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Streets Of London: Hutton Inquiry Update - Day 21

From The Streets Of London with William Moloney

The Hutton Inquiry Update - Day 21

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The witnesses today included the Prime Minister's two Official Spokesmen, Godric Smith and Tom Kelly. John Scarlett, Head of the Joint Intelligence Committee - who had responsibility for the dossier - was also called, as was Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page.

Today, in a new series of emails, it was revealed that last minute changes to the dossier, in regards the 45-minute claim, may have come at the behest of Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff.

If this is the case, then Alistair Campbell did not sex-up the dossier, though his colleague Jonathan Powell may well have done so.

And if this is the case, then BBC got their story wrong. Not the spirit of the story, not the intention of the story, but in regards to the absolute truth of the words broadcast.

The Govt. still denies that Alistair Campbell sexed up the dossier. They, however, have never denied that Jonathan Powell or any members of the Govt. did.

Can you hear the sound of hairs splitting?

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Tom Kelly- Prime Ministers Official Spokesman

Jonathan Sumption, Counsel for the Govt, initially questioned Mr. Kelly.

Mr. Kelly said that he and Mr. Smith had persuaded Alistair Campbell not to leak Dr. Kelly’s name as he suggested they do.

Mr. Kelly also denied that his lobby briefing enabled journalists to guess Dr. Kelly’s identity.

Asked if Dr. Kelly was a pawn in the govt. battle with the BBC, he replied, “absolutely not.”

He said that it had been wrong to suggest Mr. Kelly was a Walter Mitty character.

He said it was not part of any strategy, "to demean or belittle Dr Kelly. I have accepted that my remark was wrong, it was a mistake... but it was a mistake in what I thought was a private conversation. It was not part of any broad strategy".

Mr. Gompertz, counsel for the Kelly Family, then questioned Mr. Kelly.

Mr. Kelly was asked whether it there was a connection between Alistair Campbell’s diary entry referring to, "that the biggest thing that was needed was the source out", and his lobby briefing on the same day?

Mr. Kelly's reply stated that he had written the briefing and that he would not like to suggest to the meaning of the Alistair Campbell’s diary entry. The date seemed to be coincidental, apparently.

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Godric Smith - Prime Ministers Official Spokesman

Mr. Smith was questioned about Geoff Hoon’s letter to the BBC. Mr. Smith said that the letter was written as, "we were at pains to resolve... a very difficult issue for the government".

Mr. Smith was asked about Mr. Campbell’s diary entry relating to Dr. Kelly’s evidence before the FAC referring to the fact that Mr. Smith would be a disaster.

He said that it was weary resignation on his behalf. That he felt that the evidence, “would generate more heat than light", as the BBC needed to change its position.

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John Scarlett- Head of the JIC

Jonathan Sumption, Counsel for the Govt., asked Mr. Scarlett about input by non-JIC members to the dossier.

Mr. Scarlett said that he expected the Prime Minister to be interested in the presentation of the intelligence and the Prime Minister's staff to give him, "advice on a range of presentational linked points regarding the dossier, because this was an unusual project".

The Prime Minister sent him a, “small number”, of comments via Alistair Campbell in the last days preceding the dossiers publications. He also received two emails from Jonathan Powell.

Mr Scalett said he was aware of criticisms from the DIS on the intelligence in the dossier. Mr. Scarlett agreed that the standard definition of WMD did not include battlefield munitions.

BBC Barrister Andrew Caldecott QC asked how the 45-minute claim could be included in the dossier if it had never appeared in previous JIC assessments.

Mr. Scarlett denied this claim, i.e. that the dossier had been inconsistent with the only previous intelligence judgment on the issue.

Mr. Scarlett rejected suggestions that changing the wording about the 45-minute claim from, "indicates", to, "are able", had altered the meaning of the intelligence.

Mr. Caldecott suggested that an email from Jonathan Powell, that arrived the day before publication, where he suggested they changed the implication about the threat from Iraq’s WMD, in the dossier, from defensive to offensive, was the reason for the change.

Mr. Scarlett rejected this implication that he had changed the dossier at the behest of Mr. Powell for this reason. Rather, after re-reading the intelligence, he had changed the wording in the dossier. Mr Scarlett emphasized that it was due to the intelligence, not Mr. Powell’s email, the timing of which was also coincidental apparently.

He changed the title, from, “Iraq’s Program for WMD”, to, “Iraq’s WMD” because of the intelligence, not due to pressure.

And the words “Sexing Up” were not mentioned.

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Asst. Chief Constable Michael Page

ACC Page said that criminal mischief or murder were certainly ruled out as factors in Dr. Kelly’s death.

The three mysterious men, dressed in black, seen in the vicinity of Dr. Kelly’s body, were Policeman.

ACC Page said it was not significant that Dr. Kelly’s dental records had been reported missing and then reappeared, with no-one knowing where they had gone.

*******ENDS*******

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