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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Butler report publication: Point-by-point
Main points from prime minister's questions, Lord Butler's news conference and Tony Blair's Commons statement on the WMD intelligence inquiry with the most recent point first.

  • Mr Blair said the government was increasing resources for the intelligence services which he thanked for the work they did.
  • Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llwyd said the prime minister should take responsibility for his conduct.
  • Labour's Peter Kilfoyle said MPs who had opposed the war voted for an amendment that the case for war "had not been proven".
  • The prime minister said there was a different type of security threat now because of a new form of "terrorism without limit" and because of some unstable states. There was no choice but to take an active rather than a reactive position.
  • Tory Richard Shepherd said many MPs had voted for the war on the basis of Mr Blair's case at the time and he asked why the prime minister was now extending his case.
  • Mr Blair said the case for war was discussed by the cabinet on "no less than 24 occasions".
  • The prime minister said that Saddam would never have given up his WMD ambitions.
  • Mr Blair said the UN inspectors could not have gone back into Iraq without the troops being there. He highlighted the "clear intention" that Saddam wanted to rebuild his arsenal, as outlined in Lord Butler's report.
  • Labour former foreign secretary Robin Cook said Mr Blair's acknowledgement of there being no usable stockpiles of weapons in Iraq suggested there was in fact no urgency to go to war.
  • Tory former chancellor Ken Clarke said the JIC's first ever publication, the September dossier, used language that none of its officers had used. If Mr Blair had used that actual language the intelligence assessments contained he would not have won the vote in the Commons on going to war.
  • It was right then as it would be right now to go ahead and remove Saddam Hussein's "murderous regime", Ms Clwyd said.
  • Labour's Ann Clwyd - Tony Blair's human rights envoy to Iraq - said the Iraqi people always saw Saddam Hussein as the "biggest weapon of mass destruction".
  • Mr Blair acknowledged it would be better in the future to separate out the JIC's information and the case made by the government.
  • Labour MP Ross Cranston stressed there was a long term flouting of UN resolutions.
  • The prime minister argued that the failure of the UN security council to agree an ultimatum left the US and its allies with a choice: either to back down or take Saddam to task over his repeated breaches of UN resolutions.
  • Responding Mr Blair said Mr Kennedy had to accept on the basis of Lord Butler's report that Saddam remained some sort of threat.
  • The Lib Dem leader argued that Lord Butler's conclusions suggested the policy of containment over Iraq was succeeding in that it prevented Saddam from developing WMD.
  • Mr Kennedy asked if the informal way Mr Blair and his colleagues considered important issues would now be changed.
  • Mr Kennedy said the legality of the war was a key issue - it was time the advice by the attorney general was published.
  • The Lib Dem leader attacked the inclusion of the 45 minutes warning saying there was a suspicion it was included because of its "eye catching character".
  • Mr Kennedy said within the remit that Lord Butler was set meant that there was no judgement of whether it had been right or wrong to go to war with Iraq.
  • Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said whatever had happened now nothing could erase the loss of life as a result of the war.
  • The prime minister said Mr Howard still believed that the war was right and the Tory leader was guilty of point scoring and "opportunism".
  • He quoted Mr Howard as saying the war with Iraq was "justified and arguably overdue" during March 2004.
  • Responding Mr Blair asked if Mr Howard felt he had been duped into supporting the war which he had voted for.
  • If there was a war in the near future based on a judgement by Mr Blair that there was a threat would the country have confidence in that judgement, said Mr Howard.
  • The Tory leader said Mr Blair chose to leave out caveats, qualifications and cautions that the intelligence agencies had made about information on the nature of the threat from Iraq.
  • Mr Blair had claimed the picture painted by the intelligence was extensive, detailed and authoritative and not patchy - as intelligence officials themselves admitted, argued the Tory leader.
  • But, said Mr Howard, the prime minister had said he had "no doubt" of the threat and the intelligence was "beyond doubt".
  • Mr Howard highlighted the fact that in September 2002 it was acknowledged by the JIC that "intelligence remained limited".
  • Responding Tory leader Michael Howard the question was whether the intelligence was accurate and did Mr Blair give an accurate account of it to the country.
  • Both Afghanistan and Iraq now had a future, even if it was an uncertain one, said the prime minister.
  • The prime minister said he had never made a harder decision but after 11 September Britain had to "get out and get after" the threat of international terrorism.
  • Would it have been more practical to continue the policy of containment, Mr Blair asked.
  • The prime minister said some would always be opposed to his decision on going to war but after a series of reports and inquiries he hoped that people would now accept there was a "genuine difference of judgement".
  • Mr Blair said he accepted full personal responsibility for criticisms and said blame should not be left at the door of British intelligence.
  • The prime minister said the chief of SIS Sir Richard Dearlove accepted criticisms about the quality of some intelligence.
  • Mr Blair highlighted Lord Butler's conclusion the government had not embellished the September dossier.
  • The prime minister said the September dossier merely stated what had been said by intelligence and by UN inspectors previously.
  • Mr Blair said Iraq had used WMD lately, had actively tried to conceal its weaponry and there was intelligence that he could be in a position to rebuild his capacity.
  • Mr Blair said after 11 September the "calculus" had changed - the threat had changed and no prime minister faced with that threat could ignore it.
  • Osama Bin Laden wanted to use these weapons to target the UK and US.
  • Mr Blair said the JIC had changed its view in recent years over the threat that terrorists were trying to get hold of chemical, biological and nuclear materials.
