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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 July, 2004, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
MI6 'retracted' Iraq intelligence
Former Ministry of Defence WMD intelligence analyst Dr Brian Jones
Dr Jones questioned Tony Blair's evidence to the Hutton Inquiry
Tony Blair's war case has suffered a fresh blow after MI6 took the rare step of withdrawing intelligence about Iraq's WMD, the BBC has learned.

This week sees the publication of the Butler report into how intelligence on Iraq was handled.

That follows the premier's admission that Iraq's WMD may never be found.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said Mr Blair, a practising Christian, would have to account for his decision over the Iraq war at "the judgement seat".

John Ware, from the BBC's Panorama programme, was told that key intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction used to back the case for war has recently been withdrawn.

A spokesman for the prime minister told BBC News Online that Downing Street did not want to comment on reports about the case for invading Iraq until Lord Butler published the outcome of his inquiry.

Intelligence doubt

Rowan Williams was quoted in the Observer as saying: "When you acknowledge that you have taken a risk which has not paid off, which has cost, and that cost does not seem to be justified that's the punishment."

Two ex-intelligence officers meanwhile have cast doubt over the way the premier went about trying to justify war with Iraq.

Dr Brian Jones, formerly of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), told the BBC's Panorama programme that no-one on his staff had seen evidence of the scale of weapons capability being touted by Downing Street.

John Morrison, former deputy chief of DIS, meanwhile said Mr Blair's claims on Iraqi WMD were met by disbelief in Whitehall.

"The prime minister was going way beyond anything any professional analyst would have agreed," he said.


Their statements seem to challenge assertions by the prime minister in the run-up to war that Iraq posed a "current and serious" threat to Britain.

Tony Blair
The prime minister was going way beyond anything any professional analyst would have agreed
John Morrison
Former deputy chief of DIS

Meanwhile Dr Jones told Panorama he "couldn't relate" to the prime minister's evidence to Lord Hutton on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Blair told the inquiry there was "a tremendous amount of information and evidence coming across my desk as to the WMD and programmes associated with it that Saddam had".

But Dr Jones, a critic of the government's Iraq dossier, told Panorama: "Certainly no-one on my staff had any visibility of large quantities of intelligence of that sort."

He said no-one knew what chemical or biological agents had been produced since the first Gulf War and there was no certainty among intelligence staff that agents had been stockpiled.

"There was a reasonable assumption that there may have been some stocks left over from the first Gulf War," Dr Jones said.

"If there had been any other production, then we have not identified that it had taken place."

Dr Jones told the Hutton Inquiry the dossier on Iraq was misleading because advice from DIS experts had been over-ruled by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which drafted it.

'Collective raspberry'

Mr Morrison told Panorama he could "almost hear the collective raspberry going up around Whitehall" when the prime minister told MPs the threat from Iraq was "current and serious".

He accused Mr Blair of making public statements which went beyond what experts could have reasonably concluded from the same evidence.

"In moving from what the dossier said Saddam had, which was a capability possibly, to asserting that Iraq presented a threat, then the prime minister was going way beyond anything any professional analyst would have agreed," he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said people wanted "straight answers to straight questions over the war."

Speaking ahead of two key parliamentary elections this week, Mr Kennedy added: "Now this government are just losing the plot.

"They are turning in on themselves and they are turning their back on the voters."
Lord Butler
Lord Butler's findings are due to be published on Wednesday evening

Mr Morrison said analysts came under pressure after Operation Desert Fox, the bombing campaign against Iraq in 1998.

Analysts had felt pressured to back claims targets actively involved in WMD production had been hit in the strikes - even if they were not sure that was the case.

Panorama also claimed John Scarlett, chairman of the JIC, was warned a month after the dossier's publication the intelligence was not strong enough to back the presentation of some of its claims.

Mr Scarlett may be among the intelligence bosses singled out for criticism in Wednesday's report.

Panorama: A failure of intelligence was broadcast on BBC One at 2215 BST on Sunday.

Former Defence Intelligence Staff's Dr Brian Jones
speaks to the BBC's Panorama



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