Kerry urges inquiry into Spicer contract


Democratic presidential candidate Mr John Kerry has called for an investigation into how controversial former British army lieutenant Tim Spicer was awarded a $293 million Iraqi defence contract despite having supported two soldiers convicted of murder in Northern Ireland.

In a strongly worded letter to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Sen Kerry joined four senators, including Ms Hillary Clinton and Mr Ted Kennedy, in calling for a US government investigation into how Mr Spicer won the contract even though he had reportedly been involved in "commanding a murderous military unit in Northern Ireland".

In his autobiography, Mr Spicer justified his troops' actions in shooting dead 18-year-old Peter McBride, who has no paramilitary connections but who ran from a British army checkpoint before he was shot in the back. Two Scots Guards under Mr Spicer's control, Mark Wright and James Fisher, were later convicted of murder.

After a campaign by Mr Spicer and others, the pair were released early and returned to their regiment.

Mr Spicer later joined the arms trade and his company, Sandline, caused significant controversy for the British government in 1998 when it was found to be supplying arms to Sierra Leone in violation of a UN embargo.

The senators call for a review of Mr Spicer's contract, which will give his company, Aegis, $293 million for providing security for the Iraqi government.