Spicer contract approved as mercenary links revealed

Posted By: March 29, 2013

by Tom Griffin, 8 October 2004
Irish World

The controversial £293 Iraq security contract awarded to former British Officer Lt Col Tim Spicer by the US Defence Department is set to go ahead following an official investigation.
Irish-Americans have demanded that the contract be blocked because of Spicer’s role as commander of the Scots Guards in Belfast in 1992, when 18-year-old Peter McBride was shot dead by two soldiers who were subsequently convicted of murder but freed early after a campaign in which Lt Col Spicer was heavily involved.
The Aegis deal has also been opposed by rival US security companies, and was formally suspended while the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) considered a protest by Texas-based Dyncorp International.
Dyncorp “contends that Aegis lacked the requisite responsibility to perform this contract due, in part, to certain alleged activities of Aegis’ principal director and largest shareholder,” the GAO said in a ruling last month.
The GAO revealed that an un-named third bidder had been rated higher than Aegis or Dyncorp but had sought $462 million for the contract.
As a result, the GAO decided that Dyncorp would not have won the contract even if Aegis had been rejected. It ruled therefore that Dyncorp had no standing to challenge the contract.
“With respect to the remaining two areas of DynCorp’s protest – its challenge to the evaluation of Aegis’ proposal, and its allegation that Aegis is not a responsible contractor – we find that DynCorp is not an interested party to raise either issue.”
Washington-based lobby group the Irish National Caucus (INC) pledged to continue its campaign against the contract.
“I was not placing my faith in the GAO,” INC President Fr Sean McManus said. “Rather, I am basing my faith on the political opposition to the contract that we are mounting. I am hoping, also, that President Bush will show some basic decency – and some sensitivity to the feelings of Irish-Americans – and do the right thing and cancel this outrageous contract.”
The INC campaign has received support from senators including presidential candidate John Kerry, Hilary Clinton and Edward Kennedy.
Fr McManus has also been contacted by a South African doctor and journalist, Dr Alexander Von Paleske, with details of Lt Col Spicer’s links in the African mercenary world.
“Timothy Spicer had not only a shameful past in Northern Ireland,” Dr Von Paleske said. “He belonged also to a mercenary group comprising Anthony Buckingham, Simon Mann (now imprisoned in Zimbabwe in connection with the planned coup in Equatorial Guinea) and Michael Grunberg.”
Spicer was chief executive of mercenary company Sandline from 1996 to 2000. However journalist Michael Bilton testified before parliament in 2002 that the man ‘in the driving seat’ at the company was oil entrepreneur Anthony Buckingham.
Buckingham is alleged to have been the only British businessman in a 1995 delegation to Iraq to discuss oil deals with Saddam Hussein. Members of the delegation stayed at the Al Rasheed Hotel where the floor was decorated with a picture of the elder George Bush, intended as a calculated insult to the former US president.
Ironically, Buckingham’s company Heritage Oil has co-sponsored training for Iraqi oil ministry officials in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s fall.
In its latest quarterly report the company said the training programme had “cemented ties with Iraq’s Ministry of Oil and is the first of its long term commitments to the country.”
Perhaps the greatest concerns centre on Sanjivan Ruprah, former chief executive of Branch Energy, a company founded by Buckingham.
“Ruprah, who was arrested in 2002 in Belgium, was one of the worst international gun runners and close associate of Viktor Bout, who supplied weapons to the Taleban and Al Qaeda. Both are on a UN security council travel ban list,” Dr Von Paleske said.
“Spicer’s activities in Sierra Leone (the arms to Africa affair) are well documented, as well as the involvement in Papua New Guinea. To give [a contract to] this man, Spicer, whose gang boss had contacts to Saddam Hussein and links to weapons suppliers to Al Qaeda, and who was shamefully trying to protect British soldiers who killed an innocent Irish man, is an absolute scandal.”