A leading Lloyd's insurer has warned that Iraq is becoming a "no-go" area for insurers.

Ascot chief executive Martin Reith said the situation in the country was continuing to deteriorate. "We have had losses and have had to reconsider our position on terrorism and war cover.

"It is becoming a no-go area for underwriters. We cannot control cargo movements and the bandits are not choosy."

He said he would "need persuasion" to offer any insurance in the future.

"The elections do not make things any more certain," he added.