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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 18:11 GMT
MP's secret mission to 'Dr Germ'
Dr Rihab Rashid Taha - known as Dr Germ
Dr Rihab Taha studied at the University of East Anglia
An MP has revealed how UK security services recruited him to question a top Iraqi scientist known as "Dr Germ" in the run up to the Iraq war.

Former scientist Dr Ian Gibson, Norwich North MP, said he was flown to a secret location, most likely in the Middle East, to meet Rihab Taha in early 2003.

Dr Taha studied biology at the University of East Anglia (UEA) when Dr Gibson was head of department.

The MP said he was asked to find out what she knew about Iraqi germ warfare.

Dr Taha, one of the most senior women in the former Iraqi regime, featured on the US-led coalition's list of most wanted officials and was arrested in November 2003 but freed without charge in December last year.

Banned weapons

Dr Gibson taught Dr Taha in the early 1980s when he was a senior biological scientist at the UEA, where she was working on a doctorate in plant pathogens.

She was later accused by the US administration of involvement in Saddam Hussein's banned weapons programme.

Dr Gibson, 67, said that in early 2003 he was asked by the British security services to speak to Dr Taha, with whom they had made contact, to find out if she was involved in developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

"I guess the government was wanting to get as much evidence as it could," he said.

They did not tell him where they were taking him.

Ian Gibson
Dr Ian Gibson is the Labour MP for Norwich North

"It was like one of these secret bus trips to Sheringham or somewhere, you didn't know where it was. It did look like the Middle East. It wasn't Brussels," he said.

He said she told him that Iraq no longer had WMD. "I believed her," he added.

When Dr Gibson asked if she was working on biological warfare she said Iraq had stopped work on this some time ago.

Dr Gibson said he found it odd that a figure wanted by the US authorities was in contact with British Intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. "It's a strange world," he said.

He said the trip had not changed his view on the war which he had always felt was not justified.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said it could not comment on security matters.

US welcomes 'Dr Germ' capture
13 May 03 |  Middle East

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