» Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Butler Report

Asked again about handling arrangements for the Butler Report tomorrow, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said Lord Butler had indicated that he would begin his press conference at around 12.30pm. With the permission of the Speaker, we were anticipating that the Prime Minister would make his Statement at about 1.30pm, depending on Business in the House. Asked if the Prime Minister had received a copy of the Report yet, the PMOS said that he hadn’t received a final copy of the Report at this stage. He would do so at some point today. It was up to the Inquiry team to decide when that might be. Asked when the Opposition Leaders would be able to see the Report, the PMOS said that they would be given access to it from 6am tomorrow. Questioned as to whether PMQs would be postponed, the PMOS said no. It would take place as usual at midday tomorrow. Asked if the Prime Minister or his office had had any contact with Lord Butler in recent days, the PMOS said he had absolutely no intention of providing a running commentary on the minutiae of this issue. The Report would be published tomorrow.

Asked to describe the seriousness with which the Prime Minister would consider the findings of the Report, the PMOS said that the Butler Inquiry had been set up to do a serious job. However, we were not going to comment in advance of its publication. Like Downing Street, journalists should exercise a little patience and await Lord Butler’s conclusions.

Asked if the Prime Minister had had an opportunity to read the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on US intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war which had been published last week, the PMOS said that the Senate report was a matter for the US. We were focussing on the Butler Report and would respond to it in due course.

Asked if the Prime Minister regretted approving the appointment of John Scarlett as the next head of MI6 in advance of the Butler Report, the PMOS said that he had been asked last week if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Mr Scarlett, the answer to which had been yes. That position had not changed.

Asked if the Prime Minister would brief HM Queen on the contents of the Report during the weekly Audience this evening, the PMOS said that he had no intention of breaching a long-standing convention on never divulging what was discussed during such meetings.

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

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