» Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Iraq pictures

Asked about Adam Ingram’s Statement to the House this afternoon on the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, the PMOS said that Mr Ingram would update MPs on the issue. Everyone was familiar with the current situation. An investigation into the Daily Mirror pictures was ongoing which would take into account all the relevant matters. Obviously we hoped it would report as soon as possible, but it was clearly important to make sure that it was properly carried out.

Asked if the Prime Minister would accept that the damage had already been done, regardless of whether the pictures were genuine or fake, the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had pointed out in Dublin over the weekend, there was no disputing the damage which could be done if the allegations were true. If they were, then it was clear that we did not condone such behaviour. An investigation was ongoing to establish the facts of the case. Questioned further, the PMOS said that everyone in Government would obviously like to see the results of this investigation as soon as possible. However, it was important for people to recognise that it would take a bit of time to do the necessary work. Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that the publication of the pictures would make life difficult for our troops in Basra, the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had underlined in Dublin, no one was under-estimating the seriousness of the allegations. That was why it was necessary to find out whether they were true or not. As both he and Gen Sir Mike Jackson had made clear, we would ask people not to judge the behaviour of our troops on the ground in Iraq on the alleged misbehaviour of a few.

Asked if Downing Street had contacted the Daily Mirror, the PMOS said he had no intention of getting drawn into a discussion about who had spoken to whom. That said, we would ask all the relevant people to co-operate with the investigation. As Gen Sir Mike Jackson had said on Friday, we would ask people to help as much as possible because we wanted to get to the bottom of the issue for the sake of the army’s reputation both at home and abroad. Asked if we would expect the soldiers involved to come forward and identify themselves, the PMOS repeated that we believed everyone had a duty to co-operate. Asked who was carrying out the investigation, the PMOS said that it was being undertaken by the Special Investigations Branch (SIB).

Put to him that Gen Sir Mike Jackson’s media appearance had given credence to the authenticity of the pictures, the PMOS said that Sir Mike had gone on television with the full knowledge and approval of Downing Street. As he had made clear, the allegations were going to be investigated. Given the way the US pictures had been publicised, we had known that the ones in the Daily Mirror were going to be broadcast around the world. It had therefore been judged appropriate for Sir Mike, given his role, to get across the message that, if the pictures were genuine, then in no way did we approve of or condone such behaviour. Asked what course of action would be taken if it was discovered that the photos were fake, the PMOS said that it was better at this point to wait for the results of the investigation before going down that path. Put to him that even if the pictures were fake, the allegations might still be true, the PMOS said that he was not going to get drawn into a speculative discussion about the possible outcome of the investigation. People should exercise a little patience. He underlined once again the view of the Prime Minister and Gen Sir Mike Jackson who had said that they in no way condoned this kind of alleged action.

Asked if the Prime Minister believed that the formal reprimand which had been given to the US troops involved in the original pictures was an appropriate punishment, the PMOS said that how the US authorities dealt with their personnel was entirely a matter for them, just as it would be entirely a matter for us how we dealt with ours. The US should be allowed to get on with their investigation, just as we should be allowed to get on with ours

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


  1. Thank goodness the Daily Mirror published the photographs – fakes or not! It means that now the Brits cannot be pressured into taking over the peace-keeping role in Iraq from the Americans, as would otherwise have been the case.

    We are thus spared putting thousands more British troops into an arena which is fraught with danger, and for what useful purpose ultimately?

    Comment by Patrick Haseldine — 4 May 2004 on 11:59 pm | Link
  2. Erm.

    If they are fakes: The mirror should get its butt sued off. If those photos turn out to be anything other than real, then the Mirror is directly responsible for endangering the lives of millions of people by falsely giving the world the impression that the brits were committing huge human rights violations.

    If a bomb went off tomorrow, thus undersigned as revenge for the acts taken in those British photos, and those photos turned out to be fake, everyone would visibly see that lives were lost because of those photos.

    The reality is, one way or the other, lives are being lost because of those photos; they are successfully, alongside the Americans’ definite human rights violations, converting more moderates to hardline views.

    If the Mirror is wrong on this, and those photos aren’t real, hang them from the yard arm, free press or no. If there’s any culpability whatsoever, every family of every soldier killed after those photos were released should sue them in court for every haypenny the Mirror has made out of the sale of those papers, and more. I’m all for free press – but their freedom ends when innocent people die because they can’t tell the difference between truth and a lie.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 5 May 2004 on 5:15 pm | Link
  3. The mirror should only be sued if it can be shown that they did something wrong. If the Mirror knew that these pictures were false or didn’t bother to do anything more than a cursory check on their authenticity then of course they should be held responsible. But you can’t sue a newspaper just because it publishes a picture that turns out to be untrue – otherwise they would never print a weather forecast!

    Even if these pictures do turn out to be false they have highlighted an issue that was previously being ignored. It turns out that there are plenty of other cases of abuse of Iraqis that are being investigated that have never even been mentioned in the press before.

    Whether or not these photos are true is important but it is nowhere near as important as finding out if US/UK troops are committing atrocities in Iraq.

    I also wouldn’t lay too much blame on these photo’s for increasing resistance to US/UK forces. The Iraqis have been complaining about treatment by soldiers since not longer after the invasion. Just because the western media only pay attention when they’ve got some juicy pictures to show doesn’t mean that Iraqis haven’t already been talking to each other about being beaten up by western soldiers who are supposed to be helping them.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 5 May 2004 on 8:04 pm | Link
  4. I just can’t be as warm and fuzzy about this one, I’m afraid. If those photos weren’t real, and it was within the reasonable power of those who published the photos to know that they were fake, then they should be hit with negligence – regardless of whether or not they *knew* it was a fake.

    If they’re right, they’re heroes. If they’re wrong, I hope they feel the full repercussions of the law, civil or otherwise.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 6 May 2004 on 3:57 am | Link
  5. I think you guys are being fooled by a non-story here. This is the job of the PR companies, retained by the government, to throw up distracting garbage like this — and you get distracted! You fall for it hook, line and sinker. I don’t believe this.

    There are shedloads of much much worse photos coming out in America. Pick which you want. What would be the point in faking any? You’ve speculated at the extreme risk that would be taken with fakes, so why would anyone do it?

    Comment by Julian Todd — 6 May 2004 on 10:21 pm | 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...


May 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Apr   Jun »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh