“British MPs to visit Jaffna” roared a headline in the Daily Mirror, one of Sri Lanka’s most widely read English dailies. They cited as their source “Presidential Advisor Arun Tambimuttu” the former Battacola region campaign organiser for the Rajapaksa regime.
The report suggested ten MPs (all Conservatives) – David Amess, Guto Bebb, Nick de Bois, Alun Cairns, Alan Duncan, Liam Fox, Sheryll Murray, Richard Ottaway, Andrew Turner and James Wharton – were to visit Sri Lanka to examine the militarisation of the north of the island, following a meeting in London with Tambimuttu and Government of Sri Lanka apologist-in-chief Rajiva Wijesinha.
This seemed plausible; several of the MPs in question had previously shown an interest in Sri Lanka: Liam Fox’s involvement has a matter of much controversy, Nick du Bois and James Wharton also contributed to a recent parliamentary debate on Sri Lanka.
We were keen that these MPs see as full a picture of Sri Lanka as possible, and so we approached contacts in Parliament offering to brief the MPs, either before or after their trip. However when we contacted one office, this was their reply:
“I have spoken to various organisations in and around Parliament and no one is aware of this supposed trip. I have also spoken to the offices of the MPs mentioned in the reports and none of them have any plans to visit Sri Lanka.”
In other words either Tambimuttu or the Daily Mirror flat out made the story up. If only that were surprising.