Stephen Crouch

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Stephen Crouch is chairman of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Conservative Association and lives in Redberth, near Tenby. The website of local Conservative MP Simon Hart states: " A veteran of a number of Conservative Westminster campaigns around the UK, Stephen is currently working in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq as an advisor to governmental, non-governmental, and economic institutions."[1]

Corporate filings suggest Crouch's full name is Stephen Crouch Plantard De Saint Clair."[2]

Kurdistan

Crouch worked in Iraqi Kurdistan in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, according to the Observer:

"The winter program is happening too late," said Stephen Crouch, British coordinator of the high-profile, low-budget Kurdish Reconstruction Organization. "Commitments should have been made at least six weeks ago. Then, by December, we could have turned our attention to agriculture."[3]

Ian Black writes of this period that Crouch was "involved with Kurdish groups fighting Saddam Hussein":

Mr Crouch is dogged by controversy: he fell out with Kurdish leaders while working with the Kurdish Reconstruction Office in 1991 and is remembered, without any obvious affection, as a sort of "Lawrence of Kurdistan". He says he was an "independent consultant" working for a "private security company" but denies suggestions that he passed himself off as a British official. The Foreign Office insists he has nothing to do with them or the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
He has been linked with the government of Kuwait - but refuses to discuss this or his relations with Iraq, though he boasts of close acquaintance with the British-educated deputy foreign minister, Riyad al-Qaysi.[4]

Iraqi British Interests Group

By 1994, Crouch was Director General of the Iraqi British Interests Group (IBI), a lobbying group with links with senior Conservative MPs. The Guardian reported:

The two MPs said to be advising the lobby group are Henry Bellingham, the parliamentary private secretary to Mr Rifkind, and Michael Colvin, chairman of the backbench Conservative Foreign Affairs Committee. Neither MP makes any reference to connections with IBI in the updated version of the Register of Members' Interests, but are not required to do so if their advice has been unpaid.
The secretary to the IBI, Edmund Sykes, is quoted in today's Financial Times as saying: "They have advised us on who to speak to in Whitehall if we want to seek advice on how to avoid breaking UN sanctions, how would we do so.".
Earlier this year, Mr Bellingham travelled to Jordan with Stephen Crouch, the IBI's director general, and on September 3 in Amman had an informal meeting with a senior official from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.
Mr Bellingham has said he paid for the visit himself, had not expected to meet the Iraqi official and had informed both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office of the meeting. He insisted last night that he only had irregular contacts with IBI.[5]

Crouch told a London meeting on 23 January 1995 that British business was losing out because of the British government's strict interpretation of sanctions.[6]

The Guardian reported a few days later on the desire of British exporters to return to Iraq:

Iraq used to be a good market for Britain and its army still has a distinct Sandhurst polish to it. "Iraqis remember us as the people who pushed out the Turks," says Stephen Crouch, director-general of the IBI. "Most of their doctors went to university here. Many of their engineers studied here. They are firmly locked into our system. We want to maintain as much as we had in the past."[7]

Ian Black's report continued:

At last week's presentation, Barbara Stapleton, author of a report on the oppression of the country's Shia Muslims, angrily accused businessmen of "seeking opportunities with a genocidal regime". Iraqi opposition groups are equally scathing.
Ms Stapleton's outburst was provoked by Mr Crouch's distinction between the Iraqi "state" and a "regime" which brands the foreheads of deserters and publicly amputates the hands and ears of thieves.[8]

Among those suspicious of Crouch's activities were the Iraqi National Congress:

"Crouch is acting as a middleman for businessmen who are trying to rehabilitate Saddam's regime," complains one activist. "Once you start dealing with them and pursuing contracts you are saying they are going to be around to implement those contracts so you are giving legitimacy to the regime."
Latif Rashid, vice president of the INC, says: "These British firms are making a grave mistake. This will not help the Iraqi people - their suffering will be prolonged."[9]

Crouch organised a British delegation to Iraq in mid February 1995. One account described him as "a representative of the British-Middle East Interests Group, a London-based services company".[10] The visit caused embarrassment to the government in 1995, when this colleague Edmund Sykes called for an easing of sanctions.[11] Crouch and Sykes, IBI's secretary, reportedly were reportedly investigated by the Department for Trade and Industry for failing to obtain a communication license to discuss trade.[12]

Sykes said of the visit, "The British Government is well aware of the trip to Iraq".[13]

Later that month, Crouch opened a new office in Amman, Jordan, as director-general of the British-Middle East Interest Group, having resigned from the Iraq-British Interest Group to lead the new organisation.[14]

Northern Iraq Medical Project

MP Emma Nicholson referred to Crouch in the following parliamentary question which was answered on 10 May 1995:

