Blair shrugs off questions ahead of Butler report

Last updated at 16:40 13 July 2004

Prime Minister Tony Blair was handed his copy of the long-awaited Butler report after a news conference and talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The PM said he did not accept he had been fed "duff" intelligence on Iraq, as Westminster waited for Lord Butler's verdict on intelligence on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.

The premier told reporters: "We can have a debate about some of the specific issues that have been raised tomorrow."

The Prime Minister stressed he did not "dis-respect" those who were against the Iraq war but by the same token he did not expect those against the conflict to "dis-respect" those who supported it.

Mr Blair told reporters the world was better off and "more secure" without Saddam in office.

Lord Butler is due to publish his report into the use of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the war with Iraq at 12.30pm tomorrow.

The Prime Minister will read a statement to MPs an hour later.

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler was asked to investigate the intelligence available globally on WMD, the accuracy of WMD intelligence relating to Iraq up to March 2003 when conflict began, and any discrepancies between that intelligence and the findings of the post-war Iraq Survey Group.

Lord Butler was also tasked with making recommendations on the future gathering and evaluation of WMD intelligence.

Opposition parties will be able to see the report under tightly controlled conditions from 6am tomorrow.

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