Tony Blair was at the centre of an embarrassing row last night after the most senior US official in Baghdad bluntly rejected the Prime Minister's assertion that secret weapons laboratories had been discovered in Iraq.
In a Christmas message to British troops, Blair claimed there was 'massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories'. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) had unearthed compelling evidence that showed Saddam Hussein had attempted to 'conceal weapons', the Prime Minister said. But in an interview yesterday, Paul Bremer, the Bush administration's top official in Baghdad, flatly dismissed the claim as untrue - without realising its source was Blair.
It was, he suggested, a 'red herring', probably put about by someone opposed to military action in Iraq who wanted to undermine the coalition.