Nuclear spy row customs officer sacked

A CUSTOMS investigator who claimed that spies interfered in efforts to halt an international nuclear smuggling ring has been sacked for gross misconduct, it emerged yesterday.

Atif Amin caused a political storm after claiming officials at MI6 and the CIA ordered him to drop an inquiry while working for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). He was in charge of Operation Akin into links between British companies and an illegal network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani scientist who helped build that country's nuclear arsenal.

Mr Amin claimed he uncovered evidence that the Pakistan network supported Libya's nuclear ambitions in 2000 but that it was not officially exposed and stopped for a further three years.

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He accused the two intelligence agencies of failing to "blow the whistle", possibly allowing the network to sell nuclear technology and weapon designs to Iran and North Korea.

An HMRC spokesman said Mr Amin was sacked for gross misconduct after he disclosed sensitive information to journalists and giving a television interview.

News of his dismissal emerged after the Independent Police Complaints Commission said an inquiry found he deliberately disclosed the information without authorisation.

Officials at the watchdog launched an inquiry after Mr Amin, formerly of Fleet, Hampshire, gave several interviews in October 2007 while on a trip to the United States.