  • The prime minister said North Korea remained a threat not least because it would sell missiles to virtually anyone with hard currency.
  • Mr Blair said he still believed the world was better off without Saddam and he stood by his decision.
  • The prime minister added that if the UK had backed down on Saddam there would have never been the kind of progress on WMD that there had been in Syria.
  • The prime minister said he had searched his conscience and it was clear evidence of WMD was now less certain than it had appeared at the time.
  • Mr Blair said he accepted that as the months have passed it was increasingly clear Saddam did not have stockpiles of WMD ready to deploy.
  • The prime minister said there had been two issues one being about good faith - no-one had lied, made up intelligence, everyone had tried to do their best in difficult circumstances. Questions over good faith should now be at an end.
  • Mr Blair went on to summarise the report and stressed that Saddam Hussein had wanted to resume his weapons programmes and was carrying out "illicit research" to that end.
  • The prime minister said the hallmark of the report was its balanced judgement.
  • Mr Blair said the report was "comprehensive and thorough" and he accepted all of Lord Butler's conclusions.
  • Tony Blair has returned to the Commons to deliver his response to Lord Butler's report.
  • Lord Butler's news conference ended at 1320 BST.
  • Lord Butler said he had great regard for John Scarlett and his record of service.
  • His inquiry had found that Iraq had not got biological or chemical agents in a state that could be deployed as weapons.
  • Lord Butler said Iraq was a very big place and there was "lots of sand" and it would be an unwise person who reached the conclusion that nothing would ever be found in Iraq.
  • Lord Butler agreed his committee had been less critical than other inquiries, for example in the US, but he insisted that they had been critical of some of the procedures of the way intelligence was assessed.
  • Lord Butler said there was no evidence, no reason to question to the prime minister's good faith.
  • Lord Butler said he agreed the 45 minute claim should not have been included without more clarity as to what it referred to. It was an "uncharacteristically poor piece of assessment".
  • On the 45 minute claim, Lord Butler said his inquiry had looked at whether the claim had been spun by the government but he decided it had not. It had been seized on by the media because it was new and striking.
  • Lord Butler criticised the long chain of communication through which intelligence passes.
  • Lord Butler said that to the extent there was a weakness about the dossier it was the fault of everyone concerned -declined to name individuals.
  • Lord Butler said all governments had wanted more intelligence on Iraq but a growing fear over WMD led to the conclusion a "stand had to be made" and that stand would take place in Iraq.
  • Lord Butler said the inquiry had taken written evidence from Alastair Campbell on the presentation of the dossier but not on any other matter.
  • The intelligence claims on Niger did not rest on forged documents alone - there were other sources.
  • It would have been "very foolish" to say the weapons were there when the war would establish shortly the truth of the matter.
  • Lord Butler said the UK government had relied on what intelligence on WMD that had not led to any serious finds - he was surprised that when no finds were made that new sources were not sought out.
  • Lord Butler said no single individual was to blame - this was a "collective operation". There had been no deliberate attempt to mislead by the government.
  • Lord Butler said there was no doubt the government believed the judgements in the September dossier but it was a serious failure that the thinness of the intelligence was not included.
  • Concerns over the September 2002 dossier raised by Dr Brian Jones were valid.
  • Intelligence reports that were relied on to claim biological weapons manufacture proved not to be accurate.
  • Assessments that Iraq sought uranium from Africa were "well founded".
  • Lord Butler said assessment of intelligence was too influenced by Iraq's past record but there was no evidence of "deliberate distortion or culpable negligence".
  • Part of the problem arose in the effective application of normal checking procedures for intelligence.
  • Iraq was a "very difficult target" not least because it was a closed society and because Saddam would severely punish anyone who he suspected was acting as a spy.
  • Lord Butler said after the war doubts arose about some of the intelligence sources that underpinned the government's intelligence dossier.
  • Lord Butler said the Attorney General advised the legality of war with Iraq in the absence of a further UN resolution meant more intelligence was required.
  • Lord Butler said his conclusions might provoke calls for John Scarlett's resignation but he added the JIC head should not bear personal responsibility.
  • Lord Butler said his report took the "unprecedented step" of publishing intelligence assessments on which the dossier was based.
  • The JIC had never produced a public document and the JIC had never been used in such a public way.
  • Growing fears of military action prompted Mr Blair to announce the publication of the September dossier.
  • During the Spring and Summer 2002 the tone of Joint Intelligence Committee assessments became firmer and a dossier began to be prepared about WMD.
  • There was no recent intelligence that showed Iraq was of "more immediate concern" than some other countries when it came to WMD.
  • There had been growing evidence over proliferation of WMD in other countries followed by the 11 September terror atrocity.
  • Lord Butler said there had been "limited intelligence" of Iraqi attempts to revive its missile and nuclear programmes.
  • Lord Butler said his inquiry had looked at intelligence between the end of the 1991 Gulf war until inspectors departed Iraq before the latest war.
  • There was confusion over the term WMD and Lord Butler's report had avoided it preferring to specifically name different types of weapons.
  • The inquiry had not looked at the work of foreign intelligence agencies.
  • Lord Butler said it had been the job of the Iraq Survey Group and not his inquiry to discover if there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
  • The work of intelligence agencies was invaluable and had never been more difficult.
  • He praised the bravery of people who served Britain by working in intelligence.
  • Lord Butler has begun his news conference on his inquiry into the use of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.


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