Sir: I note with wry amusement that the damage limitation exercise that followed the leak of Lord Justice Scott's report conforms to a traditional pattern. First, all wrongdoing is strenuously denied. Then, it is claimed, that even if mistakes may have been made, "in a grey area", they were unimportant. Finally, it is claimed, that even if they were important, they happened a long time ago and anyway, even if Lord Justice Scott had the powers and rights to conduct his inquiry as he did, he should have used his discretion differently.
The basis question concerns that famous "grey area". Why was it grey? I suggest that grey areas are inevitable whenever a government tries to pursue simultaneously incompatible policies. In this case, we were anxious to observe the weapons embargo to Iraq and even more anxious to encourage the lucrative arms trade. So, to say that this is how governments work in the real world, is merely begging the most fundamental question about administrative integrity.
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