8 Mar 2010

Brown visits troops amid row over evidence to Iraq inquiry

9:09 am on 8 March 2010

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has visited British troops in Afghanistan amid a growing row over his evidence to the Iraq war inquiry.

Aides say Mr Brown rejects criticism from two former army chiefs that as chancellor, he spurned requests for more equipment in Iraq.

Downing Street also denies Conservative claims that Mr Brown is using the visit to Afghanistan to divert attention away from the row.

During his trip, Mr Brown promised 2000 more metal detectors and announced plans for a new light patrol vehicle.

The BBC reports that senior officers also told him the military phase of their current campaign in Helmand province has been largely successful. The campaign is aimed at pushing the Taliban out of central Helmand.

On Friday, Mr Brown told the Iraq inquiry that British forces had been given all the equipment they had asked for.

However, Lord Guthrie, who led the armed forces from 1997 until 2001, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that the Ministry of Defence had "received the bare minimum from the Chancellor, who wanted to give the military as little as he could get away with".