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Blair escapes

Hutton report clears Blair and government of misdeeds Tony Blair emerged triumphant from what was potentially his worst week in politics - with a narrow victory on a key policy (top-up fees for university students) on Tuesday and the publication of the Hutton report on Wednesday.

A triumphant Tony Blair declared today that all those who have accused him of lying must apologize and that all those who suggested that the government was anything other than honest during the process are the real liars.

However, only those who do not understand the issues could have hoped for Tony Blair to resign this week. The Hutton Report is not an analysis of the causis belli for the war against Iraq, but rather, as its title stipulates, "Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly C.M.G. by Lord Hutton".

Dr. David Kelly, the UK's chief expert on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, had been named in the BBC programme Today, by the BBC's defense analyst Andrew Gilligan, as the source which had claimed that the government's dossier on Iraq's WMD was "sexed up".

There ensued an outcry, with Downing Street in general and Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's Director of Communications, in particular, being accused of falsifying evidence from intelligence to present an unjustified cause for war against Iraq.

A House of Commons Committee in July interviewed those involved, including Dr. Kelly, whose body was found in a wood two days later. Tony Blair immediately ordered an independent investigation into the circumstances of the death and this was the basis for today's report.

The report concludes that Dr. Kelly took his own life because he was worried about his role in giving classified information to the media, feeling that his job and life's work was at risk.

Regarding the BBC, Lord Hutton concludes that there is no evidence at all to suggest that the government "sexed-up" intelligence reports on WMD in Iraq and that the BBC's claims were unfounded. As a result, today, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC, Gavyn Davies, resigned.

The government's behaviour in calling for Dr. Kelly to be interviewed by the Commons Committee was correct, concludes Lord Hutton, who concludes that there is no evidence to suggest that the Prime Minister and his government behaved in anything but a correct manner during the process.

For those who hoped for the fall of Tony Blair, and the subsequent pressure being placed on George Bush, they were making a mountain out of a molehill because the issue at stake in the Hutton Report was not about whether it was right or wrong to go to war with Iraq, nor whether the intelligence presented created a causus belli.

This is another more serious issue which has yet to be addressed - if indeed anyone has the courage to bring it up in the proper forum of law.

 

John ASHTEAD
PRAVDA.Ru

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