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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 August, 2003, 21:55 GMT 22:55 UK
Hutton documents released
Dr David Kelly
The inquiry has revealed the workings of government
Thousands of documents submitted to the Hutton inquiry into the death of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly have been published on the internet.

Around 9,000 pages are being made available, including private e-mails and memos from the heart of government.

Some of the documents would normally have been kept secret for 30 years, although others have already been referred to during the inquiry into Dr Kelly's apparent suicide last month.

If Dr K name becomes public will government be criticised for putting him under 'wider pressure'?
Note from meeting of Tony Blair and his advisers
Read the full document
Government scientist Dr Kelly was the source for the BBC's story about the Iraq dossier being "sexed up" at the behest of Downing Street to make the case for war.

The documents were submitted by the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, the BBC, the Commons foreign affairs committee and newspapers.

Their publication on the inquiry's website comes as Prime Minister Tony Blair and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon prepare to take the witness stand next week.

Press statement

In the wake of the disputed BBC story, Downing Street press chief Alastair Campbell urges the prime minister to be "calm" when questioned by MPs.

We are to resist any attempt by the police to interview Kelly
MoD official
Read the full documents
But he advises Mr Blair to take a "more combative" approach when talking about the general Iraq issue.

The documents reveal the details of Mr Blair's private meetings inside Number 10 as he and his officials debated whether to announce that an official - Dr Kelly - had admitted contacts with Mr Gilligan.

In an aide memoire, Joint Intelligence Committee chairman John Scarlett says that at a meeting on 8 July it was agreed the fact that Dr Kelly had come forward about speaking to the BBC would inevitably become public.

His note of the meeting says: "We were already open to criticism for not coming clean about the existence of a possible source. Not much time left."

Documents placed on the inquiry website
There is a mass of material on the Hutton inquiry website
Later that day Mr Blair, and officials including communications director Alastair Campbell and Number 10 chief of staff Jonathan Powell, decided to put out a press statement about the official's media contacts.

Notes of that meeting say: "If Dr K name becomes public will government be criticised for putting him under 'wider pressure'? PM (prime minister) repeats that MoD must remain in charge and follow their procedures."

An e-mail shows a newspaper journalist told Mr Campbell on 8 July he had received a tip about the BBC's source, but the press chief said it was "wrong".

Hours later, the MoD put out its press statement, which did not name Dr Kelly but the ministry confirmed his identity to journalists 24 hours later.

In other documents, one series of e-mails show Ministry of Defence officials discussing a police investigation into the leak of a top secret document to BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan.

The police investigation was separate to the MoD's own inquiry into the source of Mr Gilligan's report about the intelligence being exaggerated in the dossier.

The e-mails suggest the Metropolitan Police asked to interview Dr Kelly about the leaked document and for a "damage assessment/impact statement if Kelly was to be arrested".

'No secrets breach'

In the final e-mail of the series, John Cochrane of the MoD's Defence Security unit said he had discussed the issue with ministry personnel director Richard Hatfield.

"He confirms that we are to resist any attempt by the police to interview Kelly or anyone who has interviewed him," said Mr Cochrane.

One of the reasons for resisting a police interview request was because the MoD had "no reason to suspect" the scientist had broken the Official Secrets Act, said Mr Cochrane.

He added that the police seemed now to be having "second thoughts anyway".

It is not yet known whether or not Dr Kelly ever knew he was under investigation for leaking the secret document, nor whether he was told that he was cleared in the investigation, which closed nine days before he was found dead.

Other points to emerge are:

  • Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon asked the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) only to ask Dr Kelly about the BBC story, not about wider weapons issues.

  • Dr Kelly told the ISC behind closed doors it was 30% likely that Iraq had chemical weapons immediately before the war, and that the 45 minutes claim was unwisely included in the dossier for "impact".

  • Journalist Tom Mangold, a friend of Dr Kelly who is still due to give evidence, told a BBC executive about a lunch with an unnamed person who told him the "spooks" had received intelligence that Saddam Hussein could "authorise" a strike within 45 minutes, rather than launch them.

    Read the full document

    Tom Mangold e-mail
    (PDF file 123KB)

  • The documents include 67 e-mails flying between Downing Street, the Cabinet Office and the Foreign Office about the draft dossier.

  • Lawyers for Newsnight journalist Susan Watts expressed concern that somebody at the BBC had leaked to a newspaper details of her taped interview of Dr Kelly.

    Read the full document

    Susan Watts correspondence
    (PDF file 295KB)

PDF files

The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"It would normally take thirty years for these documents to see the light of day"

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