Journalist David Rose has told how he still feels "shamed and disgusted" at the way he was duped by those who wanted to go to war in Iraq.
Speaking in a debate at the Frontline Club, Rose who reported for the Observer and Vanity Fair in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq said he had interviewed people who had purported to be defectors from the Saddam regime who had told "a pack of lies".
He said that intelligence services knew that some of the sources were fabricating information about Iraq but they were still used to back claims that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Rose added: "I don't think people quite realise how cynical the process of manipulation by those who wanted this war was. I still feel shamed and disgusted at being duped to that extent."
The Independent's Iraq correspondent Patrick Cockburn said the opposition to Saddam knew there was no chance of a coup inside the country to overthrow him and knew they had to keep prodding the US to get rid of him.
Cockburn claimed that "if you know which US and British correspondents to go to you can have a good idea of what's happend in Iraq since the invasion". But he said coverage in the run-up to the war was "notoriously bad". Cockburn criticised as "appalling" the many "experts" and "talking heads" who are used by the media to comment on Iraq.
Former Radio 4 Today programme editor Kevin Marsh, now editor of the BBC College of Journalism, claimed: "Some parts of the media may have some accounting to do but the media as a whole has together done a far better job than any of the official inquiries into the Iraq war have done."
He did add, however, "I think the way in which the Lobby was orchestrated by Alastair Campbell was not the Lobby's finest hour."
Cockburn stressed the importance of having experienced reporters on the ground. "Good reporting comes from people who've been there a long time." But he admitted it had become far more dangerous for journalists to operate on their own in war zones.
Rose pointed out that the media industry was in danger of collapsing as the old business models failed and editorial budgets came under pressure.
"The first place that feels the pinch is covering foreign conflicts - not Cheryl Cole," he said.
Pic: (Left to Right) Patrick Cockburn, Kevin Marsh and David Rose.
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