Asked if there were any further updates on the British aircraft which crashed yesterday in Iraq, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said no. The MOD had released the list of casualties and that was really all we could say at this stage. Put to him that we should know by now the cause of the crash, the PMOS said that he understood why people were impatient; there was however a question of securing the area which was out of our area of control. Also, without wishing to be graphic, the debris was spread over quite a wide area and that had to be collected and analysed. Put to him that if it had been a mechanical failure then the pilot could have sent a distress message to people on the ground, the PMOS said that as he had stressed this morning, people shouldn't jump to conclusions. That still remained the position. We hoped to clarify the situation as quickly as possible.
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the latest news from both the Hercules crash and also the Iraqi elections. Regarding the crash, he told them that there was no further news at the moment, but the MOD were hopefully going update on the situation later in the day. He said there were difficulties surrounding the crash, as it was not in our area of control, and also the need to let families know.
Asked if the Prime Minister was going to publicly apologise to Gerard Conlon, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had set out his view in a letter to the SDLP last year. In the letter, he recognised there had been a miscarriage of justice and regretted the impact that had on the Conlon family. The Prime Minister was quite happy to repeat that publicly.
Asked why the Prime Minister had travelled to Davos last week in a "flying palace", the PMOS pointed out the Prime Minister needed to be back in time for the Holocaust Memorial Day service, and an RAF plane could not have made the journey in the required time.
Asked to clarify if animal rights protesters who target life scientists would be subject to a home detention order, or not, the PMOS said he did not get drawn into hypothetical situations. He pointed out that the control orders would be used sparingly, but he would not speculate on those circumstances.
Asked what the Prime Minister would say to the large number of people who believed that the Iraq war had done more harm than good to Iraq, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that we were on the eve of an election in Iraq. You would have to check the history books for the last one, but there certainly hadn't been a democratic election in Iraq for many, many years. The Government saw that as a great step forward.
Asked how the Prime Minister reacted to Gerry Adams' remarks this morning saying that he would not go to Chequers to be lectured by the Prime Minister, the PMS said that since the meeting was still going it would not be appropriate to talk about it just yet. When we had something to say we would say it. Asked if Gerry Adams had been banned from Downing Street and meeting at Chequers could be seen as a snub, the PMS said that she didn't see it has a snub. It was an important meeting, taking place at Chequers. She was not aware that Mr Adams had been banned from Downing Street.
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