PM refuses to apologise to families of soldiers killed in Iraq

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair yesterday refused to apologise to the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and played down the controversy over the intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons that was withdrawn by MI6.

Tony Blair yesterday refused to apologise to the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and played down the controversy over the intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons that was withdrawn by MI6.

At his monthly press conference, the Prime Minister insisted that the troops had not died in vain. "I have sympathy for anyone who has lost their lives in Iraq," he said. "But I actually do believe that they gave their lives in a cause that was important for our security and for the security of the world."

Mr Blair added: "I still believe that had we backed away from enforcing United Nations resolutions against Iraq, then we would have left, not just Saddam in charge of Iraq, but we would have left Iraq an unsafe, unsecure country that did pose a threat to the region and the world. I can't say I believe that to be wrong."

Asked whether he would say sorry to the families because weapons of mass destruction had not been found in Iraq, he said not all families felt their loved ones had gone to war on a false prospectus.

The Prime Minister did not accept that the Butler inquiry into the pre-war intelligence had found that he had misled people about Iraq's arsenal. "It's certainly not the case that Lord Butler found that we misrepresented the intelligence to people. The opposite is true. The other important thing is to draw attention to the part of Lord Butler's report where he lists the reasons why, indeed, he [Saddam] was a WMD threat."

He disclosed that he knew shortly before the Butler report was published last week that MI6 had withdrawn a piece of evidence about Iraq's ability to make chemical and biological weapons in July last year. Although the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was told last September, Mr Blair was not. Nor was the Hutton inquiry into the death David Kelly.

The Prime Minister said he was not surprised that he had not been told. "I know people will carry on chasing after this ... but there really isn't anything in it," he said. "I think you will find that there is a perfectly sensible explanation."

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