Iraqis allege sex abuse at British embassy

Cleaner says KBR manager offered double pay for sex


Iraqis employed at the British embassy in Baghdad have called for a government enquiry after staff members said they were sexually abused, the UK Times reported Wednesday.

An Iraqi cleaning lady told British diplomats that a British contractor with KBR, a U.S. service company which oversaw catering and cleaning services, had promised to double her wage if she spent nights with him.

Her refusal resulted in a pay cut and she was later fired, the paper said.

The woman's claims were backed up by two Iraqi cooks, who said KBR managers groped Iraqi staff regularly and paid or rewarded them for sex.

The men lost their jobs shortly after speaking to embassy officials, despite being promised their testimony would be treated in "complete confidence."

Houston-based KBR, whose clients include the Pentagon, rejected the claims, after the embassy handed the case back to KBR to investigate, an arrangement criticized as "a very serious conflict of interest" by the Iraqi workers.

In testimonies taken by embassy officials last June, the cleaner said that on one occasion her manager “threw many $100 notes on the desk and said, ‘take whatever you want and stay overnight and I will pay you double [your daily pay]’. ”

Steve Bird, a Foreign Office spokesman in London, told the Times the investigation was handed over to KBR because the allegations involved “KBR staff against KBR staff”. He described KBR’s investigation as “thorough and professional”.

The three complainants said they spoke to the Times in the hope that the Foreign Office would conduct an independent inquiry, and said others had not come forward for fear of losing their jobs.