Dodgy and dodgier

Chris AmesThe release of a draft of the British government’s dossier on Iraqi weapons confirms suspicions but also raises more questions, writes Chris Ames

Monday’s release of the John Williams draft of the Iraq “weapons of mass destruction” dossier shows why the government fought for so long to suppress it. It proves what I have always suspected: that a spin doctor was in the thick of sexing up the document that took Britain to war. At the same time, Williams himself has shattered the Foreign Office case for not releasing the draft under the Freedom of Information Act.

We learn two things from the document. Firstly, Williams produced what became the dossier’s executive summary, which purported to set out the Joint Intelligence Committee’s (JIC) “judgments”. Secondly, and consequently, the draft is proved to have led to JIC chairman John Scarlett’s “first draft” the next day and therefore to the published dossier. The first shows that the government misled parliament in making the case for war. The second shows that the government misled the Hutton and Butler inquiries, and parliament again, to cover this up.


Iraq dossier draft released

The 2002 draft of the British government’s dossier on Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities has been released by the Foreign Office. The government had initially tried to keep the document confidential, but the Information Commissioner ruled that it had to comply with the Freedom of Information Act request of campaigner Chris Ames.

Read Chris Ames’s article “Unfinished Business” here

Read wmd dossier here

Victory for freedom of information campaigner

Chris Ames

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has lost an appeal to prevent the release of a document that formed part of the government’s case for invading Iraq.

The document was written by John Williams, then Head of News at the Foreign Office. It formed part of the drafting process of the dossier ‘Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction’, which asserted that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed within 45 minutes. The dossier, published in 2002, was central to the government’s argument for invading Iraq. The furore which followed BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan’s claim that the document was ‘sexed up’ led to the resignation of the director-general Greg Dyke and chairman Gavyn Davies after the publication of the Hutton Report.

The government had claimed that the dossier was the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee, but the draft is evidence that government spin doctors had a hand in the process.