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I should start with a correction and an apology. The apology is owed to Margaret Beckett. I asserted in this column two weeks ago that the Foreign Secretary had made no protest at Saddam Hussein's execution.
In fact Mrs Beckett did (sort of) protest at the hanging, shortly after it had taken place and before the particularly revolting details had become known. But she also said that justice had been done (in her words 'he has now been held to account'). Here in full is the relevant part of her statement, which her office has sent me:
'I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account.
The British Government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else. We advocate an end to the death penalty worldwide, regardless of the individual or the crime. We have made our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their …