» Monday, May 10, 2004


Asked why the Prime Minister had not been on the frontbench for the Defence Secretary's Statement this afternoon, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Prime Minister was obviously aware of what Mr Hoon was going to say. Indeed, he had articulated the case himself twice today. Rather than address marginal issues, such as who was sitting on the frontbench, it was important for people to address the substance of the matter - i.e. that issues highlighted by the ICRC had already been under investigation or had been dealt with by the time the interim report had been received last February.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the UK would support China in its efforts to have the EU weapons embargo lifted, the PMOS said that it was an issue that was under review by the EU. A final decision would have to be taken by the EU as a whole.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

New Appointment

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) informed journalists that Kim Darroch, currently Director General EU in the FCO, had been appointed head of the European Secretariat in the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister's EU adviser in succession to Sir Stephen Wall who was due to retire from the Civil Service next month.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Iraq/Abuse Allegations

Asked if the Prime Minister had been aware in February of the Red Cross report into allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners and what action had been taken as a result of the report, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had dealt with the first part of the question in his press conference this morning. Questions about who knew what, when would be dealt with by the Defence Secretary in his Statement to the House this afternoon. In answer to further questions, the PMOS said that it was important to put this issue into context. He pointed out that ICRC reports had always been confidential. This was not at the request of the UK Government - it was the way that the ICRC worked worldwide. It made its reports to prison authorities, and that was the way in which it operated. Secondly, the report in February had not been UK specific. It had been about the issue of prisoner detentions in Iraq in general. It had therefore been addressed to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and had been copied to the UK Government. Thirdly, where it had raised concerns or allegations, those which related to UK procedures were already being addressed or had been addressed as a result of the report. The PMOS underlined the importance of keeping this issue in perspective. He reminded journalists of Adam Ingram's Statement to the House last Tuesday in which he had said that thirty three cases relating to allegations of mistreatment by British troops had been investigated. Of those, twenty one had been completed, fifteen had been found to have no case to answer and six were being considered for further legal processes. The remaining twelve were still being investigated. He added that it was a mistake to suggest that the ICRC report was in some way a sweeping condemnation of UK procedures. It was not. He pointed out that an ICRC report into the new UK detention centre at Shaiba in April had contained few significant criticisms. Asked for further detail about this particular report, the PMOS said that he was unable to provide further information because the ICRC worked under strict rules of confidentiality and did not want their reports published. Indeed, that was a limitation under which Geoff Hoon would have to operate this afternoon.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)


Asked if the Prime Minister would raise the issue of Chinese human rights abuses in his meeting with the Chinese Premier today, the PMOS said that these were issues which were raised on a regular basis with the Chinese at all levels. We recognised that some progress had been made, particularly in the areas relating to legal reform. However, it was clear that there were other matters to be addressed. We also recognised the benefits of our relationship with China in the light of its importance in the world, not least because it was the sixth largest economy and because it was a permanent member of the UN.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (6)

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