» Monday, October 11, 2004


Asked which Minister would be making a Statement to the House on last week’s ISG report, the PMOS said that as he understood it, the Foreign Secretary would be answering FCO Questions tomorrow when he would reply to questions which had already been tabled on Iraq. Ultimately, however, Statements and the like were a matter for the Speaker of the House. Put to him that the recall of Parliament in September 2002 to discuss the dossier on WMD meant that the ISG report, which had concluded that there were no WMD, deserved at least a Statement in the Commons, the PMOS pointed out that that was not the only thing which the ISG had mentioned. It had also concluded that the policy of containment had been seriously eroded and that Saddam had had the intent to resume production of WMD as quickly as possible once sanctions had been lifted, as he was confident they would be. Asked to confirm reports that the Foreign Secretary might return early from his GAC meeting in Brussels to make a Statement to Parliament this afternoon, the PMOS said that he was not aware of any plans for a Statement at this stage. However, these were matters for the Speaker who would make his decision in the usual way at around midday today.

Questioned as to whether sanctions against Saddam could have been lifted without the UN Security Council’s unanimous agreement, the PMOS reminded journalists that the sanctions were being eroded at the time given the fact that Saddam had believed himself to be capable of getting them lifted. As a consequence, he had retained the capacity to resume production of WMD. Put to him that the UK could have vetoed the lifting of the sanctions, the PMOS said that he had no intention of getting drawn into a hypothetical discussion. Put to him that he was the one who had introduced the hypothetical element, the PMOS said that he would disagree. He was simply repeating what Charles Duelfer’s report had stated.

Asked if the Prime Minister supported Patricia Hewitt’s apology for including incorrect information in the dossier on WMD, the PMOS said that whatever form of words journalists wished to choose, one thing was clear: had the Government expressed regret at what had proven to be mistaken information? Answer – yes. However, what our critics were really after was an apology and an expression of regret for the war. That was something which the Government was not prepared to do because we believed that the fundamental reasons why we had gone to war in the first place remained as valid today as they were at the time. We were continuing our efforts to achieve a democracy in Iraq. As Afghanistan had shown, it was possible for society to move from a totalitarian regime to a democracy. Yes it was difficult, but as we had learned, perseverance had a big role to play. For all the controversy there had been, the scale of what had been achieved in Afghanistan should not be under-estimated.

Asked to set out the ‘legal doctrine’ under which the Coalition would go to war in the future in the light of the findings of the ISG report, the PMOS said that the ‘legal doctrine’ for the Iraq war had not changed. As we had underlined at the time, it was the failure of Saddam to comply with UN Resolution 1441 – as well as other UN Resolutions over a not insignificant period of twelve years. Asked if he was implying that we would go to war against anyone else who failed to fulfil UN Resolutions, the PMOS said that it was important to look at each situation on a case by case basis. In this instance, it was important to recognise that the UN had unanimously signed up to Resolution 1441 on the basis that all members had known what the consequences of non-compliance would be. Put to him that the Attorney General had required written evidence from the Prime Minister of a risk to the UK before giving his agreement to go to war, the PMOS said that the Attorney General had given his legal advice that war was justified.

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

1 Comment »

  1. And Jack Straw has just said that the ‘spooks’ have withdrawn the 45 minute deployment claim.

    I’m getting to the point where I am lost for words [hooray I hear]

    What a poor poor poor poor sad sad sad sad useless load of politicians we suffer under.

    War Crimes Tribunal sounds like a useful next step.

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 12 Oct 2004 on 1:14 pm | Link

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