Kennedy revels in position of strength

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Charles Kennedy will today use the debate on the Butler report to raise fresh questions about the Prime Minister's judgement in going to war against Iraq.

Charles Kennedy will today use the debate on the Butler report to raise fresh questions about the Prime Minister's judgement in going to war against Iraq.

The Liberal Democrat leader will say Tony Blair should answer new and disturbing questions raised by the inquiry about the way intelligence was used. The Liberal Democrats have been consistently sceptical about Mr Blair's reasons for the war against Iraq. Mr Kennedy not only questioned the legal basis of the invasion, but queried whether Saddam Hussein was, as claimed, a serious threat to Britain. Mr Kennedy will say that the Liberal Democrats were vindicated in refusing to participate in the Butler inquiry on the ground that its terms of reference were too limited and would allow politicians to escape censure. "The more we understand about the Butler report the more we see that there were serious problems about the way the intelligence was used," a spokesman for Mr Kennedy said yesterday.

Before the war Mr Kennedy questioned whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and urged Mr Blair to give the UN weapons inspectors more time to find out. His party counselled against an invasion without the backing of the UN.

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, also gave an early warning in an interview with The Independent about the dangers of ignoring caveats in intelligence briefings from the security services.

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