Tags: Brown | UK | war | probe

British PM Says 'Nothing to Hide' in War Probe

Wednesday, 13 January 2010 11:02 AM

LONDON — Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted he had "nothing to hide" over the 2003 Iraq war Wednesday, after a public inquiry heard of his key role in planning it.

Speaking a day after Tony Blair's former communications chief gave evidence to the inquiry, Brown also said he stood by decisions taken by the government in the run-up to the conflict.

The prime minister faced angry calls in the House of Commons to give his evidence to the Iraq probe before this year's general election, expected in May, even though its officials say he will not be called until afterwards.

"I have nothing to hide on this matter, I'm happy to give evidence," Brown told lawmakers, adding that he would testify to the Chilcot inquiry when it wanted him to.

Asked if he was sorry for the war, Brown -- who was Blair's finance minister at the time -- said: "I stand by the decisions we made".

But he admitted that mistakes were made in the aftermath of the invasion, led by the United States but to which Britain was the second-biggest contributor of troops.

"I've already said that the reconstruction that was done after the war effort in Iraq was insufficient," he said.

The exchanges came the day after Alastair Campbell, former chief spin doctor to Brown's predecessor Blair, told the Chilcot inquiry Brown was one of the "key ministers" his boss consulted in the run-up to war.

That comment could embarrass Brown, amid reports that senior Labour figures are anxious the inquiry into the unpopular Iraq war could revive uncomfortable memories for the government on the campaign trail.

Brown was facing questions from the second opposition party, the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg labelled the Iraq war "this government's most disastrous decision".

"When the decisions were taken to launch this illegal war, he wasn't only in the room, he was the one who signed the cheques -- he should insist on going to the inquiry now," Clegg said.

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010 11:02 AM
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