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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 12:00 GMT
Iraq dossier concerns 'overruled'
MPs will debate the report on David Kelly's death
A former senior official at the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) has again voiced his concerns over the dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Dr Brian Jones told the Independent the DIS' "unified view" was for there to be careful caveats about assessments of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons.

But, he said, they were over-ruled by the heads of the intelligence agencies, leading to a misleading dossier.

The claims came ahead of MPs debating the Hutton Report later on Wednesday.

The Hutton Report into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly last week concluded that Downing Street had not inserted material in the dossier against the wishes of the intelligence services.

Key points in text and video of Commons debate on the Hutton report

On Tuesday Tony Blair set up an independent inquiry to examine the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - in the light of the failure to find any since Saddam Hussein's fall.

Dr Jones was the former head of the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons section of the defence intelligence staff - a military assessment service inside the Ministry of Defence - but is now retired.

He blamed the heads of the intelligence agencies for "over-ruling" them - despite the fact that his staff were, in his opinion, the "foremost group of analysts in the west" on chemical and biological weapons intelligence.

It would be a "travesty" if they were now blamed for any intelligence failings with regard to Iraq's WMD.

He said that if - as he had been told - there was other, top secret, intelligence which would have removed his reservations, that should now be made public.

Dr Jones' views echo the concerns he expressed to the Hutton inquiry last summer, when he said parts of the dossier were over-egged.

Never-ending story?

Downing Street said Dr Jones claims were nothing new and repeated his Hutton inquiry evidence.

The prime minister's official spokesman said it would be "foolish" to publish secret intelligence, adding that Lord Hutton had seen such data.

In my view the expert intelligence analysts of the DIS were overruled in the preparation of the dossier... resulting in a presentation that was misleading about Iraq's capabilities
Dr Brian Jones

But Conservative leader Michael Howard backed Dr Jones' call for the secret intelligence to be published.

Such a move could alter his decision to accept Lord Hutton's conclusions, he suggested.

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said Dr Jones was among those set to dash the government's insistence the new inquiry should not be a re-run of the Hutton hearings.

'Credibility undermined'

On Wednesday, a Commons motion protesting about the choice of Lord Butler as the head of the fresh inquiry was tabled by Labour left-wingers, who say the ex-Cabinet Secretary's record "undermines his credibility as a fair and impartial chairman".

The motion cites Lord Butler's evidence to the Scott inquiry into arms to Iraq about incomplete Parliamentary answers.

The Lib Dems are refusing to take part in the latest inquiry because they say it will not consider the political judgements that were made on the intelligence.

Wednesday's Commons debate, which follows the weekly prime minister's question time, will be opened by Mr Blair with Mr Howard and the Lib Dems' Charles Kennedy replying for their parties.

MPs have had a week to read Lord Hutton's 328-page report into the circumstances surrounding the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters "concerned about the narrow remit of an inquiry to examine UK intelligence on Iraq's WMDs " were arrested on Thursday morning for throwing white paint at Downing Street's gates.

The BBC's Polly Billington
"Brian Jones says everyone should see this intelligence"

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