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Breakfast with Frost
Michael Ancram MP, shadow foreign secretary
Michael Ancram MP, shadow foreign secretary
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: MICHAEL ANCRAM, MP SHADOW FOREIGN SECRETARY OCTOBER 20TH, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now with us is Michael Ancram who is the Shadow Foreign Secretary. Well you heard what Baroness Amos had to say, were you convinced by that or do you think there are still just as many questions?

MICHAEL ANCRAM: I think that if anything there are more questions now than there were three or four days ago, because we keep on hearing different information from different ministers. We had a situation on Tuesday last week when the Prime Minister said there was really no available evidence that could have warned about this. On Thursday, that in effect was said again by the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, but Downing Street then announced that there had been this warning about six islands - that's six out of 6000 islands which are inhabited in Indonesia - and that they did know that one of those was Bali. And I think what we've got to do now is to ensure that we learn from what has happened over the last week. The Americans were changing their advice on the basis of their information, we apparently did not do so. We need to ask why. And I have called for a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow from the Foreign Secretary. I think it's absolutely imperative that he is here in the House of Commons to answer these questions because not only is it in the public interest to know that our intelligence is working properly and that we're acting properly on it, but I think it's also in the interest of the people who are bereaved and injured in this terrible murderous attack to know that the government actually did all that was necessary to protect them.

DAVID FROST: And if they didn't, obviously they were putting British lives in danger, obviously, if they didn't take every step.

MICHAEL ANCRAM: If they didn't. But as I'm saying, what we need to have is answers to questions. Why are we getting these different accounts of what the intelligence did show? Why didn't we do what the Americans did as a result of whatever information was available - and they managed to protect their citizens, obviously more effectively than we did ours. These are questions we have to have answers to. I have been involved, as you know, in my past political life in Northern Ireland were we had atrocities of these sorts happening, and quite rightly it was in the public interest to know that the government was using all the intelligence information available in order to protect its citizens. It's the same here. We are not getting the information we need from the government, we're getting a confused and tangled tale, we need a statement where we can actually question the Foreign Secretary and get the answers.

DAVID FROST: Because the difference seems to be that the US, confirmed in various of the papers today, very specific warnings and as we heard there the government at the moment has really not gone beyond the generic - have they? I mean that's the difference in the two accounts.

MICHAEL ANCRAM: Not - the word generic is a very strange one, as I said, because if six islands, one of which was Bali, is generic, you have to explain how that is generic when there are 6000 inhabited islands, and out of those 6000, six apparently were identified, including Bali. And I would have thought that was specific information upon which action should have been taken. But I haven't got the answers. I want to hear from the government what those answers are. What we're getting at the moment, we've heard from Baroness Amos, who I congratulate on going out there, I think she's done absolutely the right thing to go out there and to talk to people on the spot, but we've heard a different account from her from that which we've heard from the Prime Minister, Downing Street, from that which we heard on the two different versions from the Foreign Secretary, and very different accounts to those we're reading about in the newspaper today. There is confusion and that confusion must now be cleared up.

DAVID FROST: Somebody said to that this shows us - Bali shows us that we can't, we can't keep two wars running, we can't keep a war on terrorism going and at the same time a war on Saddam, or on Iraq. Do you think that's nonsense, or a wise warning?

MICHAEL ANCRAM: I think they're all wars on terror. I think we've got to understand, and I think this point has been made very clearly by a number of people who are closely involved in this, that Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction are just as much about terror and using terror in order to achieve political aims, as we see with the invisible enemy of international terrorism. What is absolutely clear, and it comes through in the questions you were asking earlier, is that there is no dividing line within terrorism. Terrorism is a sort of, it's an octopus, it has many tentacles - that whether it was al-Qaeda involved in Indonesia or Jemaah Islamiah, we know that they are connected, we know that Saddam Hussein has backed terrorists in the Middle East, there is a pattern of terror which has to be dealt with wherever it arises.

DAVID FROST: Well at this point, Michael, we'll come back if we have time at the end, we're going to join the Prime Minister of Australia, where they're calling the Bali attack, of course, their September the 11th.

[INTERVIEW WITH JOHN HOWARD]

DAVID FROST: Michael, thank you very much for being with us.

INTERVIEW ENDS

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