The National - News
UK admits to Kuwait invasion warning failure
The UK apologised after admitting that it failed to warn British Airways that Saddam Hussein’s forces had invaded Kuwait as one of its airliners was scheduled to land there.
Flight BA149 landed in Kuwait on August 2, 1990, with 367 passengers on board.
Travellers were held for up to five months, then released.
Sir Michael Weston, Britain’s ambassador to Kuwait in 1990, told the Foreign Office at about midnight that Iraqi troops had entered Kuwait, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said yesterday.
The warning was passed to the prime minister’s office and intelligence officials but not to the airline.
“This failure was unacceptable,” Ms Truss said.
“I apologise to the House [of Commons] for this and I express my deepest sympathy to those who were mistreated.”
Parliamentary records showed that prime minister Margaret Thatcher told MPs in September 1990 that all the passengers had left the plane and gone to hotels before the invasion started.
Ms Truss said that files sent to the National Archive were consistent with a statement in 2007 that “the government at the time did not attempt in any way to exploit the flight by any means whatever”.
Stephen Davis, who wrote a book about the event, Operation Trojan Horse, and the presence of special forces on BA149 bound for Malaysia, said the hostages were still searching for the truth as the latest statement showed that Thatcher, who died in 2013, had lied.
“It is a shame the government has chosen to repeat their 2007 non-denial denial of the mission with its strange use of the word ‘exploit’,” he said.
“I have 16 named and unnamed sources confirming that there was a secret mission on BA149.”