Blair pledges to quit if proven a liar

The British Prime Minister has said he will resign if it is proven he lied to parliament over the David Kelly affair.

    Blair led his country into the Iraq war against public opinion

    Tony Blair was forced to make the pledge on Wednesday during

     parliamentary questions by

    opposition leader Michael Howard


    The Conservative leader pinned Blair down over suspicions that he authorised the leaking of Kelly's name as the source of a BBC report

     that alleged the government exaggerated the Iraqi weapons threat.  

    The weapons expert killed himself shortly after being outed, hurling

    Blair into the worst political crisis of his more than six years in office.

    "The prime minister has said that a minister in a government he

    leads should resign if that minister lied to parliament," said



    "Does that apply to the prime minister himself?"


    "Of course it (Blair's pledge to resign if proven a liar) applies to me, as it

    applies to all ministers"

    Tony Blair,
    British prime minister


    To which Blair replied: "Of course it applies to me, as it

    applies to all ministers."

    Howard's grilling centred

    on a statement that Blair made to reporters during a tour of East

    Asia four days after Kelly's body was found.

    "I did not authorise the leaking of the name of David Kelly,"

    said Blair on a flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong.

    But the most senior civil servant at

    the Ministry of Defence seemed to contradict Blair's statement when testifying before the inquiry into Kelly's death.

    Sir Kevin Tebbit said Blair had chaired a

    meeting where the decision was taken to expose Kelly to the press, as

    the BBC's source.

    Late submission

    And in giving evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, Blair himself said he took full

    responsibility for the naming of Kelly to two parliamentary

    committees that were looking into the radio report.

    The prime minister was also 

    grilled over a late submission by his government

    to the inquiry

    which is due to report shortly.

    Blair's official spokesman admitted Downing Street had sent

    information to senior judge Lord Hutton after he had concluded

    his investigation last Autumn. But he denied it included any new


    Howard believes Blair could be
    criticised in the Hutton report  

    However, opposition Conservatives demanded its publication and

    accused Blair of trying to pre-empt Hutton's findings.

    Report anticipation

    Speculation is rife that the prime minister's team wanted

    to put their slant on the evidence given by Sir Kevin Tebbit


    Meanwhile, an inquiry official said Lord Hutton would make a statement

    later on Wednesday on the government's intervention.

    British political life is all but frozen in anticipation of

    the report.

    It is due to be released this month and could point

    the finger of blame at senior government figures.


    publication date has been named, serving only to increase the


    SOURCE: Agencies


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