Saddam Hussein ‘bribed Jacques Chirac’ with £5million in bid to make the former French President oppose the US-led Iraq war
- Britain’s former spy chief alleged Jacques Chirac, 86, was paid millions in bribes
- Sir Richard Dearlove said ‘strong indications.. he received money from Saddam’
- Former French President Chirac died on Thursday and had opposed the Iraq war
- Led alliance with Germany and Russia against plans by US and Britain to invade
Jacques Chirac (pictured) was paid millions of pounds in bribes by Saddam Hussein to oppose the US-led war in Iraq, according to Britain’s former spy chief
Jacques Chirac was paid millions of pounds in bribes by Saddam Hussein to oppose the US-led war in Iraq, according to intelligence revealed for the first time by Britain’s former spy chief.
Sir Richard Dearlove – head of MI6 in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – spoke out as recent obituaries for the former French President cited his principled opposition to US President George Bush’s plans for military action.
But the former spymaster, speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, revealed that Chirac’s true motive for opposing the Gulf War was because he accepted ‘substantial amounts’ of cash from the Iraqi tyrant for his election campaigns.
Sir Richard, who made the sensational revelation only days after the French statesman’s death on Thursday aged 86, said: ‘There were strong indications in the US and UK [intelligence services] that Chirac received money from Saddam.
‘His recent obituaries are saying that Chirac got it right [on Iraq] and the rest of us got it wrong. But I am saying that Chirac’s motive for getting it right may not appear to be what it is.’
Chirac had led an alliance of France, Germany and Russia against plans by the US and Britain to invade Iraq over suspicions that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, which it would pass on to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.
Sir Richard Dearlove said there had been ‘strong indications in the US and UK [intelligence services] that Chirac received money from Saddam’. French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, left, is seen with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, right, after arriving in Bagdad in 1976
The French President addressed his nation on television to declare that he would use France’s veto at the UN to prevent George Bush and Tony Blair gaining a resolution that sanctioned a military invasion.
Chirac’s anti-war stance caused a massive rift between France and the US, prompting American media to deride the French as ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ and some restaurants to rename French fries as ‘Freedom fries’.
While the US and Britain went to war with Iraq without a UN resolution, France stayed out of the coalition.
At the time, MI6 and its US counterparts were gathering ‘reliable intelligence’ that Chirac had pocketed £5 million from the Iraqi dictator to fight his presidential elections in 1995 and in 2002.
The money came from Saddam’s own personal funds and was passed to Chirac through intermediaries, according to the intelligence.
Sir Richard told this newspaper that the ‘long relationship’ between Chirac and Saddam was the real reason why the French leader opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Former French President Jacques Chirac (pictured in 2007) died at the age of 86 ‘surrounded by his family’, according to his son in law. During his time in office Chirac had led an alliance of France, Germany and Russia against plans by the US and Britain to invade Iraq
‘He [Chirac] had this questionable relationship with Saddam Hussein,’ said Sir Richard. ‘It raises a lot of questions as to what his motives were for opposing the UN Resolution in the build-up to the invasion.’
He added: ‘It was not a matter of conscience, it was his [Chirac’s] reputation. If it came out in the wash [that he received money from Saddam], it would have been damaging to him as a politician.
‘It was a dimension which at the time was politically worrying – Chirac had a longstanding relationship with Saddam, which was not state to state, it was personal.’
Sir Richard said obituaries on Chirac praised the former leader’s stance without knowing the full facts. He went on: ‘He was a roguish individual who manoeuvred very cleverly.’
The former spymaster, known as ‘C’ during his five-year spell as head of MI6, is due to give further details at the Cliveden Literary Festival later today.
Last night, France’s embassy in London declined to comment on the revelations, but spokeswoman Aurelie Bonal said: ‘History has shown who took the right decision.’
Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said: ‘Regardless of personal reasons, Chirac would have opposed the war because the French public opposed it so vehemently.’