Northern Iraq
Miss Emma Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what monitoring was carried out of the expenditure of Overseas Development Administration assistance through Cornish-Kurdish Medical Aid and its temporary agent Mr. Stephen Crouch for a medical project in northern Iraq;
(2) if he will seek a report on the expenditure of the funds made available to Cornish-Kurdish Medical Aid for a medical project in northern Iraq.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 28 April 1995]: In June 1991 ODA made a payment of £12,855 to Cornwall Kurdish Medical Aid. This reimbursed against detailed documentation the cost of medical supplies and personal effects for 17 volunteers provided by the non-governmental organisation as part of the 165-member ODA team in northern Iraq at that time.
Miss Emma Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring was carried out of the expenditure of Overseas Development Administrator's assistance by the Kurdish Relief Organisation and its associate Mr. Stephen Crouch for a medical project in northern Iraq. [21707]
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 28 April 1995]: Physical monitoring of ODA assistance to Kurdish relief agencies in northern Iraq in 1991 and 1992 was carried out by visits from British embassy officials based in Ankara. In addition, the agencies submitted written reports to the ODA.[15]

Tony Buckingham donation

In 2010, Crouch secured a 5,000 donation to Hart from mercenary boss Tony Buckingham, according to This is South Wales:

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Tory MP Simon Hart said the donation had come through the constituency's former chairman Stephen Crouch, who was not available for comment.
The MP said he did not know Mr Buckingham personally but the party's safeguards were a sufficient enough check on donors.[16]

Iraq Research Group

Crouch reportedly runs an organisation called the Iraq Research Group (IRG).[17]

An Arabic language page on the website of the Iraqi British Chamber of Commerce and Industry lists Crouch, Rupert Bowen and Julian Waiker (presumably a typo for Julian Walker) as affiliated with IRG.[18]

The Cabinet Secretary's report on the Adam Werritty affair lists IRG as one of six donors to Werritty's vehicle, Pargav.[19] In an interview with the Guardian, Crouch denied IRG was acting on behalf of defence interests in funding Werritty:

He said of IRG: "We are privately funded, but I can't go into that … I've been forbidden to speak to the press."
Crouch denied being a "donor" as a report by the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, had described him. Instead, he said IRG had paid Werritty a "flat fee" after Crouch met him socially, in the hope that Werritty could provide introductions to British energy companies.[20]

According to the Guardian, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox arranged for Werritty and Crouch to meet the minister responsible for the arms trade, Gerald Howarth on 27 September 2011.[21]

Affiliations

External Resources

Notes

  1. Team Members, Simon Hart MP, accessed 19 October 2011.
  2. B D G MANAGEMENT LIMITED, Dellam corporate Information Ltd, accessed 22 October 2011.
  3. Julie Flint, For Kurds, Winter Killing Season Approaches, The Observer, syndicated at the Seattle Times, 6 October 1991.
  4. Ian Black, ENIGMA THEY KNOW AS 'LAWRENCE OF KURDISTAN', The Guardian, 4 January 1995.
  5. Patrick Wintour and Ian Black, TORIES 'ADVISING IRAQ LOBBY GROUP', The Guardian, 25 November 1994.
  6. Iraq, Middle East Economic Digest, 3 February 1995.
  7. Ian Black, Losing out in battle for Iraq, The Guardian, 4 February 1995.
  8. Ian Black, Losing out in battle for Iraq, The Guardian, 4 February 1995.
  9. Ian Black, ENIGMA THEY KNOW AS 'LAWRENCE OF KURDISTAN', The Guardian, 4 January 1995.
  10. James Halaby, British Trade Team Visiting Iraq, Associated Press, 17 February 1995.
  11. Michael Sheridan, Red faces over Iraq comment, Independent, 22 February 1995.
  12. Lobbyists probed over Iraq contacts: FT, Agence France Presse, 21 February 1995.
  13. Michael Dynes and James Bone, Iraq visit organisers deny UN sanctions breach, The Times, 22 February 1995.
  14. Sana Atiyeh, British group opens Jordan office, United Press International, 27 February 1995.
  15. House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 May 1995, www.parliament.uk, accessed 20 October 2011.
  16. Alex Smith, Ex-mercenary force boss gives to Tories, This is South Wales, 27 August 2010.
  17. Rupert Neate, Rajeev Syal and David Leigh, Cameron under pressure to renew investigation into Adam Werritty, guardian.co.uk, 26 October 2011.
  18. http://www.i-bcci.com/site_ar/membership1.html, Iraqi British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, accessed 20 October 2011.
  19. Gus O'Donnell, Allegations against Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, Cabinet Office, 18 October 2011, pp.5-6.
  20. Rupert Neate, Rajeev Syal and David Leigh, Cameron under pressure to renew investigation into Adam Werritty, guardian.co.uk, 26 October 2011.
  21. Rupert Neate, Rajeev Syal and David Leigh, Cameron under pressure to renew investigation into Adam Werritty, guardian.co.uk, 26 October 2011.
  22. Current Management, SACOR3D, accessed 20 October 2011.