VOICE OF THE MIRROR: Iraqi PoW abuse pictures handed to us WERE fake
Hoaxes: Minister Adam Ingram
IT is now clear that the photographs the Mirror published of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi prisoner were fakes.
The evidence against them is not strong enough to convict in a court but that is not the burden of proof the Daily Mirror demands of itself.
Our mission is to tell the truth.
That is something this newspaper has been doing for more than 100 years and will always strive to do. If ever we fail, we are letting down the people who mean most to us. Our readers.
So to you today we apologise for publishing pictures which we now believe were not genuine.
We also say sorry to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment and our Army in Iraq for publishing those pictures.
The Daily Mirror printed the photographs in good faith. We absolutely believed they were what we were told they were, otherwise we would never have printed them.
They provided pictorial evidence of a shocking story of abuse, given to us by two soldiers from the QLR.
Since then, four others have told similar stories. Not only has no evidence been produced to disprove what they said, but the thrust of their allegations has been confirmed by the Red Cross and Amnesty International. But that does not excuse the publication of those photographs. We were the victims of a hoax. And that led to us hoaxing our readers.
Many people - especially those who serve in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment - will delight in the Mirror's apology over the hoax pictures.
Others will regret that serious allegations of abuse by members of the British Army in Iraq have been diminished by the furore over the pictures. The Mirror's admission that the photographs were not genuine must not allow the Ministry of Defence to avoid dealing with the real issue.
The Prime Minister, Defence Secretary and Armed Forces Minister have claimed that our photos were hoaxes. They have been vindicated.
But they have also insisted that there was no abuse which has not been dealt with and that is simply not true.
Just as the Government turned its considerable firepower on the BBC when Dr David Kelly died, so it has done the same to the Mirror over the allegations of abuse.
It is not an honourable way to behave and is leading to growing disenchantment among the British people.
The one thing on which all sides agree, and from which the Mirror has never deviated, is admiration for our armed forces and the remarkable job they are once again doing. They are the envy of the world and their reputation for courage and honour is unrivalled.
A few rotten apples will not sully their good name as long as they are rooted out. That is what the Mirror hoped to achieve with these stories.
The hoax photographs are a sad episode in our long and distinguished history. It is now behind us.
We look forward to a future in which we continue to serve our readers in truth and honesty.