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Newspapers "hoaxed" by 45-minute claim
15 May 2004New claims have emerged this afternoon about the veracity of a number of Iraq-related stories stretching back to 2002. According to sources on several newspapers, executives are now wondering whether stories they have published are true in the wake of yesterday's "shock" announcement that the Daily Mirror's wee-gate photographs were fakes.
"Publicly, the Sun and the Evening Standard are saying nothing, but behind the scenes they are very concerned about stories they published on 24th September 2002, stating that Britain was just 45 minutes away from attack by Saddam's WMD," said media commentator Douglas Ramsbottom. "I think they're now moving towards the opinion that they may have been hoaxed."
The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, warned that if the claims were hoaxes then British soldiers had been put in unnecessary danger. "Images of our troops invading Iraq with the Americans were broadcast throughout the Arab world, acting as a recruitment sergeant for al Qaeda," he said. "We were against the war in the first place but if it turns out that the 45-minute claim was a hoax then all of this will have been for nothing and that would be very serious indeed."
A search is now underway to find the source of the 45-minute claim, with some opponents of the war urging prosecutions should the culprits be found. Alastair Campbell was unavailable for comment.
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2 May 2004