Session 2003-04, 5 May 2004
DEFENCE COMMITTEE TO CALL DAILY MIRROR EDITOR TO GIVE EVIDENCE
The Defence Committee has previously announced that we will be following up our Lessons of Iraq Report with an inquiry into the continuing operations in Iraq. An important element of that inquiry was always going to be relations between British forces and the civilian population. Detailed terms of reference for this inquiry will be issued in due course.
In the last few days serious allegations have been made about the conduct of certain British troops in Iraq. We shared the public reaction of shock and outrage at the acts portrayed in the pictures published on 1 May in the Daily Mirror.
If those pictures are genuine the perpetrators must be identified and dealt with appropriately under the law. We support entirely the determination of Ministers and army chiefs that these matters should be thoroughly investigated by the special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police. It is incumbent on the Daily Mirror to cooperate fully with these investigations.
Yesterday the Minister for the Armed Forces undertook to provide to the House as much information as he could on these and other similar investigations. In return he asked the House and the public at large to bear in mind the rights of everyone associated with what may be a legal process. The Defence Committee has consistently taken the view that its inquiries should not cut across or interfere with police investigations.
In the meantime the fact remains that the damaging effects of these allegations, whether they are true or not, will continue to be felt. They risk placing our service personnel currently serving in Iraq in still greater danger. They risk making the job they are there to do even more difficult. We do not believe that this is an acceptable situation.
We have decided that we will take an early opportunity to call the Editor of the Daily Mirror to appear before us. This will give him a chance to substantiate his newspaper's allegations. It will enable us to satisfy ourselves whether he and his staff have acted responsibly in how they have handled this matter. We will hold this session in the context of our already announced inquiry into the continuing operations in Iraq.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Bruce George MP (Chairman), Mr Crispin Blunt MP, Mr James Cran MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Mike Gapes MP, Mr Mike Hancock CBE MP, Dai Havard MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Mr Frank Roy MP, Rachel Squire MP, Peter Viggers MP
2. News Release: No.22
Media Officer: Adele Brown 020 7219 0724
Committee Website: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/defence_committee.cfm
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