In today’s Daily Mail Peter Oborne makes an extremely serious claim against Tony Blair – that he lied to Parliament about the Government’s knowledge of American troops abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib.
In May 2004, the Prime Minister said during PMQs:
"It is not correct that ministers or I were aware of those allegations in respect of American troops."
Mr Oborne counters [my bold highlights]:
"Last week, Bill Rammell, who, at the time, was a junior Foreign Office minister and has recently been promoted to minister of state, issued a statement confirming that he had known the truth.
He had been briefed during a meeting in Geneva by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had been investigating the abuses.
This meeting took place seven weeks before the atrocities became public knowledge and Abu Ghraib became a byword for American brutality.
To his credit, Rammell says he was so shocked by the revelations that he immediately convened an emergency meeting of Foreign Office officials.
In his statement, he said: ‘I was assured that defence ministers were already aware of the allegations and that actions were being taken by the Ministry of Defence to deal with the allegations, which was the case.’
The minister’s comments this week were released in response to my column last Saturday, in which I accused him of doing nothing.
I now accept, in view of his fresh explanation, that Rammell behaved in a better light than I had suggested. But the irony is that, in the process of saving his own skin, he has impugned the honesty of his old boss, Tony Blair."
Peter Oborne makes the point that the ministerial code stated unequivocally that all ministers were expected "to give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity".
No such correction has been made.