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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 16:15 GMT
Key points: Hutton debate
Here are key points made by the leaders of each major party during House of Commons debate on the Hutton report.


Hutton report

  • Lord Hutton cleared the government of acting in an underhand way and of impropriety over its Iraq dossier, but he was highly critical of the BBC.

  • Mr Blair had "sympathy" with public confusion about how the Hutton report was received. There was "a world of difference" between evidence given to the inquiry and what was reported in some parts of the media.

  • As hecklers shouted "whitewash" from the Commons public gallery, Mr Blair said: "I somehow feel I'm not being entirely persuasive in some quarters."

  • "Not merely do I take full responsibility for the decision to go to war ... our security services do a magnificent job for this country."

  • The chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) cleared the entirety of the dossier and Lord Hutton found that there was no improper interference.

  • Lord Hutton had been accused, in certain quarters, of putting at risk the freedom of the press and the independence of the BBC.

  • All Lord Hutton had said was that if an allegation of impropriety or dishonesty is made, it should be checked out first, and if it is known to be false, it should be withdrawn.

  • The BBC report at the centre of the Hutton inquiry was "100%" wrong. The best defence against accusations of whitewash was Lord Hutton's "forensic" report.

  • However "much pride" people have in the BBC as an institution, the corporation needs to ensure it withdraws incorrect accusations of impropriety.

    Dr Brian Jones

  • Concerns over the Iraq dossier, expressed by Dr Brian Jones, an ex-senior official at the Defence Intelligence Staff, were never passed on to the full Joint Intelligence Committee "let alone Downing Street".

  • Intelligence to which Dr Jones referred had been seen by Lord Hutton.

  • Dr Jones was wrong in claiming there was intelligence about the 45 minute claim which had been withheld from him.

  • Intelligence on chemical and biological weapons was not seen by anyone in the Defence Intelligence Staff, but they were briefed on the details of it. People in the Joint Intelligence Committee knew about it.

    Butler Inquiry

  • Not surprised that many people were already commenting that the outcome of the latest inquiry would not be good enough. "I have given up trying to satisfy that audience."

    Weapons of mass destruction

  • "I accept that they have not found ... actual weapons for immediate use."

  • Inspectors had found evidence of laboratories and teams of scientists told to conceal their work on biological and nuclear weapons capabilities, that breached UN resolutions "many, many times".

  • This was not the same as the intelligence received by the coalition about actual weapons, but it was fully consistent with weapons programmes and showed Saddam Hussein's "unrepentant, malignant contempt".

  • Saddam Hussein "was never going to change and therefore, ultimately, even though we went through the UN and putting inspectors back in there, he was never going to change unless he was removed from power".

  • Action in Iraq had proved to the terrorists that "we will fight back" against them and have the military power to do so.

  • The WMD threat may have been under-estimated in certain quarters. "We are very lucky to have this intelligence capability."

  • If part of the intelligence "turns out to be wrong and we know much of it is right", or the threat from Saddam was different, "I will accept this as I should".


    War on Iraq

  • "I believe the war in Iraq was a just war ..."

  • Lessons needed to be learnt from events leading up to the Hutton inquiry.

    Butler inquiry

  • Its focus should not be to find scapegoats in the intelligence services or a re-run of the arguments for war.

  • The inquiry was "clearly in the nation's interest as a means of rebuilding public confidence" and strengthening Britain's capacity to defend itself and make the world a safer place.

  • President Bush deserves all the credit "for changing the prime minister's mind on this issue".


  • Britain "must have sound intelligence" it can rely on to make a convincing case for any future military action.

  • Nobody should under-estimate the difficulties in obtaining intelligence in places like Iraq.

  • Dr Jones's request for sight of intelligence, which he claimed would have removed his reservations over the Iraq dossier, was "entirely reasonable".


  • Paying tribute to the BBC's former Director General Greg Dyke and Chairman Gavyn Davies: "They both made a very significant contribution to the BBC."

  • "Clearly the BBC made mistakes."

  • Some institutional changes were required at the BBC. "We have long argued that the governors can't run and regulate the BBC." There is also a role for the communications watchdog Ofcom in dealing with complaints.



  • Hopes the government will ensure the independence and integrity of the BBC is upheld, particularly during consideration of charter renewal.


  • Reservations about the Hutton inquiry and the latest inquiry because the remits did not enable them to address the "fundamental question which the public want addressed", which was the political judgment to go to war.

  • The "worry" was that issues about the extent to which Saddam Hussein posed a danger were not going to be resolved by the fourth inquiry.

  • The longer this went on, the longer public confidence "remains dissatisfied" and this "life and death issue" will continue to bedevil British politics and the world stage.

  • Public opinion remained "basically unmoved" despite the propaganda efforts surrounding the Iraq dossier.

    Dr David Kelly

  • The duty of care extended to Dr Kelly was "clearly not sustainable".

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