| GEO World|
| British PM under fire for Iraq war defence|
| Updated at: 1040 PST, Saturday, March 06, 2010|
LONDON: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown came under fire Saturday for the way he defended his role in the 2003 Iraq invasion, with some commentators saying he had slipped off the hook.
Brown told a public inquiry Friday it was "the right decision" to go into Iraq and rejected claims he denied funds for the military fight when he was finance minister.
While he distanced himself from military moves or diplomatic negotiations in the run-up to the conflict, he said he had always been fully informed and did everything required of him as chancellor under former premier Tony Blair.
But Lord Charles Guthrie, the head of Britain's armed forces from 1997 to 2001, said Brown had been "economical with the truth" and "disingenuous" in his testimony to the inquiry, headed by former senior civil servant John Chilcot.
"The problems of being badly equipped in Afghanistan and Iraq began a long time ago, when he was chancellor and unsympathetic to the Ministry of Defence," Guthrie wrote in The Sun tabloid.
"He was throwing money at other departments of state, while giving us as little as he could get away with."
Newspapers analysed the performance of both the prime minister and the inquiry panel. The Sun, which backs the opposition Conservatives, called it a "Brownwash".
"For all his bluster, Mr Brown is not off the hook. He may have bamboozled the dopey Chilcot Inquiry. But in the court of public opinion, he still has serious questions to answer," Britain's biggest-selling daily said.
Another right-wing newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, said Brown's evidence "was less about learning lessons from Iraq than absolving himself of any blame."