PEACE campaigners dismissed Cabinet Minister Patricia Hewitt's apology for the inaccuracy of the intelligence used to justify the illegal war on Iraq yesterday as "worthless."
The Trade and Industry Secretary, appearing on the BBC programme Question Time on Thursday night, sparked gasps of disbelief from the studio audience when she said that her apology was on behalf of Prime Minister Tony Blair and the whole Cabinet.
However, Ms Hewitt first tried to claim that the government had already apologised, but this was fiercely challenged by members of the audience - one shouted: "You haven't."
Ms Hewitt was referring to Mr Blair's conference speech, in which he said that he could apologise but stopped short of actually doing so.
There was loud and prolonged applause for a woman who said of the Premier's comment: "That is saying: 'I'm able to apologise, but I'm not actually apologising'."
Ms Hewitt was then forced to give her full apology.
"From the Prime Minister down, all of us who were involved in making an incredibly difficult decision are very sorry and do apologise for the fact that that information was wrong, but I don't think that we were wrong to go in," the minister said.
The Iraq Survey Group report, which was published on Wednesday night, confirmed that Saddam Hussein had had no weapons of mass destruction at the time of last year's attack.
Voices UK - a campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people - said that the apology was "no compensation" to thousands of Iraqi people who have lost their loved ones and are suffering in the ruins that was once their country.
Its joint co-ordinator Gabriel Carlyle said that Mr Blair's claim that he is now fighting a new war in Iraq - a crusade in which the fate of global terrorism will be determined - was nothing but more lies.
"The simple truth is that the US and Britain are fighting Iraqi people, who are practising their international right to resist the invasion and occupation of their country by foreign powers," he insisted.
Labour Against the War member Jeremy Corbyn MP also dismissed the apology as "not good enough" and demanded a "formal and personal" apology from Mr Blair followed by a set date for the withdrawal of troops.
CND chairwoman Kate Hudson agreed, adding: "An admission by the government that the illegal war was wrong is now vital."
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond believes himself vindicated by the High Court ruling that his Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is independent.
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