PRIME MINISTER – TOM KELLY – 28 April 2004

Dr Julian Lewis: What account he took of Lord Hutton's criticism of Mr. Tom Kelly when he decided to promote him.

The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman has asked me about this matter before. My reply remains the same.

Dr Lewis: It is incorrect to say that I have asked the Prime Minister about his decision to promote Tom Kelly after Lord Hutton denounced his conduct as wholly improper – I have not. Did he compare and contrast the treatment when Jo Moore was forced to apologise for defaming the dead with the treatment given to his chief press officer, who likewise defamed the dead? When apologies are made, should they not be made freely, rather than when forced by the prospect that a tape-recording of a disputed conversation might be produced? Has he asked Dr Kelly's family whether they are satisfied with the apology of the man he has now promoted to be his sole official spokesman?

The Prime Minister: Lord Hutton dealt with this in his report and the apology that was given at the time was repeated again to the inquiry. My official spokesman is a highly distinguished civil servant with a very good record as such. I hope very much that the hon. Gentleman would accept that apology. I believe that that apology was more widely accepted by everyone concerned, and I hope that that will be the end of the matter.