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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
MPs' verdict at-a-glance
The Commons foreign affairs select committee published its verdict on the Iraq weapons row on Monday. Here are the key points of their report:

The general weapons case

  • The UK may have been "heavily reliant" on US technical intelligence, as well as on defectors and exiles with their own agendas, for its assessment of Iraqi weapons programmes last March. That was because there was only limited access to reliable "human intelligence".
  • It is too soon to tell whether the government's assertions about Iraqi chemical and biological weapons will be borne out, but the committee has no doubt the government genuinely believed there was a "real and present danger".
  • The government should now say whether it still believes the Iraq dossier to be true.
  • Ministers should give their assessment on the current state of Iraq's Al Samoud 2 missile infrastructure - the weapons ruled illegal by UN weapons inspectors.

The September dossier

  • The foreign secretary should tell the committee on what date British intelligence officials were first told there were forged documents about alleged Iraq purchases of uranium from Niger.
  • "It is very odd indeed" the government says it was not relying on the forged Niger documents while also saying it is still reviewing other evidence eight months later.
  • The claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order "did not warrant the prominence given to it" in September's dossier because it was based on intelligence from a single source.
  • The government should say whether it still believes what it said about the 45 minute claim.
  • Downing Street press chief Alastair Campbell did not play any role in including the 45 minutes claim within the dossier.
  • Mr Campbell and other special advisers should stop chairing any meetings on intelligence matters.
  • "We conclude on the basis of the evidence available to us, Alastair Campbell did not exert or seek to exert improper influence on the drafting of the September dossier."
  • Politically inspired meddling cannot be established in the absence of reliable evidence that intelligence personnel have either complained about or sought to distance themselves from the content of the September dossier.
  • The committee chairman had a casting vote in agreeing the conclusion exonerating Mr Campbell of improper influence. Five members of the committee said that without full access to all the relevant papers and witnesses nobody could resolve the row satisfactorily.
  • The September dossier used language in places "more assertive" than that traditionally used in intelligence documents. It would be better to keep the measured and even cautious tones which are the hallmark of intelligence assessments.
  • Continuing disquiet and unease about the September dossier's claims are unlikely to be dispelled unless more evidence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is found.

February's 'dodgy dossier'

  • The amount of autonomy given to the Iraqi Communications Group, chaired by Mr Campbell, and to the Coalition Information Centre (CIC) which reported to him, as well as the lack of accountability over procedures, contributed to the row over the "dodgy dossier" produced in February.
  • The academic whose thesis was plagiarised in the February dossier should be given to help find his relatives in Iraq.
  • The dodgy dossier was "almost wholly counter-productive", undermining the credibility of the government's case for war.
  • The prime minister was not informed of the February dossier's provenance and so when he told MPs the document was "further intelligence" misrepresented its status and thus "inadvertently made a bad situation worse".
  • It is "wholly unacceptable" for the government to plagiarise work without attributing it and to amend it without either highlighting the changes or asking permission from the original author.
  • It was fundamentally wrong for the February dossier to be presented to Parliament and made widely available without being checked off by ministers.

Intelligence links

  • It should be made clear which government department is responsible for the CIC and that department should be made answerable to a Commons select committee.
  • BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan's alleged contacts should be thoroughly investigated and the government should review links between the security and intelligence agencies, the media and Parliament.
  • Ministers should always bear in mind the importance of ensuring that the Joint Intelligence Committee, which oversees intelligence assessments, is free of all political pressure.
  • The committee's inquiry is hampered by ministers' continued refusal to allow it to see intelligence papers and question intelligence personnel.
  • The September dossier "was probably as complete and accurate" as the Joint Intelligence Committee could make it but it contained "undue emphases".
  • Ministers did not mislead Parliament.


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