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Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 15:20 GMT

UK Politics

Minister reveals SAS scandal

The SAS was on a secret mission at the time of the allegations

Four members of the elite SAS were disciplined over allegations of fraud during a top secret mission in the Middle East, the government has revealed.

A Labour backbencher has pledged to expose more details of the Firqat affair, which has been branded "one of the biggest military cover-ups in British history".

The scandal was revealed by Armed Forces minister Doug Henderson who admitted four troopers were reprimanded over the incident.

Call for more details

[ image: Doug Henderson: Confirmed action had been taken]
Doug Henderson: Confirmed action had been taken
The four men are alleged to have made thousands of pounds in a payroll scam while on a mission to protect the Sultan of Oman.

Mr Henderson said: "The events in question took place almost 25 years ago and official records on the matter are incomplete.

"However, I understand that the regiment dealt with the matter at the time and that disciplinary action, where appropriate, was taken."

But Labour MP Harry Cohen has taken up the case and wants more details to be made public.

Mr Cohen told BBC News Online: "I am going to write to the minister.

"I know it has nothing to do with him but I think we should have a proper explanation."

The MP, who sits on the defence select committee believes the issue is still relevant today.

'Not acceptable'

He said: "It is something that should be made clear.

"It still has implications for today. We are still in countries like Oman and several other oil producing countries. It is not acceptable."

Former SAS soldier Barry Davies claimed in The Complete Encyclopaedia of the SAS that members of the regiment defrauded the Sultan of money he provided to recruit local militia to protect him after he took power in a bloodless coup in 1970.

The spoils were divided up between members of the SAS unit, whose "politically sensitive" role in Oman was kept secret at the time by the Ministry of Defence.

A retired corporal - who was ordered to pay back £2,500 after the scandal was exposed - reportedly said: "I guess we will never know who really blabbed but it caused one hell of a rumpus in Whitehall because the regiment did have enemies who wanted all of us thrown to the wolves."

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