Timothy Simon Spicer, OBE (born 1952) is a British former army officer, current CEO of the private security company (PSC) Aegis Defence Services. He is a veteran of the Falklands War and also served with the British Army in Northern Ireland. He became well-known as an employee of Sandline International, a private military company (PMC) which closed in April 2004.
Born in 1952 in Aldershot, England, Spicer followed his father into the British Army, attending Sandhurst and then joining the Scots Guards. He tried to join the SAS, but failed the entry course. In 1982, his unit was pulled from Tower of London guard duty and sent to the Falklands War where he saw action at the Battle of Mount Tumbledown.
Spicer was involved in what became a controversial incident while serving in Northern Ireland in 1992. Soldiers of the Scots Guards under Lieutenant Colonel Spicer's command shot and killed Catholic civilian, Peter McBride. Subsequent evidence suggested that McBride had been unarmed and not a threat. Lt. Col. Spicer stood by his soldiers even after they were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on 10 February 1995, arguing that in the conditions applicable to the incident, they had legitimately believed their lives to be in peril. The soldiers were released from Maghaberry Prison on 2 September 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement following a high-profile campaign to secure their release.
In 1994 he left the army and founded Sandline International, a private military company.
The Sandline affair was a political scandal that became one of the defining moments in the history of Papua New Guinea (PNG), and particularly that of the conflict in Bougainville. It brought down the PNG government of Sir Julius Chan and took Papua New Guinea to the verge of military revolt.
After coming to power in mid-1994, Prime Minister Chan made repeated attempts to resolve the Bougainville conflict by diplomatic means. These were ultimately unsuccessful, due to the repeated failure of Bougainvillean leaders to arrive at scheduled peace talks. After a number of failed military assaults and the refusal of Australia and New Zealand to provide troops, a decision was then made to investigate the use of mercenaries. Through some overseas contacts, defence minister Mathias Ijape was put in contact with Spicer.
He accepted a contract for $36 million, but the deal fell through when the PNG Army found out that so much money was being spent on a job they claimed to be able to do. The Army overthrew the PNG government and arrested Spicer. He was eventually released and sued the PNG government for money not paid.
When employed by Sandline International, Spicer was involved in military operations in the Sierra Leone Civil War, which included importing weapons in apparent violation of the United Nations arms embargo. He had been contacted by Rakesh Saxena, an Indian financier hoping that a new government would grant him diamond and mineral concessions. The controversy over this incident, and whether the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) knew of Sandline's actions; inquiries into it concluded that the FCO had known of the actions, and that Spicer believed he was not breaking the embargo. However, former British diplomat Craig Murray claims that he was present at a Foreign office meeting when Spicer was explicitly read the text of UN Security Council Resolution 1132 which obliges member states to prevent their nationals from importing arms to Sierra Leone. Spicer always denied that he or Sandline did anything illegal:
Its worth noting that
Neither Sandline nor Tim Spicer did anything illegal and were, if anything, victims of a wider UK political controversy. Sandline was contracted to supply weapons and professional services to the legitimate elected government of Sierra Leone. This government had been deposed by a military junta in alliance with the Revolutionary United Front, a barbaric rebel movement. The British government knew of the action, which did not contravene international law or the UN Security Council’s arms embargo. The facts are borne out by a Government investigation, two inquiries and a UN Legal opinion. — Spicer's FAQ.
Spicer has claimed that he always has called for greater involvement of the British government in the PMC issue. In fact, Col. Spicer said that six weeks before the arms-to-Africa affair blew up, Sandline had submitted a paper to the Foreign Office calling for greater regulation, but had not yet received a response. At the time, with no government response, Sandline was considering setting up its own oversight committee, including a senior retired general, a lawyer and a representative of the media.
In late 1999, Spicer left Sandline, which kept operating until 2004. The next year, he launched Crisis and Risk Management. In 2001, he changed the company's name to Strategic Consulting International and also set up a partner firm specializing in anti-piracy consulting, called Trident Maritime. In 2002, Spicer established Aegis Defence Services, which around the beginning of the Iraq war was consulting for the Disney Cruise Line.
Spicer is Chief Executive of Aegis Defence Services, a PMC based in London. The Chairman is Field-Marshal Lord Inge, former Chief of the Defence Staff and the Board of Directors include: General Sir Roger Wheeler, Chief of the General Staff; Paul Boateng, former Labour Minister and ex-High Commissioner to South Africa and Sir John Birch, former British deputy ambassador to the United Nations.
In October 2004, Aegis won a $293 million three-year contract in Iraq outsourcing, among other things, intelligence for the U.S. Army.
Spicer is effectively in charge of the second largest military force in Iraq – some 20,000 private soldiers. Just don't call him a mercenary -Stephen Armstrong Guardian journalist
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