Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hutton report, Labour apologies

Labour Mps apologise in "Cheriegate 2" fiasco

Chris Bryant and James Purnell the two Labour MPs behind the private Labour fundraising event have apologised for the auctioning of the Hutton report signed by Cherie Blair and Alistair Campbell, they say they regret causing any offence.
During Prime Minister's Questions Conservative MP Robert Goodwill was told by Tony Blair "I don't think any offence was intended."
Also, Gisela Stuart, Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston and a member of the Committee which quizzed Dr David Kelly, has just called on the Labour Party to give the 400 pounds from auctioning the copy of the Hutton Report signed by Cherie Blair to charity. She was speaking on Radio 5 Live.

The Prime Minister's response falls way too short, he should issue a public apology to the Kelly family, on behalf of his wife, and on behalf of the Labour Party. As Party Leader he should also insist that an equivalent amount to that raised at the event should be donated by Labour to an appropriate charity, such as the Samaritans. Those who were partly responsible for the public exposure of Dr. Kelly (and his subsequent suicide) should be able to draw a line under this affair in an honourable manner.

We also need to get down to the bottom of who paid for the copy of the Hutton report offered for auction, and who the winning bidder was and what they intended to do with it. It is to be hoped that the copy of the report was bought from HMSO at the standard 70 pound rate.

Alice Thompson's article in The Daily Telegraph

I never thought that I would want Sir Edward Heath back, but it would be more relaxing to have a Prime Minister who didn't have a wife or children. First there was the 50,000 pounds scholarship for Euan Blair to go to Yale. Now it is Cherie's turn.

Her dress sense, her taste for Belgravia squares and her enjoyment of crystals are up to her. But it is what she does in the name of the country and the Labour Party that is so irritating.

It is not just the hairdressing bills. Signing a copy of the Hutton report, especially if it was for a Labour Party fundraiser, was in amazingly bad taste.

Mrs Blair and Tony Blair's former chief spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, attended a fund-raising auction being held by the pensions minister James Purnell.

Their copy of the report raised 400 pounds, but the auctioneer, the MP Chris Bryant, promised that it would raise more if resold on eBay. But the Hutton report isn't a cricket bat or a bottle of whisky.

If Mrs Blair had wanted to, she could have given away something of her own. Instead, she donated a report into the suicide of a government scientist, Dr David Kelly, who had been hounded by her husband for leaking the truth and had decided to take his life.

His widow, Janice Kelly, said he had become: "Distracted, dejected, desperate. He had a broken heart."

She and her three daughters should not have to read that the Labour Party has profited from his death.

I have expressed my feelings on the matter to the Prime Minister, and suggest that anyone else who feels this matter was in such poor taste and displayed terrible judgement by his wife and former press aide should email him - here.

There is also an online petition available to sign - here.


BBC News
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