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SOL: The Hutton Inquiry - Week 3 Day 1

From the Streets of London with William Moloney

The Hutton Inquiry - Week 3 Day 1

The witnesses called today were John Scarlett, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and Labour MP Andrew Mackinley, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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John Scarlett, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee

Mr. Scarlett told the inquiry that the original dossier began to form in February 2002, but covered 4 countries.

He was told by Alistair Campbell, who was quoting the foreign secretary that the other three countries were to be dropped and the dossier was to continue with Iraq alone.

Those drafts were continually reviewed in light of new information.

The dossier was first distributed on the 4th of September, to senior figures, after Tony Blair said the dossier would be published within the next few weeks.

The first meeting on the dossier occurred the next day, with this draft not containing the 45 minute claim.

The inquiry was then shown an email from an unnamed member of Defence Intelligence stating that new intelligence suggested that Iraq could employ weapons within 45-minutes.

“Iraq have probably dispersed their special weapons including chemical and biological weapons....from forward deployed storage sites, chemical and biological weapons could be with military units and ready for firing within 45-minutes”.

Mr. Scarlett confirmed that this information was from a single source but from an “established and reliable line of reporting, quoting a senior and reliable Iraqi who was in a position to know this information.....In this particularly case, it was judged straightaway that the intelligence was consistent with established judgements on Iraq’s experience and capability...”

At a meeting on the 9th of September, John Scarlett was confirmed as the owner of the dossier.

“It was Alistair’s Campbell’s understanding at the time, I went away as the person in charge of the whole exercise”.

Mr. Scarlett said that there were no attempts at all by Number 10 to “beef up” the dossier.

The inquiry was shown an e-mail saying that Number 10 wanted the document to be “as strong as possible” using the available intelligence.

Mr. Scarlett said that changing the wording of the dossier from saying Iraq “may be” able to deploy WMD to “could be ready” was not intended to be significant.

He also said that he was unaware of any expressions of unhappiness about the dossier from Defence Intelligence staff.

Mr. Scarlett said the Defence Intelligence Staff queried whether it was right to include the 45-minute claim as a judgement and suggested that it should be qualified in the executive summary with the words “intelligence suggested that”.

The purpose of the dossier was to share the intelligence which Tony Blair was seeing and was in no sense making a case of war.

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Andrew Mackinley, Labour MP , Foreign Affairs Committee Member.

Mr. Mackinley said that the fight between Number 10 and the BBC was “none of my business”.

“The important thing was that there was somebody out there whom we knew was a senior civil servant who was regularly uttering that the Government had exaggerated that case”.

He said he thought that the government had not given the committee the co-operation it needed. The government had denied the committee access to documents and people, which, ironically, was now being made available to the Inquiry.

He said that the government had attempted to “obstruct scrutiny...They do not like Scrutiny”

He said that he thought the Geoff Hoon had a “monumental cheek” to instruct the committee on what issues they could and could not cover with Dr. Kelly.

Mr. Mackinley said he was “prepared to live with it” at that stage, but would have “done battle” if necessary.

Mr. Makinley was concerned when Dr. Kelly arrived with two “minders” at the Committee hearing.

“I immediately started to imagine that he had been briefed, programmed...”

“I do not buy this business of him coming forward voluntary. I think by this time the heat was on.”

He thought Dr. Kelly “softly spoken...very controlled” during the hearing.

“We felt (the committee) that the Government had known that, because although my colleagues do not use the term implicitly, they felt he was the fall guy. He had been set up. We were angry...”

Asked to clarify “fall guy” Mr. Mackinley replied

“I think that at the moment in time- I now know differently- I think the Government, collectively, was quite pleased for Dr. Kelly to come up, hoping that the thing would be sort of fudged and the thing would more or less die away”.

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For full transcripts of all witness testimony and all the documentary evidence presented:

Go to the Hutton Inquiry website: http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk

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