London, Jan 17 : Family sources of the controversial Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan have said that he was "annoyed" at the false disclosures made by British businessman "friend" Peter Griffin, who was suspected of helping the Libyan nuclear programme. Griffin faced inquiry into his dealings for four years before being cleared last week.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Griffin had said that he was so close to Dr Khan's family that he often used stay at his house and that his two daughters called him uncle.
Denying the claim, a Khan family source said that many things Griffin said in the interview were "completely rubbish", including what he said about his intimacy with the children of Dr Khan.
The source said Griffin was an engineer who ran a lucrative export business from Dubai and was suspected of helping Libya's atomic weapons programme. Griffin's company, Gulf Technical Industries (GTI), was found to have supplied key components for a Libyan machine factory designed to manufacture centrifuges.
British customs had been tipped off about the Libyan deal in December 2002. The following June, Griffin's wife Anna opened the door of their villa in Figanieres, Provence, and found a customs investigator and eight French police on her doorstep, the newspaper reported.
On Griffin being cleared from the investigation last week, the paper said: "There's no bloody evidence that's why. They have sent people to South Africa, to America, to Dubai, all over the world. It's gone before the [Revenue and Customs] director of prosecutions who said, 'We don't have a chance of winning this'."
Griffin claimed that his relationship with Dr Khan began in London. They met at Kundun, an Indian restaurant near the House of Commons, in August 1977. Over the next quarter of a century, Griffin, now 72, was to keep in close contact with Khan and his associates through his work as an exporter of goods and components to Pakistani government departments.
The two became good friends. "He would meet me at the airport and I'd stay at his house. I knew his children very well. Saw them grow up. I was part of the family," said Griffin.
He further said: "When they said this is a nuclear bomb, etc, he [Khan] told me that he was developing uranium enrichment to provide electricity through reactors. I never supplied anything that would have said to be that this was nuclear. I agree I supplied machine tools. Now you can make anything on a machine tool."
The association with Dr Khan brought Griffin into contact with Buhary Sayed Abu Tahir, a Sri Lankan who has been described as a linchpin in Khan's operation. Tahir was later to claim that he sold centrifuges - used for enriching uranium - to an unnamed Iranian for 1.5 million pounds in 1994-95.