The Government has confirmed British businesses received permission to send potentially deadly chemicals to Syria in the build-up to the country's bloody civil war, but added there is "no evidence" they were used in "weapons programmes".
Scientists have told The Mail on Sunday the Government's issuing of chemical supply licences for firms delivering to Syria was "grossly irresponsible" given sodium fluoride can be used to make the nerve agent sarin.
Scientists believe sarin was used in the deadly chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21.
But a spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said the licence applications were "rigorously assessed and determined to be for legitimate commercial use".
She added: "The Government is confident that UK export controls continue to be among the most stringent in the world."
The Government has confirmed British businesses were given permission to send potentially deadly chemicals to Syria in the build-up to the brutal conflict.
The Mail on Sunday reported that five licences were granted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to firms between July 2004 and May 2010, the year before the civil conflict erupted and before EU sanctions were enforced in June 2012.
The licences allowed the sale of sodium fluoride for commercial use in cosmetics and healthcare products, the department said.
A spokesperson, though, said there is "no evidence that the chemicals were used in weapons programmes".