[Media-watch] Dyke pens apology for Blair - Guardian and partial
transcript - 19/10/2004
jadavies2004 at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Oct 19 22:49:28 BST 2004
Dyke pens apology for Blair
Matt Wells, media correspondent
Tuesday October 19, 2004
If Tony Blair has been struggling to find a way to say sorry for the way in
which he presented the case for war on Iraq, he could turn to Greg Dyke for
Not that he is likely to be happy with the result: a draft apology unveiled
last night by the former BBC director general runs to 581 words and covers
10 specific issues.
Giving the James Cameron memorial lecture at City University in London, Mr
Dyke called on the prime minister to admit, among other things, the absence
of any evidence to support the claims that Saddam Hussein had an "active and
growing" programme of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Dyke also said Mr Blair should say sorry for describing one of the
dossiers that made the case for war as an "intelligence report" when it was
"bogus information which Alastair Campbell's department had found on the
In his lecture, sponsored by the Guardian, he advises Mr Blair to say:
"Incidentally, I am also sorry that I didn't fire Alastair Campbell for
incompetence when I found this out."
Mr Dyke was forced out of his job after last year's row with the government
over a Today programme story based on concerns expressed by the government
weapons expert David Kelly. He said it would have been craven for the BBC to
accept a deal "offered by Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair himself" which
would have meant saying the Gilligan story, following which Dr Kelly
committed suicide, was wrong.
Mr Dyke said: "Would we have known what we know now about Iraq had it not
been for Dr Kelly meeting Andrew GIlligan in the Charing Cross hotel that
May day last year? I think the answer has to be no. Further, would we have
known it at all if Gavyn Davies and I had agreed to the deal offered by
Greg Dyke - The apologies Tony Blair should make
A partial transcript of Greg Dyke's speech at the James Cameron Memorial
Lecture at City University, London on 18 October 2004
"In the last couple of weeks we have suddenly found ourselves in the season
of apology. The government has decided it is time to start eating just a
little bit of humble pie over Iraq. It started at the Labour Party
conference with the begrudging apology from Tony Blair followed by Patricia
Hewitt, Jack Straw and lastly the Prime Minister again.
"But so far, all they have said is, 'we are sorry the information we gave
you was wrong'. That simply won't wash. No one in government has yet taken
responsibility for it being wrong.
"If we just take the evidence we now know to be true we can put together the
apology Tony Blair should make if he seriously wants to set the record
straight and put the matter behind him. If he does that - and only I think
if he does that - can he move on, can we all move on and certainly can I
"In all I think he needs to make apologies on at least 10 specific issues.
Incidentally, none of these require him to say he lied and none requires him
saying he regrets getting rid of Saddam Hussein.
"They go something like this:
"I am sorry that I said on several occasions in 2002 that Saddam Hussein's
weapons of mass destruction policy was active and growing. I now accept that
the British intelligence services had found no new evidence to support that
position when I made those statements.
"I am sorry that on making those announcements I put pressure on the
intelligence services to find more information from sources in Iraq to
support my position. I now know this led to them using unreliable sources
whose evidence was later shown to be wrong and withdrawn. Incidentally, I am
also sorry that no one in government explained to Lord Hutton that this
evidence had already been withdrawn when he was conducting his inquiry into
the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly thus leaving him in
ignorance of the real fact.
"I am sorry that when the head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, told Alastair
Campbell and I, personally, that a new source had come forward who supported
the view that Saddam's WMD programme was up and running again. I'm sorry
that I ignored the fact that he also told us this source was unproven.
Instead I used this new evidence to tell the British people that I knew more
about the weapons of mass destruction than I could tell them. I now know I
"I am sorry that I didn't understand what the claim that Saddam Hussein had
weapons of mass destruction that could be fired within 45 minutes actually
meant and I am sorry that I didn't question the claim -as a prime minister I
should have done. If I had questioned it I would have discovered that
British interests were not threatened by these weapons and that the
justification I made to the House of Commons and the people of Britain for
going to war in Iraq was therefore wrong.
"I am sorry that I wasn't listening to Robin Cook when he told me in a
private conversation that having talked to the head of the Joint
Intelligence Committee it was clear to him that Saddam didn't have weapons
of mass destruction which could threaten Britain's interests and in fact the
short range weapons he possessed were only a threat to Britain if we
"I am sorry that the caveats which qualified the intelligence which we
planned to use in our first dossier on Iraq were mysteriously not included
in the document itself. I accept that some of these were omitted at the
suggestion of my staff.
"I am sorry that in the House of Commons I described the second dossier we
published on Iraq as an intelligence report when it was no such thing. It
was bogus information which Alastair Campbell and his department had found
on the internet and changed to suggest Saddam supported terrorist groups -
oh, incidentally, I am also sorry that I didn't fire Alastair Campbell for
incompetence when I found this out but I should have done.
"I am sorry I allowed John Scarlett to be appointed the new head of MI6 when
it was already clear when he was head of the Joint Intelligence Committee he
allowed many of these errors to happen in his efforts to please me.
"Finally, I am sorry that I described Andrew Gilligan's story as a mountain
of untruth in the House of Commons I now recognise that wasn't the case. I'm
also sorry that I told Lord Hutton that if Andrew Gilligan's story had been
true I would have had to resign - because I haven't."
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