Jacques Chirac was bribed by Saddam Hussein, former MI6 head claims

Head of British intelligence agency claims former French president was a ‘rogue’

A worker sets up a giant portrait of late former French President Jacques Chirac on the french riviera city of Nice, on September 27, 2019 one day after the announcement of Chirac's death at the age of 86. AFP / VALERY HACHE
A worker sets up a giant portrait of late former French President Jacques Chirac on the french riviera city of Nice, on September 27, 2019 one day after the announcement of Chirac's death at the age of 86. AFP / VALERY HACHE

Jacques Chirac, the former French president who died last week, was a "rogue" who accepted briefcases of money from Saddam Hussein, the former head of MI6 has claimed.

Sir Richard Dearlove said that when he was in charge “there were indications that Chirac had received funding from Hussein”.

Mr Dearlove said the former Iraqi president had given “cash in a briefcase” for Chirac’s successful French presidential campaigns in 1995 and 2002.

“He was a rogue,” he told the Cliveden Literary Festival in south east England. “Or, let’s say, he had roguish characteristics.”

Mr Dearlove said British and French intelligence officials had agreed that Iraq was trying to secretly buy "yellowcake", the substance from which uranium is refined, from mines in Guinea owned by a French nuclear company.

He said that several weeks later, a senior French intelligence official contacted him to say: "we do not want you to use the material [on the uranium]."

“This was very peculiar indeed,” Mr Dearlove said. “Subsequently it became clear when the Iraq situation evolved that the French were not keen [on supporting the US and UK at the UN].”

The former MI6 head said that evidence emerged of Chirac’s briefcase payments about the same time, making American and British intelligence officials suspicious of the former French leader’s motives.

Mr Dearlove told the Daily Mail said that Chirac was bribed millions to publicly oppose the US-Iraq war.

“His recent obituaries are saying that Chirac got it right on Iran and the rest of us got it wrong," he said.

"But I am saying that Chirac’s motive for getting it right may not appear to be what it was."

This is not the first time that the late French president has been embroiled in controversy around Hussein. Chirac called Saddam “a personal friend” in the 1970s, when he was president.

And after receiving an invitation from Saddam to visit Baghdad in 1975, Iraq approved a deal granting French oil companies privileges plus a 23 per cent share of Iraqi oil.

As part of the agreement, France sold Iraq the Osirak MTR reactor to allow it to test nuclear material.

Meanwhile, in France today, hundreds gathered in the Les Invalides in Paris to see the late leader’s coffin.

A flood of tributes followed Chirac's passing last Thursday, with many remembering him as a charismatic, yet polarising political figure domestically and internationally.

Chirac’s memorial service will be held in Saint-Sulpice church on Monday before his body is buried in Montparnasse cemetery in Paris.

Published: September 30, 2019 02:09 AM

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