THE man who brokered the deal with Channel 4 to screen a rare interview with Saddam Hussein is a well-known Scottish former journalist.
The interview, of which Channel 4 broadcast about 25 minutes on its evening news bulletin on Tuesday, was the first granted by the Iraqi dictator to a Western figure for 12 years.
It is understood that Arab Television, dedicated to providing a voice for Muslims, filmed the interview and made a deal with Channel 4. It is believed the Arab station is run by Ron McKay, a former Scotland on Sunday journalist.
Fielding the gentlest of questions from Mr Benn, Saddam denied he had any weapons of mass destruction or links with al-Qaeda terrorists. But as news of the interview spread through Westminster on Tuesday, Downing Street reacted with anger.
No10’s fury that the oxygen of publicity was being given to Saddam was robustly challenged by Channel 4 News. It insisted it had retained full editorial control over the interview.
Mr Benn, who also flew to Baghdad for talks with Saddam before the 1991 Gulf war, claimed: "I conducted the interview for political reasons."
But Labour MPs criticised him for the soft tone of his questioning.
Mr McKay was caught up in the infamous "Fettesgate" scandal in the Nineties.
The break-in through a window at the Scottish Crime Squad’s ground-floor offices in Edinburgh in July 1991 led to allegations of senior detectives reaching an apparent immunity deal with a man - believed to be close to the city’s gay criminal underworld - for the return of highly sensitive files.
Police arrested Mr McKay, who worked at that time for Scotland on Sunday, while he was on holiday at Chatham, in Kent, and flew him north, where he was charged with reset at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
Mr McKay had written that he had been contacted by the Animal Liberation Front and had seen some of the documents stolen in the raid.
It transpired that the group had not been involved in the break-in. The chief constable later admitted that the treatment of Mr McKay was tactless and apologised to the editor of Scotland on Sunday.