David Blackburn

MacShane’s contradictory testimony to the Iraq Inquiry

MacShane’s contradictory testimony to the Iraq Inquiry
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A trickle of documents from the Chilcot Inquiry have been released today, among which is the written witness statement of former Europe Minister Denis MacShane.

It's rather intriguing. MacShane told the inquiry that it was his understanding that France 'would not leave the US, Britain and other allies alone in any action against Saddam' and that President Chirac then vetoed military action in the UN at the stroke of the twelfth hour, apparently against the wishes of his colleagues and France's political establishment.

MacShane says he gained this impression after speaking to a senior French official at the Anglo-French summit at Le Touquet on 4 February 2003, six weeks before the invasion. MacShane insists that ‘British officials present received similar assurances’. He also says that important French foreign policy experts and former ministers, including Pierre Lelouche, Dominic Moisi and Bernard Kouchner, ‘all supported US intervention’. He says of Kouchner:

‘Kouchner, in particular, had developed the concept of “le droit d’ingérence” – the right to intervene in a sovereign state when its internal behaviour flouts universal values and UN law.’

Certainly, Kouchner is an avowed liberal interventionist, voluble in his support of President Sarkozy’s actions in Libya. But it seems he was actually opposed to intervention in Iraq. For instance, on 4 February 2003 he co-wrote an article in Le Monde titled: Ni la guerre ni Saddam. Which translates as: 'Neither war nor Saddam'.

MacShane might explain the inconsistency in his evidence.

PS: There are moves to drag Alastair Campbell back into the hot water. Major General Michael Laurie, a senior intelligence officer, told the inquiry that Campbell's dossier was definitely dodgy. Campbell protests his innocence, tweeting that he has nothing to add to his testimony.