Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Unpublished Iraq Dossier

Our excellent Member of Parliament, John Baron, was one of the few Conservatives not to support the Iraq war in the commons vote. We disagreed at the time, albeit amicably, but I must say that he had a shrewder idea of the likely aftermath of invasion than, well, just about anyone and certainly me. John hasn't let up on the way parliament and public were convinced to war since the vote, and quite right too. That parliament and people were misled, at the very least by flawed intelligence, is a matter of record. What has never been got to the bottom of is how this travesty could have occurred and that is what John is after.

He is is calling on the government to publish the draft Iraq dossier of 9th September 2002 written by John Williams, a press officer at the FCO – which recent evidence shows John Scarlett requested prior to producing his own first draft on the 10th September. For some reason, the government is reluctant to do so despite a ruling against it by the Information Commissioner. To further press the government to do the right thing John has submitted an Early Day Motion, no. 1607, which has already received cross-party support.

That this House believes that decisions regarding British involvement in wars or conflicts must be based on reliable intelligence and accurate public information; further believes that the September 2002 dossier, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, played an important part in making the case for military intervention in Iraq; notes the existence of an early draft of the dossier written by Mr John Williams, a press officer at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, at the request of Mr John Scarlett, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, on 9th September 2002, one day before Mr Scarlett produced his own first draft; further notes that there is no evidence that this document was disclosed to the Hutton Inquiry, which examined allegations that intelligence assessments were exaggerated by press officers; further notes that the Government has refused, despite parliamentary questions and a Freedom of Information request, to publish the Williams draft; further notes that the Information Commissioner has overruled the decision of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to withhold the document, and that the Government has appealed against this ruling; further believes that the truth about the production of the dossier needs to be known; and calls on the Government to publish the Williams draft to help hon. Members and the public make an informed judgement about the influence of press officers in the presentation of intelligence before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

We shall watch what happens with interest.

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