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Cook fights for political life.

FOREIGN Secretary Robin Cook and his junior Minister Tony Lloyd fight for their political survival in a crucial debate over the arms to Sierra Leone affair.

Both men are facing allegations that they have misled the House of Commons over the affair and have no grip on their department or officials.

The Opposition debate tomorrow further fuels fears that the crisis over the Sierra Leone coup is careering out of control - with Ministers and officials appearing to contradict each other. It follows Tony Blair's failure to calm the affair by declaring " the good guys won" - while the Foreign Office's top mandarin, Sir John Kerr, was forced to retract damning evidence he had given to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

Mr Lloyd, the Foreign Office Minister, comes under personal attack today over failing to answer a crucial question which could establish whether he knew the procurement compSandline were plotting a coup against the illegal military regime that had seized power from President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

Shadow Foreign Minister David Faber accused Mr Lloyd of ducking a question he asked about whether the procurement company Sandline had been mentioned in his talks with Sir John Kerr at a meeting on March 19 called to discuss human rights in Nigeria and S ierra Leone.

Mr Lloyd and the Foreign Secretary have both said there had been no Ministerial discussion of Sandline International until May 1.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 17, 1998
Words:232
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