Con Coughlin

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Person.png Con Coughlin   Amazon Powerbase SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(editor, author, journalist, neoconservative)
Con Coughlin.png
Born14 January 1955
Alma materChrist's Hospital, at Brasenose College (Oxford)
InterestsOperation Mass Appeal
Foreign editor of the Daily Telegraph best known for receiving stories directly from MI6, including that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.

Employment.png Foreign editor

In office
1997 - 1999
EmployerThe Sunday Telegraph
Best known for receiving stories directly from MI6

Con Coughlin is defence and security editor of the Daily Telegraph, having previously been executive foreign editor.[1] Coughlin is best known for receiving stories directly from MI6, his relationship with the British intelligence Services was exposed after a legal writ was served against The Telegraph for publishing a suggestion that Colonel Gaddafi's son was involved in a fraud[2].

Coughlin also printed a story linking Saddam Hussein with Al-Qaeda and he has published articles on Iran using (in the words of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran) "unnamed and untraceable sources"[3][4][5].

It was Coughlin who, with the help of unnamed intelligence sources, discovered that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.[6]

Intelligence plants

Gaddafi legal case

Telegraph Newspapers apologised for a libel against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in April 2002.[7] The Sunday Telegraph had published an article by Coughlin in November 1995, then the newspaper's chief foreign correspondent (and a piece for the newspaper's Mandrake column, published during the following month, which quoted Coughlin)[8] alleging that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was involved in a massive criminal operation with Iranian officials that involved counterfeit notes and money laundering in Europe based on information received by British intelligence and banking officials.[9] The Sunday Telegraph was served with a libel writ by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The original story followed a lunch given by Malcolm Rifkind, then Foreign Secretary, at which editor Charles Moore and colleagues were present, and later briefings given to Coughlin by MI6 agents who had insisted on the preservation of their anonymity.[9][10]

After a hearing at the Court of Appeal in October 1998, it was established that the journalists had a right to bring the story before the public under the Qualified privilege, under the Reynold's Defence rules established by an earlier case, Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd the previous July.[8][11]

The main court case followed in 2002, which was defended by the Telegraph Group and was eventually settled out of court without any damages being paid, and with both sides agreeing to pay their own costs. In 2002 Geoffrey Robertson QC made a statement on behalf of the Telegraph Group stating "there was no truth in the allegation that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi participated in any currency sting".[12]

Atta letter

In late 2003, in a front-page exclusive story, Coughlin revealed a leaked intelligence memorandum, purportedly uncovered by Iraq's interim government, which detailed a meeting in Prague between Mohamed Atta, one of the alleged 11 September hijackers, and Iraqi intelligence at the time of Saddam Hussein.[13][14] The memo was supposedly written by Iraqi security chief General Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti to the president of Iraq.

The Daily Telegraph's report was repeated by several conservative columnists in the United States, including Deroy Murdock[15] and William Safire.[16]

The story was later revealed as a forgery created by the Bush administration itself.[17][18][19][20]


Coughlin alleged that the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has negotiated a deal with Iran for Tehran to make a $25 million contribution to the campaign funds of Turkey's ruling party.[21]

Immediately after the publication of the article, Turkish Government rebutted all allegations and asked the newspaper to remove Coughlin's article from its website. Justice and Development Party also demanded an apology for publishing what it called an article without any sources but with many lies in it.

The Daily Telegraph lost the libel lawsuit[22] Erdoğan filed in UK. As a result, Erdogan won "a substantial sum" in libel damages and an apology was published by the newspaper.

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  1. Con Coughlin, Telegraph blogs, accessed 7 August 2008.
  2. Britain's security services and journalists: the secret story, by David Leigh, British Journalism Review Vol. 11, No. 2, 2000, pages 21-26.
  3. Press Watchdog slammed by 'Dont Attack Iran' Campaigners, CASMII UK Press Release: 1 May 2007, accessed 23 June 2009
  4. Con Coughlin, "Does this link Saddam to 9/11? A document discovered by Iraq's interim government details a meeting between the man behind the September 11 attacks and Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist, at his Baghdad training camp", Sunday Telegraph, 14 December 2003, p 21.
  5., Press Watchdog slammed by 'Dont Attack Iran' Campaigners, CASMI, Accessed 13-June-2009
  7. "Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi: an apology",, 21 April 2002
  8. a b "Gaddafi v Telegraph Group Ltd [1998] EWCA Civ 1626 (28 October 1998)", Judgemental
  9. a b
  10. Vikram Dodd "Profiles: Saif Gadafy vs Con Coughlin", The Guardian, 19 April 2002
  11. David Hooper Reputations Under Fire, London: Little, Brown, 2000, p.341
  13. Coughlin, Con. Terrorist behind September 11 strike was trained by Saddam The Daily Telegraph. 13 December 2003
  14. Coughlin, Con. Does this link Saddam to 9/11? The Daily Telegraph. 13 December 2003
  15. Murdock, Deroy. On the Interrogation List Archived 17 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine. National Review. 15 December 2003
  16. Safire, William. From the 'Spider Hole' The New York Times. 15 December 2003
  19. >
  22. Erdogan wins damages for Iran claim