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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February, 2004, 15:10 GMT
Key facts: Iraq intelligence inquiry
Lord Butler
Lord Butler is to head the inquiry
The inquiry into intelligence about Iraq's weapons capability will look at the accuracy of information given to the government, Jack Straw has said.

The probe will look at discrepancies between information ahead of the war and what has been discovered since Iraq's occupation, he told MPs.

The foreign secretary said in a Commons statement that privy councillors will make up the committee of inquiry.

Chairing it will be former top civil servant Lord Butler of Brockwell.

Here are the terms of reference

  • To investigate coverage available on WMD programmes of countries of concern and on the global trade in WMD, taking into account what is now known about these programmes.

  • As part of this work, to investigate the accuracy of intelligence on Iraqi WMD up to March 2003, and to examine any discrepancies between the intelligence gathered, evaluated and used by the government before the conflict, and between that intelligence and what has been discovered by the Iraq Survey Group since the end of the conflict.

  • To make recommendations to the prime minister for the future on the gathering, evaluation and use of intelligence on WMD, in the light of the difficulties of operating in countries of concern.

  • The committee has been asked to report before the summer recess.

  • The committee will follow the precedent in terms of the procedures of the Franks Committee [into the Falklands War] and will have access to all intelligence reports and assessments and other relevant government papers, and will be able to call witnesses to give oral evidence in private.

  • The committee will work closely with the US inquiry and the Iraq Survey Group.

    Who is on the committee?

  • Lord Butler will chair the committee. The career civil servant who served five prime ministers from Heath to Blair as cabinet secretary. He was working on private papers with Margaret Thatcher on the night of the IRA attack on the Grand Hotel in Brighton and narrowly escaped death. Lord Butler was also with John Major when the IRA mounted a mortar attack on Downing Street in 1991. He retired in 1998 after a 37 year career and was made a life peer, serving the House of Lords as a crossbencher. He also became Master of his old college at Oxford.

  • Sir John Chilcot is a career diplomat who has held senior positions in the civil servant. He was principle private secretary to William Whitelaw during his time as Tory home secretary and also spent seven years as top civil servant in the Northern Ireland office.

  • Lord Inge sits in the Lords as a crossbencher having had a distinguished military career. He was chief of the defence staff from 1994 to 1997.

  • Ann Taylor MP was leader of the Commons and is an ex-chief whip. She now chairs the Commons intelligence and security committee (ISC) which provides parliamentary oversight of the intelligence services. Her committee has already conducted an inquiry into Iraq and it found that intelligence chiefs failed to highlight any gaps in their knowledge about Saddam Hussein's WMD programmes when giving advice to Mr Blair.

  • Michael Mates MP is a senior Conservative backbencher who chairs the Northern Ireland select committee. He is also a member of the ISC. Mr Mates quit a job as a Northern Ireland minister in the early 1990s - that was after he lobbied on behalf of Asil Nadir the fugitive business tycoon.




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