Britain has secretly honoured a raft of senior US military and business
figures in the past three years, it emerged last night. The recipients
include General Tommy Franks, the man responsible for the "Shock and Awe
" Iraq war attack plan, and Riley Bechtel, head of the Bechtel
Mr Bechtel, the billionaire head of the US-based engineering giant, was
handed a CBE for "services to UK-American commercial relations" in
2003, according to information obtained by The Observer. He is a likely
bidder for future nuclear plants in the UK and has made hundreds of millions
of dollars in reconstruction projects in Iraq. Others honoured include
several senior US military figures, among them Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating,
the man in charge of maritime forces during the Iraq invasion, and Rear
Admiral Barry Costello, commander of the Third Fleet and Task Force 55.
Releasing the information in a parliamentary answer, the Foreign Secretary,
Margaret Beckett, said: "Awards to citizens where Her Majesty the Queen
is not head of state are not formally announced." The Government last
night denied claims that it had made a secret of the honours, but a Foreign
Office spokeswoman accepted they might not have been "pro-actively"
publicised at the request of the recipients.
Opposition MPs suspect the awards were kept quiet to avoid awkward
questions. Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP who helped unearth the full
list of foreign honour recipients, said: "These awards are supposed to
be for good works and those who have helped Britain. Instead it seems they
are being handed out to those that have supported [Tony] Blair's misguided
The revelation comes after a row over the award in the Queen's Birthday
Honours of a CBE for the police chief under investigation by the inquiry
into the Stockwell shooting. Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman received the
award despite facing a disciplinary charge as a result of the Independent
Police Complaints Commission inquiry.
The allegations against the police chief are said to relate to a briefing he
gave journalists in the afternoon after the Stockwell shooting last July
about the dead man's identity and links to terror groups.
Mr Hayman, who heads the Met's anti-terror operations, was also in command
of the bungled Forest Gate raid two weeks ago, in which a man was shot and
injured before being released without charge.
Muslim leaders say the honour could inflame community tensions in the
aftermath of the London raid, for which Mr Hayman was forced to apologise.
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited