Alan Duncan

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Person.png Sir Alan Duncan   Powerbase Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician, deep state operative)
Alan Duncan Official.jpg
BornAlan James Carter Duncan
Rickmansworth, England
Alma materSt John's College (Oxford), Harvard University
Member ofLe Cercle
Interests • Marc Rich
• Benazir Bhutto
Called Julian Assange a “miserable little worm” in Parliament. UK visitor to Le Cercle. As UK Minister, Alan Duncan organised the oil blockade of Libya in 2011.

Employment.png UK/Minister of State for Europe

In office
15 July 2016 - 22 July 2019
Preceded byDavid Lidington

Employment.png Shadow Minister for Prisons

In office
7 September 2009 - 11 May 2010

Employment.png Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
19 January 2009 - 7 September 2009
Succeeded byGeorge Young

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
10 May 2005 - 8 December 2005

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs

In office
10 November 2003 - 8 September 2004

Employment.png Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton

In office
9 April 1992 - 6 November 2019

Sir Alan Duncan is a British Conservative politician and former Member of Parliament (1992–2019). He is a UK visitor to Le Cercle and in 2014 visited Bahrain with fellow UK Cercle member, Geoffrey Tantum.[1]

Following the 2010 General Election, the new Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Duncan as Minister of State at the Department for International Development.[2] He left this post following the government reshuffle in July 2014,[3] and was knighted in September 2014 for services to international development and to UKMiddle East relations. While on the backbenches, Sir Alan Duncan served on the Intelligence and Security Committee between 2015 and 2016.[4]

After two years out of government, he returned to frontline politics when new Prime Minister Theresa May appointed him as Minister for Europe and the Americas, and effective deputy to then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in July 2016.[5] Sir Alan Duncan resigned as Minister of State on 22 July 2019 citing Johnson's election to the Tory leadership and, hence, the UK's premiership.[6][7] He decided not to seek re-election at the UK/2019 General Election.[8]

Alan Duncan became the first openly gay Conservative Member of Parliament, publicly coming out in 2002.[9]

Early life

Duncan was born in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, and was educated at two independent schools: Beechwood Park School in Markyate, and Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood, at both of which he was 'Head Monitor' (head boy). He had two brothers, who also attended Beechwood Park School. Their family supported the Liberal Party, and Duncan ran (and lost) as a Liberal at a school mock election in 1970; two years later he joined the Young Conservatives.

He then attended St John's College, Oxford, where he coxed the college first eight, and was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1979.[10] Whilst there, he formed a friendship with Benazir Bhutto, and ran her successful campaign to become the President of the Oxford Union. He gained a Kennedy Scholarship to study at Harvard University between 1981 and 1982.

Business Career

After graduating from Oxford, Duncan worked as a trader of oil and refined products, first with Royal Dutch Shell (1979–81)[11] and then for international commodity broker and oil trader Marc Rich from 1982 to 1988 in London and Singapore.[12]

Opposition MPs in the apartheid South African parliament in May 1984 named Marc Rich as one of apartheid's major oil suppliers, breaching voluntary international embargos and contractual obligations imposed by OPEC producers. Despite repeated and overwhelming votes for a mandatory oil embargo in the UN General Assembly and a vigorous international campaign throughout the 1980s, individual traders like Rich and companies like Shell continued to supply the apartheid regime with its lifeblood. Alan Duncan has consistently played down his involvement with US broker Marc Rich, maintaining he was too junior in the operation to be closely involved with him.[13]

Alan Duncan used the connections he had built up and became self-employed from 1988 to 1992, acting as a consultant and adviser to foreign governments on oil supplies, shipping and refining. In 1989, Duncan set up the independent Harcourt Consultants, which advises on oil and gas matters. He made over £1 million after helping fill the need to supply oil to Pakistan after supplies from Kuwait had been disrupted in the Gulf War.

Political career

Alan Duncan was an active member of the Battersea Conservative Association from 1979 until 1984, when he moved to live in Singapore, from which he returned in 1986. After Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigned in November 1990, he offered his home in Westminster as the headquarters of John Major's leadership campaign.

Duncan was involved in the 1997 leadership contest, being the right-hand man of William Hague, the eventual winner. In this capacity, he was called "the closest thing [the Conservatives] have to Peter Mandelson".[14] Duncan and Hague had both been at Oxford, both been Presidents of the Oxford Union, and had been close friends since at least the early 1980s. Duncan, openly gay since 2002, once shared a London flat with William Hague, who has felt obliged to deny public speculation about his own sexuality.

In 2010 he was a Minister of State at the Department for International Development.[15]

Libya oil cell

During the UK/NATO attack on Libya in 2011, Alan Duncan was the brain behind the so-called "Libya oil cell", which helped block fuel supplies to the Libyan government while ensuring that petrol and diesel continued to get through to the British-supported rebels in the east. The cell advised NATO to blockade the port of Zawiya to prevent tankers bringing in fuel for the Gaddafi government's war effort. Libya had lots of crude but couldn't refine it. They also helped locate other routes the smugglers were using to get fuel into Libya overland from Tunisia and Algeria.

The cell encouraged London-based oil traders to sell fuel to the rebels in Benghazi by trying to minimise the risk they would take by having to wait for payment. It also ensured that the oil traders knew who to contact within the rebel hierarchy.[16]

Targeted by the Israel lobby

In an undercover investigation, Al Jazeera recorded an Israeli diplomat in London, Shai Masot, caught plotting to "take down" minister Alan Duncan for his opposition the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The recording show Masot discussing the way to proceed in this with Maria Strizzolo, who is allegedly only a UK civil servant.[17]

In his 2019 memoirs, Duncan accused pro-Israel lobbyists of "the most disgusting interference" in British public life, the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) had been responsible for pushing the country to adopt disproportionately anti-Palestinian and pro-Israel policies. "It’s a sort of buried scandal that has to stop… they will interfere at a high level in British politics in the interests of Israel on the back of donor power in the UK."[18]

US intelligence interest

US diplomatic cables published by Julian Assange in Wikileaks revealed a particular intelligence interest in Alan Duncan, at the time Shadow Minister for Prisons. A 22 January 2010 cable was signed off by Elissa Pitterle, head of intelligence operations at the US State Department. She thanked the London embassy for its intelligence on Duncan's "friendship with ... William Hague", saying it was "particularly insightful and exceptionally well timed, as analysts are preparing finished products on the Conservative leadership for senior policymakers".

The cable called for further intelligence on "Duncan's relationship with Conservative Party leader David Cameron and William Hague", and asked: "What role would Duncan play if the Conservatives form a government? What are Duncan's political ambitions?"[19][20]

Insulting Assange

Alan Duncan calls Assange a "miserable little worm"

In March 2018, Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan responded to MP Patrick McLoughlin's question about Julian Assange thus:

"It is of great regret that Julian Assange remains in the Ecuador embassy.

"It is of even deeper regret that even last night he was tweeting against Her Majesty's Government for their conduct in replying to the attack in Salisbury.

"It's about time that this miserable little worm walked out of the embassy, and gave himself up to British justice."[21]

Anticipating Assange's extradition

Interviewed in May 2019 about plans to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan was asked:

"You were reportedly responsible for getting Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy. Do you have any regrets about that decision?"

Duncan replied:

"Regrets? I'm delighted! He should have been out years earlier – he was just there rotting, by his own choice. It's a pity that the previous Ecuadorian government ever gave him asylum because he was able to get in. And the new government with whom we've been working very closely for a few months have been very sensible and we worked out all the legalities of making sure that we were consistent with the Vienna convention in being invited into the embassy, and that the police were able to do what they had to do. I think frankly if even for his own health it was absolutely the right thing to do. So far from having regrets, I'm definitely delighted that we've got this person out of being holed up in two rooms in the middle of London. As to his extradition, well that's up to the courts, that's up to the lawyers. First of all, he has gone in to a prison in London because he is in breach of his bail conditions. So that UK domestic process will determine how long he remains in prison. If there's an extradition request that will be determined by lawyers and the court – not by me as a politician. So whatever the law and the process of justice delivers, that's what'll happen."[22]


Events Participated in

Le Cercle/2016 (London)June 2016June 2016London
St James’s Court Hotel
Alan Duncan reports that the group met in St James’s Court Hotel in Westminster
Munich Security Conference/201915 February 201917 February 2019Germany
The 55th Munich Security Conference, which included "A Spreading Plague" aimed at "identifying gaps and making recommendations to improve the global system for responding to deliberate, high consequence biological events."


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Assange Judge is 40-year "good friend" of Minister who orchestrated his arrestArticle2 December 2021Mark Curtis
Matt Kennard
Julian Assange’s fate lies in the hands of an Appeal Judge who is a close friend of Sir Alan Duncan - the former Foreign Office minister who called Assange a “miserable little worm” in Parliament
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