British defence minister says troops more important than his career
SAINT JEAN DE LUZ, France (AFP) Sep 12, 2003
Britain's embattled Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon insisted on Friday he was more concerned about the danger faced by British soldiers in Iraq than about his own career.

"I worry far more about the risks to our forces than I do about the risks to my political career," Hoon told AFP on the sidelines of talks with his French counterpart Michele Alliot-Marie in southwest France.

"Although there is a degree of political pressure in the UK, it does not actually compare with the kind of pressure to which defence ministers surrender most of the time when they are responsible for the safety and the security of the armed force," Hoon added.

Hoon has been tipped as the most likely "fall guy" as controversy over the way that Prime Minister Tony Blair led Britain into war with Iraq drags on.

In a report issued Thursday, a parliamentary intelligence watchdog said it was "disturbing" that Hoon did not fully disclose the concerns of intelligence staff over a September 2002 dossier on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.

Hoon gave evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee shortly after the government weapons scientist David Kelly -- who contributed to the dossier -- apparently killed himself, throwing Blair's government into crisis.