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Breakfast with Frost
Breakfast with Frost on Sunday 01 June 2003 featured an interview with the Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
"They had those weapons systems and were building them up"
On Sunday 01 June 2003, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw MP, vehemently denied media claims that the government exaggerated intelligence reports about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, in order to justify going to war.

Most controversially, the government claimed that such weapons could be deployed within 45 minutes.

"The intelligence certainly wasn't wrong. The evidence is there, it is published. They had those weapons systems and they had been building them up," Mr Straw told Sir David. And he insisted that proof would be provided, to convince the public.

Further evidence will be found

"Will we go on to find further evidence? Yes, I believe that we will." But he added: "Did Saddam destroy some of this evidence? Yes, he almost certainly did do.

"My own opinion about this is that he unquestionably had these weapons systems, but he had also asserted and lied to the international community that he hadn't got them.

"I believe there was therefore a pretty substantial effort being put in the run-up to military action to hide a lot of this stuff and to deceive the international community, even after the military action was over."

Public duped?

Asked about comments by the former International Development Secretary, Clare Short, that the Prime Minister had "duped" the public about the need for military action, Mr Straw said:

"I am sorry that Clare has come to that conclusion, but I happen to think that she is wrong. I obviously appreciate why Clare should now be trying to argue that the original position she took was the justified one, not the subsequent position she took when she supported military action.

But there was never a question in Cabinet or outside where we said we would recommend military action on the basis of what we might find if and when military action had taken place."

Also on the programme

Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Affairs
Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Affairs
Chris Patten - the EU Commissioner for External Relations - called on world leaders to show "generosity of spirit" in order to overcome the diplomatic rifts caused by the war in Iraq.

He told Sir David that the trans-Atlantic relationship between Europe and America was "absolutely crucial for most of the things we want to achieve in the world" and neither side could afford to let it break down.

"It is terribly important that we put what were genuine disagreements behind us and recognise that in alliances and partnerships you are entitled to have your own opinions and sometimes you will fall out, but by and large you give one another the benefit of the doubt," he said.

Mr Patten also talked about the draft European Constitution published last week by the former French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing. He insisted there was nothing in the document to warrant a referendum in Britain.

"Referendums are fundamentally anti-democratic in our system and I won't have anything to do with them," he said.

Lady Jane Rayne, & Peter Dimmock
Lady Jane Rayne, and Peter Dimmock
Other guests included the Arctic explorer Pen Hadow

The programme marked the 50th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation with an interview with Lady Jane Rayne - who served as one of Her Majesty's Maids of Honour during the ceremony - and Peter Dimmock, who masterminded the BBC's coverage of the occasion.

The newspapers were reviewed by Allison Pearson and Matthew Parris.


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