Sarah Teather, the member of parliament for the Brent East constituency in London, has written to the U.S. Embassy in London asking that it intercede with the Pentagon over the controversial deal for private security service in Iraq awarded former British army officer Tim Spicer.
Teather, a member of the Liberal Democrats, intervened in the case after a letter to the Pentagon from the Pat Finucane Center in Derry went unanswered.
The letter was written on behalf of Jean McBride, mother of Peter McBride, who was shot dead by soldiers of the Scots Guards regiment in Belfast in September, 1992.
The regiment was commanded by Spicer at that time and he subsequently defended the shooting.
The center is pressing the U.S. Army to justify its decision to award Aegis Defense Services, of which Spicer is CEO, a $293 million contract for private security work in Iraq.
And it is linking its appeal to the still-disputed killing of McBride, who was unarmed and shot in the back.
The center wrote the Pentagon on behalf of Jean McBride weeks ago but has not yet received a reply. It is this lack of a response that prompted Teather, whose constituency covers some of London’s most famous Irish immigrant neighborhoods, to write her own letter. Teather told the Echo last week that she felt the Pentagon had been “very discourteous” in not quickly replying to the Finucane Centre letter.
She herself had filed her letter with the U.S. Embassy in London on Jan. 20 and was now, like the center and Jean McBride, anxiously awaiting a reply. Teather said that if she did not hear back from the Pentagon by this week she would write another, more strongly worded, letter.
“And I will expect a reply. I will continue to pursue this,” Teather said.
Teather said that “serious questions” were still in need of answers with regard to Spicer and his role in the death of Peter McBride.
“The Pentagon has a duty to respond to this family, and the fact that they have not done so yet is simply not adequate,” she said. “This is a very sorry affair.”
The unanswered PFC letter argued that in addition to the questions surrounding the Aegis contract, a previous company of which Spicer was CEO, Sandline International, was “involved in major violations of international and British law and has been the subject of international and British investigations.”
Spicer’s actions, both as an officer in the British army and as CEO of Sandline, the PFC argued, had a bearing on Spicer’s record of integrity and business ethics, both of which had to be above reproach according to the U.S. Army’s own standards.
The letter asked the Pentagon to “review” the $293 million contract awarded Aegis and Spicer, who has variously been referred to in British press reports as Britain’s “most notorious mercenary” and “soldier of fortune.”