Normalising the
crime of the century by John
I asked him if the government knew that Hawk fighter-bombers sold to
Indonesia were being used against civilians in East Timor.
“Everyone knows,” he said, “except parliament and the public.”
“And the media?”
“The media – the big names – have been invited to King Charles Street (the Foreign Office) and flattered and briefed with lies. They are no trouble.”
As Iraq desk officer at the Foreign Office, he had drafted letters for ministers reassuring MPs and the public that the British Government was not arming Saddam Hussein. “This was a downright lie”, he said. “I couldn’t bear it”.
Giving evidence before the arms-to-Iraq enquiry, Higson was the only British official commended by Lord Justice Scott for telling the truth. The price he paid was the loss of his health and marriage and constant surveillance by spooks. He ended up living on benefits in a Birmingham bedsitter where he suffered a seizure, struck his head and died alone. Whistleblowers are often heroes; he was one.