» Thursday, March 4, 2004


Asked for a reaction to David Kay’s latest comments suggesting that he and others had been taken in by Iraqi dissident claims of WMD, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister would be making a speech about Iraq tomorrow in which he would make a more rounded argument relating to proliferation issues and international security threats. In that context, he would obviously address the issue of WMD in his speech.

Asked if the speech was a further attempt to draw a line under the whole issue of Iraq, the PMOS said that he would not characterise it in that way. Iraq would continue to provoke comment and attract attention in the run-up to the handover of power later this year. The Prime Minister had been of the view for some time that it was important to bring together some of the wider issues, such as proliferation, which did not necessarily simply relate to Iraq.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. The most cogent comment I have read about the whole Iraq "sexing up" row appeared in the Guardian’s letters page on February 5, 2004 under the heading "The Official Secrets Act is to blame" in a letter from Peter Hill of BBC Current Affairs (1969-1999) : "The source of the present controversy lies in the effect that the 1989 Official Secrets Act has had on journalism. It was designed by the Thatcher government to stop people such as Clive Ponting ever revealing unpalatable secrets again. Section two encourages false or vague reporting. If a journalist works too well on a story involving an official secret, prosecution will inevitably follow. There is no public interest defence – because that is specifically forbidden by the Act.
    In practice, this reduces responsible journalism to gutter-press output. If a reporter simply writes or says there is a rumour going about, or that a single anonymous person is the source of the story, prosecution is unlikely. It follows that the reporter serves the public interest better by publishing at this point of the development of the story. To go further would quickly make the story subjudice.
    Andrew Gilligan was working on a story about an official secret, using contacts bound by the Act. Dr Kelly certainly had access to secret information in documentary form – and perhaps knew of others with access to secret information who might back up his story. But if Gilligan had firmed up the story by looking for such evidence or second witness statements, he would have been open to prosecution. So what he did was, in fact, the best way of serving the public interest.
    Using a single source is now said to be the genesis of his mistake. But what alternative does the Official Secrets Act give? To bring truth to the public, it has to be wrapped up as a rumour."

    Patrick Haseldine (formerly HM Diplomatic Service)

    Comment by Patrick Haseldine — 4 Mar 2004 on 5:22 pm | Link
  2. The prime minister skates over one thing. The "proliferation issue" has nothing to do with Iraq. Iraq did not make weapons after 1991 – that’s a 12 year effective hiatus.

    So his comments about the proliferation issue will not relate – in the dictionary sense – to Iraq in the slightest.

    The man has to comment on Iraq directly, not merely somehow involve Iraq in passing reference to a now unrelated issue.

    The invasion cannot now be justified on proliferation grounds (aside from the fact that it was simply illegal for other reasons) and Iraq has been found not to have participated in proliferation in over a decade.

    Our ally, Pakistan, however is central to this issue. I wonder how many words he’ll devote to that country.

    Comment by Schoolboy — 4 Mar 2004 on 8:39 pm | Link
  3. For me the issue of Iraq and "Do we believe a word the Prime Minister says" has all been created from the years of "SPIN" that this Government developed when it came to power. All these years down the line I find I have been made so scepticle by the Blair years that even if he did tell the truth I am unable to believe him. Out of interest to any member of parliament that botheres to read this, you call it SPIN, your people call it LYING. For the first time in my life I voted Labour in both the last two General Elections, I thought that I was voting for a new Britain, what a fool I was.

    Comment by Mike Gunnell — 5 Mar 2004 on 9:59 am | Link
  4. The Prime Minister could very easily draw a line under the issue of "was the Iraq war legal". All he has to do is publish the Legal advice he got from the Attorney General and that would put him entirely in the clear. I wonder why he doesn’t do that??

    Comment by Mike Gunnell — 1 Jun 2004 on 9:52 am | Link
  5. If that legal advice got published, it wouldn’t draw a line under anything. Anyone who’s anyone who knows a lawyer will happily tell you that the beauty of law is that there’s always a technicality that someone can be got off on.

    The whole of the American legal system is full of people who get people off on technicalities every day; the law, when used in this way, is not a tool to prove people right or wrong – and the law, this tool, cannot change people’s opinion about the morality of these actions. Anyone who found that it did defend government actions, but was against the war, would be upset that the law upheld immoral acts; anyone who found that it did not defend government actions, but was for the war, would be arguing that the law is not protective enough about conserving our nation’s national interests.

    The law proves nothing; the law is a vehicle for justice, but not a vehicle for truth, and is not an arbiter of morality.

    None of these questions can be resolved by releasing that document – however much it may or may not be a smoking gun on the action itself.

    Nothing, save an ultimately positive effect to the causal action of joining the war in the first place can ultimately defend the act; that’s the whole point, and problem, with the use of Just War theory.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 1 Jun 2004 on 11:55 am | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


March 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Feb   Apr »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh