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SOL: Hutton Inquiry Update - Week 2 Day 2

From the Streets of London with William Moloney

Hutton Inquiry Update - Week 2 Day 2

The inquiry was treated today to the inside workings of Number 10 and its relationship with the Civil Service.

Jonathan Powell, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff, was one of those giving evidence today. His appearance and the documents that accompanied it showed exactly how much Number 10 re-packaged the September dossier at the heart of the Inquiry.

In an email from sent on behalf of Alistair Campbell, on the 5th of September, 19 days before its release, there was reference to “a substantial re-write....as per TB’s (Tony Blair) structure.”

12 days later, after the substantial re-write, Mr Powell expressed concerns to John Scarlett Head of the Joint Intelligence Committee that they had failed to find the smoking gun needed to swing backbencher support and the public opinion.

Powell wrote “the dossier is good and convincing for those who are prepared to be convinced. The document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Sadaam....We will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat”.

This view, of the dossier authors, as interpreted by Powell, that Sadaam did not pose an imminent threat was contradicted in the forward of the published version of the dossier. In that Tony Blair writes “I am in no doubt that the threat is serious and current, ...”.

***************

The Inquiry also head of how Dr. Kelly’s name as Andrew Gilligan’s source became public knowledge. Pam Teare, Director of News at the MOD, disclosed she was behind the strategy in close association with Downing Street, of releasing Dr. Kelly’s name. This strategy was that the MOD press office would not release Dr. Kelly name, but would confirm it if suggested by a journalist.

The journalists were “lead” to Dr. Kelly’s name by a carefully worded statement written by The Prime Ministers Official Spokesman, released on the 8th of July It took one day from the release of the statement till Dr. Kelly’s name was in the public arena.

It was also revealed today that Tony Blair chaired two meetings, on the day prior to and the day of the release of that careful worded statement , at Number 10 about Dr. Kelly. The meeting was attended by Geoff Hoon, Jonathan Powell, Alistair Campbell, Sir Kevin Tibbet the Permanent Secretary for Defence, and Sir David Omand, the Cabinet Office Intelligence Co-ordinator. The meeting was told, on the 8th of July, that “David Kelly did not expect to remain anonymous”.

Lord Hutton asked Mr. Powell if any thought has been given to protecting Dr. Kelly from the media spotlight. Mr Powell replied “...that in the end this was going to become public”.

This strategy was to protect other people within the MOD with similar backgrounds as Dr. Kelly, Ms. Teare had said earlier.

Today, the 19th, Alistair Campbell, The Prime Minister’s Director of Communication and Strategy, will be giving evidence.

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