Westland Affair

Westland Affair
   At the close of 1985, the UK military helicopter supplier Westland needed financial support. Two interested parties emerged, Sikorsky of the USA, supported by the Trade and Industry Secretary Leon Brittan, and a European consortium favoured by the Defence Secretary, Michael Heseltine. The Cabinet agreed to take a neutral line. However, officials from the DTI promoted the Sikorsky offer to MPs and, with Downing Street’s approval, leaked a letter from the Solicitor General questioning Heseltine’s assertion that Sikorsky would have difficulty finding European outlets. Heseltine resigned and Brittan soon followed, admitting his knowledge of the leak. The Defence Select Committee investigating Westland was denied access to several key witnesses including Mrs Thatcher, and complained about obstruction from senior civil servants and Brittan.
   See also: government inquiries
   COLIN WILLIAMS

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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