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Blair supports Saddam video probe

Footage 'pretty grisly' admits PM

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Tony Blair has lent his support to the Iraqi probe into mobile phone video footage of Saddam Hussein's execution, The BBC reports. He did not, however, endorse deputy prime minister John Prescott's description of the way the hanging was handled as "deplorable", and Downing Street described this opinion as "personal".

Downing Street said of the investigation: "The Iraqi government is going to conduct an inquiry into the manner in which the execution was conducted. We fully support that decision and believe it is the right thing to do. As they have said, there were obviously things that went wrong."

Blair told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It was a matter for the sovereign Iraqi government how they dispense justice in their country. I am not in favour, personally, of the death penalty, and, like others, I found the pictures on the television frankly pretty grisly.

"And I think the way it was handled, clearly with people shouting and gesticulating was quite wrong and I am glad the Iraqi authorities are going to have an investigation and a review into this."

The prime minister was not the only one who found the TV coverage of the hanging grisly. Ofcom has launched its own probe into UK TV coverage after receiving 30 complaints from viewers, although "no British broadcaster showed the actual moment that the deposed Iraqi leader was killed and not all of the broadcasters being investigated aired the taunting that took place before the execution".

The BBC was singled out for particular viewer ire, with BBC One attracting 11 complaints and BBC News 24 copping eight. Channel 4, ITV1, Sky News and US channel Fox also got their share of the vote. ®

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