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by Euro Reporter
2010-03-18 07:09:54
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Brown admits defence budget did NOT rise every year

Gordon Brown was forced to admit misleading the official inquiry into the Iraq war by insisting the defence budget had risen in real terms every year under Labour. In a huge blow to his personal credibility, he was caught out by Commons figures that proved the budget had actually fallen four times while he was Chancellor. The admission vindicates military chiefs who had accused the Prime Minister of being 'disingenuous' in his evidence to the Chilcot inquiry earlier this month.

Mr Brown was forced to concede the truth at PMQs when confronted with the figures by Tory MP Tony Baldry, who demanded he set the record straight. Mr Brown tried to dress up the climb-down by insisting defence spending had risen in cash terms and was now 12 per cent higher than it had been in 1997. But he told MPs: 'I do accept that in one or two years defence expenditure did not rise in real terms.' He said he was writing to Sir John Chilcot, the chairman of the Iraq inquiry, to 'clarify' his claims - a move that will fuel demands for him to be recalled for fresh questioning.

Critics seized on the admission as proof Mr Brown had misled Parliament with 'fantasy figures' and it risks being hugely damaging just weeks before he is set to call an election. David Cameron said: 'In three years of asking the Prime Minister questions, I don't think I have ever heard him make a correction or retraction. 'The fact is, if you look at defence spending or defence budget cuts, there have been years with real-terms cut and at last the Prime Minister has admitted it.' There was further embarrassment when the Commons Library research note revealed defence spending had not just fallen once or twice, as Mr Brown told MPs, but during four financial years while he was Chancellor.


BA extra strike flights 'will fly 65% of passengers'

British Airways says it will increase the number of flights during the forthcoming strike as more staff volunteer to work. Earlier BA said it would be able to fly 60% of passengers during the first strike, but it now says extra staff will allow 65% to fly. "The cabin crew offering to work ... has increased significantly," the company said in a statement.
The first strike by cabin crew is due to begin on 20 March. The airline said that it expected the number of staff offering to stand in for strikers to increase further. "The determination of our colleagues across the whole business to keep the flag flying this weekend is increasing," said BA's chief executive Willie Walsh. "I am delighted by the numbers of cabin crew who have been getting in touch with us to express their disillusion with Unit’s position.

"Our crews just want to work as normal, do their usual terrific job and look after our customers." The majority of the extra staff was existing cabin crew employees, BA said, not retrained office staff.


Asthma death pupil 'neglected' by Stockport school

A boy who died after an asthma attack at a Greater Manchester school died of natural causes contributed to by neglect, an inquest jury ruled. Valuable time was lost as Sam Linton, 11, was made to sit in a corridor at Offerton High, Stockport, while he struggled to breathe, the jury heard.

His death was significantly contributed to by neglect on an individual and systemic level, the inquest said. The boy died a few hours later in hospital on 4 December 2007. His parents have called for stronger implementation of first aid procedures at his school.

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