Insurance worries for diplomats as foreign governments looked to SAS

British officials planned for a rash of "loan" requests from governments to ship the SAS around the world to sort out other terrorist crises, following its dramatic storming of the Iranian embassy in London.

In May 1980, television footage of black-clad SAS troops abseiling down the side of the embassy to free 26 hostages from terrorist kidnappers – brought the secretive British force worldwide publicity and admiration.

Papers released today by the National Archives show officials thought it would lead to so many requests for them to intervene elsewhere, they even drew up special indemnity forms for foreign governments to sign.

Within days of the siege ending, DE Tatham in the Foreign Office Middle East department wrote: "I suspect we may also get requests in the event of a future hijack or siege involving hostages, for the loan of an SAS team to resolve the problem."

The diplomat then added: "In these circumstances I think it would be useful to have a pro forma agreement covering the use of the SAS in a third country by invitation."

The form, he suggested, should cover "immunity from prosecution and all claims in the event of causing casualties, life insurance, and so on"