Tim Spicer is no stranger to the use of lawyers to try to silence criticism of him. The following is an extract from the Irish Echo:
Spicer threatens to sue Echo, MP
By Ray O’Hanlon, Irish Echo, May 25-31, 2005
Controversial former British army officer, Tim Spicer, is this week threatening to sue the Irish Echo and a member of the British parliament in the London High Court. The threat of libel action is contained in solicitors’ letters sent to the Echo and to MP Sarah Teather.
The legal letters follow in the wake of a recent report in the Echo that pointed to U.S. criticism of the manner in which a Spicer-owned private security company has been operating in Iraq. Spicer’s company, Aegis Defense Services, was last year granted a $293 million contract by the Pentagon for security and reconstruction work in Iraq.
However, a strongly critical report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction recently cited Aegis for not complying with a number of requirements contained in the contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. The contract has sparked controversy in Ireland, Britain and the U.S. because of Spicer’s past record in Northern Ireland where he commanded the Scots Guards regiment during a tour of duty in the early 1990s.
Soldiers in that regiment shot and killed Belfast teenager Peter McBride in September of 1992. Spicer subsequently defended the actions of his men. Two members of the regiment were tried for murder, convicted and sentenced to life. However, they were released after six years and reinstated in the unit. In a letter to the Pentagon several months ago, the Derry-based Pat Finucane Center pressed the U.S. army to justify its decision to award the Iraq contract to Aegis Defense Services, of which Spicer is CEO.
The Pentagon has also been pressed on the issue by a group of U.S. senators, Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus, and Teather, a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Commons. It was a line in a recent Echo report that prompted legal letters sent to both Teather, the member of Parliament for the Brent East constituency in London, and this newspaper.In its May 4-10 issue, the Echo, in a story headlined “Spicer speared in scathing U.S. report,” reported Teather’s view that “serious questions” still required answering in the McBride case.
However, it was the Echo’s precise wording of this aspect of the Spicer/Aegis story that prompted the legal letters to the Echo and Teather.
The report stated: “Teather recently told the Echo that ‘serious questions’ were still in need of answers with regard to Spicer and his role in the death of Peter McBride.”
The letter sent to the Echo alleged that this statement, made with regard to “Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer OBE,” was “seriously defamatory of him.”
The best collected source of information about Spicer is the Pat Finucane Centre. There is a very good resource here:
Among the incidents I cover in my new book are the murder of Peter McBride, the Aegis Trophy Video, the Papua New Guinea coup, the Equatorial Guinea plot, Executive Outcomes’ muder of civilians in Angola and the Arms to Africa affair. I do hope that other bloggers will generate another Streisand effect through blogging on these subjects.