Socialist Worker

Diplomat reveals Kuwait flight cover-up 30 years on

Issue No. 2767

British airways flight 149

British Airways flight 149


A former British diplomat has said he is “convinced” there was “military intelligence exploitation” of a British Airways flight that landed in Kuwait during the Iraqi army’s 1990 invasion, which led to the capture and mistreatment of nearly everyone on board,

Anthony Paice, who was a political intelligence officer at the British embassy in Kuwait City at the time of the invasion in August 1990, made his statement to coincide with a book about the incident.

Author Stephen Davis describes the denials around the flight as “the biggest cover-up of the last 30 years”.

There have long been reports that ten British special forces soldiers joined BA flight 149 just before its departure from London Heathrow on 1 August 1990.

Some have speculated that the ­imperative to deliver the men made the British government determined the flight should stop in Kuwait, despite concerns about an imminent Iraqi invasion.

Paice said in a statement that his ­obligations under the Official Secrets Act had prevented his speaking out against the “false accusations and injustices” suffered by the incident’s ­“involuntary victims”.

However, he considered it was “now time to do so”. “I am now in a position to confirm that the military intelligence exploitation of BA149 did take place, despite repeated official denials by the Ministry of Defence since 1991,”

Paice said. “I know that it was a hasty and misguidedly prepared attempt to put intelligence boots on the ground.”

Clive Earthy, chief purser on the flight, described recently how on arrival in Kuwait he was greeted by a man ­wearing a military uniform who said he had come to collect some of the passengers.

He left with a group of ­military‑­looking men who had come on board at the last minute.

The airport was seized by the ­invading Iraqi army while the flight was on the ground and all the passengers and crew, barring the roughly 30 who had been booked to leave the flight at Kuwait, were detained.

They were later used as “human shields”—civilians placed in strategic locations to discourage military action by Western governments.


Still plenty of profit in oil for shareholders

As the price of petrol for cars soars, BP last week became the latest energy group to raise its dividend to shareholders. It also announced a £1 billion buyback programme that will boost share values.

Bernard Looney, chief executive, said the company was raising its dividend by 4 percent and would have the “capacity” to increase it by a similar amount each year to 2025.

He told the Financial Times newspaper that if oil prices remain above £45 a barrel share buybacks could be increased even further.

Looney said, “The aim is to return 60 percent of excess of cash, so if oil prices are stronger shareholders will benefit massively.”

Royal Dutch Shell and Italy’s Eni recently increased their dividends and joined other companies, including France’s Total, in launching share buyback programmes.


NHS boss’s role in Greensill scandal

David Prior, Baron Prior of Brampton, has kept a low profile as chairman of NHS England.

Now emails reveal just how close he was to the Greensill Capital scandal.

On 21 March last year, less than 48 hours before Britain went into lockdown, Prior was busy speaking to company boss Lex Greensill.

Greensill was lobbying—successfully—to introduce a controversial payday scheme in hospitals.

At 7.48pm, Lex Greensill wrote an email thanking Prior profusely for “agreeing to take a call” from one official anxious about “our bona fides and ... what we are doing for the NHS”.

At 10pm the NHS chairman responded obligingly. In an email with the subject line “Greensill reference”, he wrote, “Happy to take a call.”

Asked when he might be available, Prior said, in essence, whenever— “Now or next 30 mins ... otherwise give me a time and I’ll fit it in.”

On one occasion, he wrote to a colleague saying he was “just wondering” how things were going with Greensill—just three hours after Greensill had written to him asking for help.

Grensill didn’t need to pay David Cameron after all.


Michael O’Leary is in sight of landing an £85 million payday despite Ryanair racking up huge losses during the pandemic.

The airline’s chief executive is entitled to a bonus of 10 million shares if the company’s stock hits a price target between 2021 and 2024.

Ryanair shares have almost doubled since the pandemic hit in March 2020 and are now hovering near all-time highs.

This is despite the airline racking up nearly £1 billion in losses over the last 15 months.


THE life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest in Glasgow is bigger now than it was 20 years ago, a major new study by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health shows. According to the latest data from 2019, men in Greater Govan can expect to reach an average age of 65.4 years, compared with 83 in Pollokshields West. That’s a gap of 17.6 years. The equivalent gap in 2001-05 was 15.3 years.


Drug dealer Pfizer slammed for high prices and then raises the price of Covid vaccine

Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Flynn have been accused by the British competition watchdog of illegally overcharging the NHS for vital anti-epilepsy drugs by abusing their dominance in the market to raise prices overnight.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has confirmed its 2016 finding that the pair exploited a loophole to charge unfairly high prices for phenytoin sodium capsules. They de‑branded the drug, known as Epanutin, in 2012 so it would not face price regulation.

The cost of patent protected drugs is controlled by caps that restrict how much profit a company is allowed to make.

Unbranded drugs do not face the same restrictions because, in theory, the competition between rival unbranded generic products should keep prices down.

By de-branding, drug companies producing medicines with limited competition can sidestep the controls and demand steep price hikes.

lPfizer has raised the price of its Covid vaccine by more than a quarter and Moderna by more than a tenth in the latest European Union supply contracts.

The groups are set to generate tens of billions of pounds in revenue this year. They are signing new deals with countries anxious to secure supplies for potential booster shots in the face of the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. The new price for a Pfizer shot was £16.50 against £13.15 previously, according to portions of the contracts seen by the Financial Times newspaper.

The price of a Moderna jab was £18.38 a dose, up from £16.20.

Pfizer last week raised its guidance for annual vaccine revenue by nearly a third to £24.25 billion after sales of the shot helped almost double sales in the second quarter of 2021.

Pfizer, which shares profits with its German partner BioNTech, expects to raise prices even further after the pandemic is declared over.


Things they say

‘Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether’

Boris Johnson in Scotland ‘jokes’ at his predecessor’s destruction of the mining industry

‘The IPCC report shows that the lights are flashing red on the climate dashboard’

Climate minister Alok Sharma who travelled by air to 30 countries in seven months

‘What we strongly believe in as a centre right government is free markets, enterprise and entrepreneurs’

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng makes clear the Tories’ guiding principles after the pandemic


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