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New Statesman: Iraq - The New Cover-Up


Iraq: The New Cover-Up

Martin Bright
Monday 13th November 2006

Exclusive: A secret first full draft of the Iraq WMD dossier, which shows how Tony Blair persuaded parliament of the case for war, is being concealed by the government. This draft was not written by the intelligence services, as Whitehall claims, but by a Foreign Office spin-doctor. Our political editor, Martin Bright reports

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The government is withholding a secret draft of the Iraq WMD dossier that was never disclosed to the Hutton inquiry, the New Statesman can reveal. In a development that will stoke demands for a full parliamentary inquiry into the events that led up to the war, we can confirm that the draft was written not by the intelligence services, which had responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained in the dossier, but by a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office press officer, whose name has previously featured only on the fringes of the controversy over Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. It raises the possibility that the dossier originated with the government's spin machine rather than the intelligence services. This secret draft may even turn out to be the foundation of the government's ill-fated presentation of the threat from Saddam's WMD, which Tony Blair used to persuade parliament of the case for war.

The existence of the secret draft has been confirmed by the Foreign Office, but it has refused to release it despite repeated freedom of information requests.

The draft was written on 9 September 2002 by John Williams, director of news at the Foreign Office. Williams is a former Daily Mirror political journalist, who was cleared to work closely with the intelligence services along with a number of other Whitehall civil servants during the run-up to war.

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