Now apologise, says Blair

The Prime Minister announced today that the Government was accepting in full Lord Hutton's report into events surrounding the death of weapons expert David Kelly.

In a Commons statement moments after Lord Hutton finished his own statement, Mr Blair told a crowded Commons: "The report itself is an extraordinarily thorough, detailed and clear document.

"It leaves no room for doubt or interpretation. We accept it in full."

Mr Blair arrived in the chamber to a roar of support from his own backbenchers and was cheered again as he rose to speak.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon was also cheered by Labour MPs. Tories sat silent and stony–faced as Mr Blair delivered his detailed statement.

Mr Blair said he had been accused of lying over the dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and lying about the naming of David Kelly.

The charge made against him by BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan could not have been more serious.

"If true it would have meant that I had misled this House."

The truth about the charge was now found. No intelligence was inserted into the dossier by Downing Street.

"The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie."

Those who made the charge should now withdraw it.

Tory leader Michael Howard said Conservatives accepted the conclusions of Lord Hutton's report.

The case for independent regulation of the BBC "has never been stronger", he said, adding: "We have long argued that the board of governors cannot both run and regulate the BBC."

He called for a new independent inquiry into the "wider" questions of how Britain went to war in Iraq – which were beyond Lord Hutton's remit – insisting the case for an inquiry was "overwhelming".

Mr Howard said Lord Hutton's report had made it plain the September dossier had been "on one level sexed up" and that the 45 minute claim had been given "undue prominence".

"Is that not a very serious finding indeed? Does it not go to the heart of the reliance which can be placed on any public intelligence material in the future, at least while you remain Prime Minister?"

The Tory leader added that Mr Blair's claim to reporters immediately after news of Dr Kelly's death that he was not responsible for his naming was, at best, "at odds" with what Lord Hutton concluded.

"It was no wonder that Lord Hutton said there was no plan or strategy to do this covertly, there didn't need to be – it was all going to happen anyway, as night follows day," he said.

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