Tony Blair's delight at the capture of Saddam Hussein was tempered yesterday when Labour MPs warned that it had not changed the fundamental flaws in the legal and moral case for the Iraq war.
Several MPs warned that the Government would come under increasing pressure to find hard evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq now that its former dictator was behind bars.
While Saddam's arrest appeared to swing US public opinion behind the war, Mr Blair found that MPs who opposed the war were in no mood to tone down criticisms of his actions. Peter Kilfoyle, a former defence minister, said: "I don't think this makes a difference for us because the war was about WMD and the threat from them. It might make a difference in America where the war was personalised.
"They said they would find weapons immediately after the war. I doubt he has in his memory banks the location of all his weapons. But if they have him under lock and key and they can still not find his weapons it will show that the whole thing was a sham."
In a letter to Mr Blair, Graham Allen, a former government whip, warned: "With Saddam a captive, the world will now expect these weapons to be found. They represent his only bargaining counter with the Allies and he can expect only a short time to use it. If Saddam does not within the next month or two offer some evidence which leads to a discovery of WMD, the world will draw the reasonable inference that he never had any. If that happens, I hope that the Government will accept this conclusion too."