Dossier rewritten at PM’s behest
Number Ten gave the go-ahead for a “substantial rewrite,” ahead of its final publication, of the September dossier on Iraq’s capacity to launch lethal weapons, Lord Hutton’s judicial Inquiry has learnt.
Evidence submitted to Hutton’s inquiry into the apparent suicide of Iraqi weapons expert Dr David Kelly indicated the document was to be revised, reportedly at the behest of Tony Blair.
On day five of the inquiry, it was disclosed that the PM held a meeting with aides after rumours spread that Dr Kelly was the MoD “mole” in the BBC story which alleged someone in No 10 had wittingly “sexed up” an intelligence dossier to boost the case for war.
Dr Kelly apparently took his own life after he was named as the “source” in the story. Dr Kelly was found with his wrists slit near his home.
An e-mail from the PM’s director of communications, Alastair Campbell to chief of staff Jonathan Powell read: “Structure as per TB’s [presumably Tony Blair] discussion. Agreement that there has to be real intelligence material in their presentation.”
Downing Street’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell told the inquiry how senior officials were summoned to the Prime Minister’s office on the morning of Monday July 7th.
Evidence to Hutton also found out that Tom Kelly – the man who labelled the weapons expert a “Walter Mitty” fantasist – thought Downing Street as inextricably entangled in a “game of chicken” with the BBC.
An e-mail from Mr Powell to Mr Scarlett, dated September 17, suggested there was no evidence in the dossier of any “imminent threat” from Iraq.
The BBC’s defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, ran a story on the Today programme claiming the dossier was doctored a week before its publication on September 24 by Mr Campbell.
Mr Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, told the inquiry the PM and Mr Campbell were involved in drafting the press notice viewed by many as a prelude to the naming of Dr Kelly.
On Tuesday, Alastair Campbell will give evidence to the inquiry.