UK government under pressure to disclose covert links with KMS

The London Daily News, March 5 1987

The British government faces a barrage of hostile questions over its secret links with the London security company KMS Ltd, which has been accused of running mercenary operations for Whitehall in Central America and Sri Lanka.

Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesman George Foulkes is tabling questions to every Secretary of State in the government and demanding a full statement from Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe. “This is rapidly growing into a major scandal,” he said last night. He added that it could rival the Irangate Affair which has rocked Washington.

His move follows disclosures in the London Daily News about KMS activities. The company, which has an office in Kensington, has been implicated in the Contra Arms scandal in Washington. Security sources say that KMS sent military support to the US-backed Contras in Central America with the knowledge and approval of key of Whitehall figures.

The company has also been running a mercenary operation in Sri Lanka. This too, the sources say, was a government-approved job. Sixty of the mercenaries have now left Sri Lanka after complaining that the local troops they trained carried out a campaign of atrocities against the minority Tamil community.

Mr Foulkes accused the Prime Minister of dodging the issue when she replied to questions he tabled on Monday about her government’s links with the company. Asked why she had held meetings with David Walker, the former SAS major who runs KMS, Mrs Thatcher said she had nothing to add to a previous answer she had given in which she denied that the government had approved the supply of missiles to the Contras by Short Brothers of Belfast.

“It’s an extraordinary answer,” said Mr Foulkes. “No one has ever suggested that Mr Walker ever had anything to do with missiles from Short Brothers. She has totally dodged the question and then made what looks like a Freudian slip and given me a new line of inquiry.”

In another question, Mrs Thatcher was asked which government departments had approved work for KMS. She replied that Downing Street had never hired the company. “That’s not the question I asked her,” said Mr Foulkes. “I am now tabling questions for every secretary of state to find out what they say.”

Finally, Mr Foulkes asked the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, about KMS’s role in providing bodyguards for British diplomats abroad. Sir Geoffrey replied that 44 different companies were employed around the world and added: “It is not our practice to provide details of security arrangements at individual posts”.

On Monday, Mr Foulkes plans to demand a full statement from Sir Geoffey, who has already been tackled on the role of KMS by the Nicaraguan Ambassador in London.

“I am very concerned that the government seems to be developing a covert wing to its foreign policy which is at variance with the public statements of ministers,” Mr Foulkes said. “This has very serious implications. There is a danger of the British Government getting into a situation similar to the Colonel North saga in Washington. This is rapidly growing into a major scandal.”