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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Minister's statement in full
The armed forces minister Adam Ingram has promised MPs "no stone will be left unturned" in the inquiry into photos allegedly showing UK troops abusing an Iraqi.

Here is the full text of his statement to the Commons:


Any decent thinking person will have been disturbed by photographs published in the Daily Mirror on Saturday which appear to show the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers.

From the outset, we have taken the allegations seriously and taken the photographs at face value and will continue to do so unless there is evidence to the contrary.

A special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police was immediately informed and an investigation launched.

If British soldiers are found to have acted unlawfully then appropriate action will be taken

RMP special investigation branch teams are currently following up lines of inquiry in Iraq, in the UK and in Cyprus where the First Battalion of the Queen's Lancashire regiment are currently based.

Investigating officers are in touch with the Daily Mirror to see what further information that they have that might help get to the bottom of the incident.

Today, the Daily Mirror have handed over a total of some 20 photographs.

It would be wrong for me to speculate about the outcome of this investigation which must be allowed to take its course.

As right honourable and honourable members will be aware, it is not appropriate for ministers to interfere with police investigations.

I can assure the House, however, that if British soldiers are found to have acted unlawfully then appropriate action will be taken.

There have been suggestions that such investigations are not being pursued properly or are unduly slow - I believe this to be unfair
But our immediate priority is to establish the truth as quickly as possible.

It is why I would urge individuals with relevant information to come forward. We are determined to leave no stone unturned.

The House will know that a number of other allegations have been made concerning the treatment of Iraqi prisoners and Iraqi civilians, some of which have resulted in fatalities.

These are also serious matters which are being thoroughly investigated.

There have been suggestions that such investigations are not being pursued properly or are unduly slow. I believe this to be unfair to the investigating personnel.

Many of these investigations require detailed work to be undertaken in difficult and often dangerous circumstances.

They cannot and should not rushed. I am confident they are being carried out properly.

It is my intention, Mr Deputy Speaker, to release as much further detail as possible on all of these incidents, bearing in mind the rights of all those involved.

It would be quite wrong to prejudice this process by applying undue pressure for haste or indeed to point the finger of guilt outside the due process of law.

Thousands of service personnel have served in Iraq over the past 14 months. They have done an exceptional job in testing circumstances
The Daily Mirror article will have caused some people to question the integrity of British soldiers and the validity of their mission in Iraq.

Thousands of service personnel have served in Iraq over the past 14 months. They have done an exceptional job in testing circumstances and in turn have secured the support of the majority of Iraqis.

I hope that right honourable and honourable members will join me in paying tribute to the superb work our Armed Forces are doing both in Iraq and elsewhere around the world.

While treating these allegations with full seriousness, we should not allow them to colour our judgment of the quality or integrity of our troops or of the Army as a whole.

At best, such allegations... undermine the progress we have made and our coalition partners in moving Iraq forward
Mr Deputy Speaker, very grave allegations have been made to challenge the reputation of the British Army both here, in Iraq and elsewhere. We must ascertain the truth or otherwise.

At best, such allegations undermine the excellent work which our Armed Forces are doing under the most difficult conditions today in Iraq.

It undermines the progress we have made and our coalition partners in moving Iraq forward from the tyranny the Iraqi people suffered under Saddam Hussein.

Our forces serve with distinction throughout the world, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, the Balkans, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

Their achievements and professionalism are rightly praised worldwide. That is why we must establish the truth or otherwise of these allegations.



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