» Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Iraq pictures

Asked if the Prime Minister would follow the example of President Bush and agree to be interviewed by Arab media, the PMOS said he was not aware of any plans for him to do so at this stage. We had made our position very clear on this issue on Friday. In the first instance, it was important for the allegations to be investigated properly. If they were found to be correct, we had made it absolutely clear that we did not condone such actions, but condemned them.

Asked to comment on the latest allegations of torture against Iraqi prisoners, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister and President Bush had both made it clear that they would condemn the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners. We had also said that individual cases should be investigated and the truth established. We awaited the results of the SIB investigation.

Asked what measures the Government would take against the Daily Mirror to pressurise the paper into releasing the identities of those responsible for the photographs coming to light, the PMOS said that he had no intention of getting drawn into a public commentary on what private individuals should do. As he had said yesterday, we believed that people had a duty to co-operate with the investigations that were taking place. It was up to them to judge what that meant. Asked if the Prime Minister believed that the Editor of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan, should appear before the Defence Select Committee, the PMOS repeated that he had absolutely no intention of commenting on what individuals or individual organisations should do, other than to say that people had a duty to co-operate with the inquiries that were taking place. The most important thing to do at this stage was to establish the truth, whatever the truth might be. Asked why he was refusing to personalise the issue, the PMOS said he thought it was better for the Government to allow the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) to get on with its task, rather than lay itself open to claims that it was dictating the course of the investigation. It was important for that investigation to be carried out in a rigorous and independent way so that the truth could be established. That was our primary goal. Asked if the Government supported the proposal by the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee to summons Mr Morgan, the PMOS said that what the Defence Select Committee did was entirely a matter for them. Asked if Downing Street had been in contact with Mr Morgan, the PMOS said not as far as he was aware.

Asked for a reaction to the suggestion that the Government did not believe that the European Convention on Human Rights would apply to British forces in Iraq after 30 June, the PMOS said that these were matters which would no doubt be the subject of further discussions, not least involving Lakhdar Brahimi whom the Prime Minister had met on Monday evening.

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

1 Comment »

  1. As time goes on the pictures published by the Daily Mirror look as dodgy as the government’s dossier.

    I’d be surprised if abuses didn’t go on during a war, and when found they should not be tolerated. But experts say the pictures the Daily Mirror published are very suspicious.

    One allegation made on BBC’s Question Time last night was that The Sun had the abuse story over a month ago. And that the Mirror pictures appear to ‘illustrate’ it.

    So did hoaxers just reconstruct what they’d read in The Sun and sell it to the Daily Mirror for a large amount of money?

    Today the Daily Mirror publishes another story about abuse of prisoners. That story may well be true, but it doesn’t relate to the original photographs. Incidentally, in the last interview I saw that Piers Morgan gave he too was saying that the pictures ‘illustrate’ the abuse that is going on in Iraq, and he seems to be busy trying to put the focus on the abuse rather than the photographs.

    It would be the easiest thing in the world to prove the provenance of those photographs, yet Piers Morgan and the Daily Mirror refuse to do it. I suspect it will be Piers Morgan rather than the Prime Minister who will be offering apologies over this issue, if not his resignation.

    Comment by Mr Average — 7 May 2004 on 12:52 pm | Link

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