Government ‘planning new Iraq weapons dossier’

The government is planning to produce a new dossier on Iraq’s alleged banned weapons, according to the Economist magazine.

A report in the latest issue claims that MI6 is currently working on the new document, which will contain claims that Iraq was developing extensive biological weapons.

The evidence for the dossier appears to come from Iraqi scientists and it is expected to reveal that there was a conspiracy in Iraq to disguise the extent of its chemical and biological weapons programme.

However, a report in the Daily Mail states that intelligence chiefs will tell the Prime Minister that they have found evidence of illegal weapons programmes in Iraq, but not the weapons themselves.

British and American inspectors in the Iraq Survey Group will report to the joint intelligence committee, which will assess the evidence and pass it to Downing Street.

Speculation suggests that the intelligence may be used to publish a new dossier in time for the Labour conference next month.

The dossier is likely to come in for criticism as the coalition has still failed to locate concrete evidence that Saddam Hussein was concealing weapons of mass destruction.

The threat posed by chemical and biological weapons was used as the key argument for the war in Iraq.

The government’s previous two dossiers on Iraqi weapons were called into question after one was found to contain work from a ten-year-old thesis and the other became the centre of a row between the BBC and the government.

The BBC presented a report, based on conversations with Ministry of Defence scientist Dr David Kelly, in which reporter Andrew Gilligan alleged that weapons intelligence had been “sexed up” to provide a case for war.

The Economist quotes its Whitehall source as saying: “We would hope to be able to demonstrate in the fullness of time that almost all the information in the dossier was accurate.”

Dr Kelly apparently committed suicide days after his name became public. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee had grilled him over his conversations with journalists from the BBC.

The inquiry into the events leading up to his death begins on Monday, led by Lord Hutton.

Mr Gilligan, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, his communications chief Alastair Campbell and defence secretary Geoff Hoon are all expected to give evidence.