UK agrees to shield US interests

2010-12-01 16:05

London - Britain's government gave secret assurances to Washington it would limit the scope of an inquiry into the Iraq war to protect US interests, according to diplomatic messages leaked by WikiLeaks on Wednesday.

US embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks reported a British official, Jon Day, as telling US officials in 2009 that Britain had "put measures in place to protect your interests" during the inquiry.

The inquiry was set up by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 to learn lessons from the Iraq conflict, the most controversial episode in the 10-year premiership of Tony Blair, Brown's predecessor.

Critics have long argued that Blair promised former US President George W Bush in April 2002 that Britain would support military action to get rid of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and then exaggerated intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were ever found.

A spokesperson for the inquiry said she would not comment on leaks.

"The Iraq inquiry is independent of the British government. The protocol agreed between the Iraq inquiry and the government allows for material to be withheld from publication if publication would damage international relations," she said.