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OMAN’S late dictator received decades of secret advice from a group of senior figures in the British Establishment, including heads of MI6 and a foreign minister, an investigation revealed today.
The secret group of advisers, including a British oil executive, an ex-governor of the Bank of England and six members of the House of Lords, may have broken transparency rules by failing to declare their services to a foreign head of state.
The existence of the secret group was revealed last week by former Tory MP Alan Duncan in his diary, with further revelations unearthed by Declassified, an investigative news site focused on British foreign policy and the military.
Reports reveal that while Sultan Qaboos was presiding over a repressive dictatorship, with laws banning political parties and independent media, he was secretly receiving advice from some of the most senior figures in the British Establishment.
These annual meetings were allegedly held every January since 1990, with Qaboos flying the group in on his private jet. The last meeting took place as recently as 2019, a year before Qaboos’s death.
Qaboos ruled Oman for 50 years. During that time he spent billions on British arms and surveillance.
Oman pro-democracy campaigners told Declassified that the existence of the secret council proved Qaboos was an “agent of the British empire.”
Omani Centre for Human Rights chairman Nabhan al-Hanashi said it showed advisers from “a country like Britain, which usually claims to respect human rights and people’s freedom of choice, were involved directly in humiliating citizens and depriving them of their rights.”
Oman dissident Khalfan al-Badwawi said: “This is proof that British colonialism never ended. Omanis have long suspected that MI6 treats our country like their back garden. These British privy councillors need to get out of Oman.”
Mr Duncan is said to have secretly attended at least 14 sessions of Oman’s “privy council” since 2001, including when he was serving as a foreign minister.
Despite requirements in the ministerial code to declare such exchanges and interests, Mr Duncan did not do so.
The Foreign Office has been approached for comment.
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