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Jordanian Ambassador (Shooting Incident)

Volume 828: debated on Thursday 16 December 1971

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( by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement in regard to the attempt to assassinate the Jordanian Ambassador in Kensington on 15th December.

Shortly before noon yesterday His Excellency the Jordanian Ambassador was fired at with an automatic weapon on his way by car to the Jordanian Embassy. His hand was injured and he is in hospital.

I take this opportunity of informing the House that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has sent a message to the King of Jordan expressing shock and regret at the attempted assassination.

A number of witnesses have given descriptions of the gunman. The car in which he escaped has been found and two weapons which were in it are being examined.

Inquiries are continuing, especially at likely points of departure.

The people of South Kensington, and, indeed, the whole country, are deeply shocked that a crime such as this should have taken place in central London in daylight. I assure my right hon. Friend that he will have our support in any proper steps he takes to assure the security of the Corps Diplomatique in future.

I entirely agree about the shocking nature of this episode. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is following up the matter with all vigour.

May I offer sympathy to the Ambassador and also congratulations to the chauffeur? Could my right hon. Friend inform the House what is the strength of the Black September movement in this country?

I join my hon. Friend in congratulating the chauffeur on his splendid action. On my hon. Friend's second point, I am afraid I cannot say what is the strength of that movement, nor can I detail the actions of the Metropolitan Police in dealing with this problem. But I confirm that the police are well aware of the serious nature of this episode and the importance of avoiding any further episodes in future.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that arrests have been made at Gatwick and Heathrow Airports? Will he give urgent consideration to the security of unlicensed private and disused airfields in this country and the ease with which they are used for illicit purposes, particularly for illegal entry and exit?

On my hon. Friend's first point, I understand that certain people are being held for questioning and, having seen the "tape", I understand that they have subsequently been released. On the second point, the question of the security of unlicensed airfields is an important matter which I shall examine.

Will the Home Secretary assure the House that the Special Branch will be more effective in dealing with this matter than it has been in dealing with the South African spy ring?

I do not accept that premise, which is totally misconceived. The Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police is a very efficient body.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that London is gaining a reputation as being a gathering place for dissident groups and for organising subversive activities against friendly countries? Does he not think the whole regulations regarding entry into this country should be tightened?

I would not accept that. We are all very concerned with the growth of violent crime in this country. London, by comparison with many other capital cities, stands up pretty well.