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Mr. Baha Mousa

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

In my statement of 25 January (Official Report, columns 65-66WS), I promised to make an announcement once I had reached a decision on what form any future inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Baha Mousa in Iraq in September 2003 might take.

After wide consultation and after considering the representations that I have received, and with the full support of the military chain of command, including the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of the General Staff, I have decided that the right thing to do is to establish a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. The inquiry will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Baha Mousa. The terms of reference and other details will be made public once they have been established in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and the inquiry report will be published.

This reinforces my determination, and that of the Chief of the General Staff, to do everything we can to understand how it came to be that Mr Mousa lost his life. The Army has no wish to hide anything in this respect. It has looked at itself very critically since 2003, and has made a number of significant changes that were enumerated in Brigadier Aitken’s report of January this year. It nevertheless remains anxious to learn all the lessons that it possibly can from this disturbing incident.

Overall, the conduct of tens of thousands of our people in Iraq has been exemplary; it is a tiny number who have caused a stain on the reputation of the British Army. But that does not mean we can allow these events to pass without looking into them thoroughly.

I hope this independent inquiry will reassure the public that no stone has been left unturned. The Army and the Ministry of Defence will be giving the fullest co-operation to this inquiry.