Source: The Telegraph
A MARRIED couple from Shropshire were “groomed” into supplying parts for Iran’s nuclear programme, a court has heard.
Paul Attwater, 65, and Iris Attwater, 66, smuggled prohibited aircraft parts from their company Pairs Aviation to Alexander George, 76, in Malaysia who supplied Iranian aviation firms.
Concluding that the couple had been “very, very naive”, Judge Michael Grieve QC yesterday handed the couple suspended sentences after Mr Attwater insisted he had no idea the parts he was exporting had a military application.
George, who is due to be sentenced next month, acted as a broker between the couple and Iranian buyers. He held substantial contracts to source and supply Iranian aviation firms with components for planes and helicopters through companies he owned in Malaysia and Dubai, Southwark Crown Court heard.
George, of Long Ashton, Bristol, sourced parts from Pairs Aviation which were then exported by the Attwaters via a Dutch shipping company to Iran through a network of companies in the Far East.
The aircraft parts could have been used in Iran’s nuclear programme, the court heard.
George Hepburne-Scott, defending Mr Attwater, described his client as “extremely naive”, adding: “This, I submit, is a truly exceptional case.
“Mr Attwater is 65-years-old, he is an exemplary citizen.
“He genuinely did not believe that these items could have a military application.”
Judge Michael Grieve QC said: “The fact that you were, in effect, groomed by Mr George I accept – he deceived you.
“I do not, for one moment, think that either of you are bad people. You have, in my view, been very, very naive.”
Mr Attwater, of Ketley, Telford, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the exportation of goods with intent to evade prohibition or restriction. His wife, also of Ketley, maintained her not guilty plea throughout the trial but was convicted unanimously by a jury after a short deliberation.
The court heard that the couple were aware of the need for a license to export some of their products after Customs officials impounded their goods in 2009, due to concerns about the production of weapons of mass destruction in Iran.
However, Mr and Mrs Attwater continued to deal with George, sending him the same parts that had been returned by border customs via a forwarding house in the Netherlands.
Judge Grieve told the Attwaters: “Despite undertaking not to export these goods, you proceeded again to send them out to Malaysia.
“These export controls might be confusing but they are there for a very good reason.
“That ultimate risk is one with potentially very serious humanitarian consequences. Such a consequence included use against others in nuclear weapons.”
Mr Attwater agreed to sign a basis of plea prior to his formal guilty plea, in which he said: “I did not know or believe that goods or aircraft components would be shipped to Iran.
“I did not think there was even the remotest opportunity of these good ending up in a nuclear weapons program.”
Mr and Mrs Attwater were both sentenced to six months of jail suspended for 12 months and barred from being company directors for the next six years.
George denied two counts of being knowingly concerned in the supply or delivery of controlled goods to an embargoed destination, but was found guilty by a jury. He will be sentenced next month.
Proceedings against George’s wife, Ruth, 74, were dropped after it ruled she had no case to answer.