HC Deb 10 January 1990 vol 164 cc933-4
9. Mr. Archer

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the Iraqi authorities over the arrest and detention of Farzad Bazoft and Daphne Parish.

Mr. Waldegrave

We have made over 40 separate ministeral and diplomatic representations to the Iraqi authorities and Iraqi Ministers on these cases. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State raised the matter with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, on 22 December in Paris. Consular access was finally given to Mrs. Parish on 4 December. She was also seen on 22 December by her daughter, accompanied by embassy officials. The Iraqis have now agreed to Mrs. Parish receiving legal representation. We continue to press for formal notification of any charges against her.

Mr. Archer

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there are disturbing reasons for believing that the purpose of the Iraqi authorities was to prevent Mr. Bazoft, who is a journalist, from investigating the reasons for the explosion at Al Iskanderia, which the Iraqi Government wish to sweep under the table? Will the right hon. Gentleman say what sanctions the Government have in mind if these people are not released?

Mr. Waldegrave

I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that Mr. Bazoft was engaged in attempting to make a journalistic scoop which in our country would have been legitimate even if his methods were dangerous in terms of Iraq. Our duty, first to Mrs. Parish as one of our citizens and to him on humanitarian grounds, because he was travelling on British travel documents, is to see that they are given legal representation and consular access and that the processes of justice are brought to bear as soon as possible. That is the object of our efforts.

Mr. Marlow

I wonder whether it would be helpful to my right hon. Friend to put the matter in the context of 1946. If, after a long and bloody war someone connected with the enemy had been seen or was thought to have been seen spying in a sensitive area, should we have been sensitive about it? Will he also bear in mind the fact that we have important relationships and common purposes with Iraq?

Mr. Waldegrave

Our objective is to see that the two people in question are given legal representation, that charges are brought so that they can answer them and that they are given a fair trial.

I remind my hon. Friend of different traditions in this matter. In 1913 a German naval officer was discovered sketching defences at Portsmouth. He was arrested and bound over to keep the peace for a year.

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