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Tories step up push for Iraq inquiry

Jul 10 2003


The Government has come under increasing pressure to hold an independent inquiry into the Iraq war, after insisting that "concrete evidence" of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction would be found.

Former Prime Minister John Major and the current Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, both repeated calls for an independent probe after reports that Britain believed it would not find WMD in Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said the premier was "absolutely confident" that material would be found which would have justified United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix securing a fresh Security Council resolution if his inspection team had found it.

Mr Blair's spokesman added: "The Prime Minister believes and is absolutely confident that we will find material that, had Hans Blix found it, would have justified him going back to the Security Council and having a further UN resolution issued.

"The Prime Minister is also absolutely confident that we will find evidence not only of his WMD programmes but concrete evidence of the product of those programmes as well."

Mr Major, who supported military action, said unanswered questions continued to "bubble around" about the information on which ministers took the country into war, and said only an independent inquiry could restore public trust in the Government.

"Unless this is cleared up there is a danger that, were a similar circumstance to arise, Parliament and public would not have the faith they have had in the past," he said.

Speaking in the Czech Republic, Mr Duncan Smith said he was concerned about suggestions that weapons of mass destruction might never be found in Iraq.

He said: "I think the implications are quite grave. The Government has never at any stage announced such a statement.

"We would therefore need more than ever that inquiry we have called for, that judicial inquiry, to look very carefully now at what information was presented to the British people, why it was presented, and what the Government actually did with that information."


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