Wednesday, July 11, 2007

John Baron takes on Gordon Brown over the Unpublished Iraq Dossier

The Government is appealing against a ruling by the Information Commissioner requiring the FCO to release the John Williams draft of the dossier used to brief Britain into the Iraq war. The Government had argued that publication would discourage civil servants and advisors from giving free and frank advice, but the Commissioner overruled this concern, pointing to the public interest case for disclosure. We do know from the Commissioner that John Scarlett requested the John Williams draft and that it was used in the production of the dossier – contrary to the Government’s claim that the work was redundant by the time Scarlett started writing the dossier. It is clear that Spin doctors were on the inside of the drafting process, making suggestions and writing parts of the dossier, and the Joint Intelligence Committee was not given an opportunity to approve or sign off the final document. So, today at PMQ’s John Baron, MP for Billericay, challenged Gordon Brown to come clean as to why the Government has refused to publish the first full draft of the Iraq Dossier written by a spin doctor in the Foreign Office.
The Prime Minister has talked much about the need for openness and transparency in politics, can he therefore explain why his Government continues to defy the Information Commissioner by refusing to publish the first full draft of the Iraq Dossier produced by the Foreign Office Press Officer John Williams on the 9th September 2002 - one day before John Scarlett produced his first full draft? Does the Prime Minister not believe that actions speak louder than words?
Gordon Brown replied by saying that the matter would be considered by the correct procedures in due course. John was not impressed. You do have to wonder at the government's desperate efforts to keep the document hidden. It's either a general culture of paranoid secrecy, that hasn't changed a jot under Gordon Brown, or they are hiding something.

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