals for the first time proof of official British involvement in the West African coup that is shaking the Foreign Office."

It prints photographs showing what it says are Royal Navy engineers repairing a Russian-built military helicopter used by mercenaries during the fighting.

The Observer newspaper says a second British company was involved in the shipment of arms to Sierra Leone.

It says customs are also now investigating an aircraft operator based in London, which is reported to have flown "30 tons of Bulgarian arms to Sierra Leone via Nigeria last February potentially in breach of United Nations sanctions".

The Observer also reports that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has hired criminal lawyers to represent several high-ranking officials who Sandline claim knew and approved of the delivery.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Mr Cook is at war with senior civil servants over who is to blame for the crisis.

The paper says: "The row reflects the tension and suspicion which has characterised the relationship between Mr Cook and a minority of civil servants at the FCO - traditionally the most conservative of Whitehall departments."

The Mail on Sunday claims an exclusive story under the headline: "Ministers Did Know".

It says: "As both Downing Street and the Foreign Office stonewalled question, defence officials said their ministers had known all along that British mercenaries were involved in the planning and execution of the coup."

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


Link to BBC Homepage

  Relevant Stories

10 May 98 | UK
'I've nothing to hide,' says Cook

10 May 98 | UK
Fresh allegations on arms-to-Africa

10 May 98 | UK
Cook denies new arms-to-Africa allegations

10 May 98 | Despatches
Ambiguities surround arms-to-Africa row

07 May 98 | World
British High Commisioner is a 'hero' in Sierra Leone

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online

UK Contents

Northern Ireland