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Dr Kelly's discussions with Ms Susan Watts on 7 May 2003 and with Mr Andrew Gilligan on 22 May 2003

  29.  On 7 May 2003 Ms Susan Watts, the Science Editor of BBC Newsnight telephoned Dr Kelly and had a discussion with him about a number of matters relating to Iraq. Ms Watts' brief shorthand notes made in the course of the discussion record that Dr Kelly said to her in respect of the statement in the Government's dossier that chemical and biological weapons were deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them:

mistake to put in ….. A Campbell seeing something in there … NB single source … but not corroborated … sounded good

  30.  On 22 May 2003, by prior arrangement, Dr Kelly met Mr Andrew Gilligan, the defence and diplomatic correspondent of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, in the Charing Cross Hotel, London, and had a discussion with him. I will return to this discussion in more detail in a later part of this report.

  31.  On the evening of 28 May Mr Gilligan telephoned Mrs Kate Wilson the chief press officer at the MoD and spoke to her about the Today programme to be broadcast the next morning. I will return to this telephone conversation in more detail in a later part of this report.

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The BBC Today programme and the BBC Five Live Breakfast programme on 29 May 2003

  32.  On 29 May 2003 in the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 Mr Gilligan broadcast a number of reports relating to the dossier published by the Government on 24 September 2002. These reports were preceded at 6.00am by the following headlines read by Mr John Humphreys and Ms Corrie Corfield:

JH: Tony Blair is going to Iraq today. There have been new accusations over the reasons for fighting the war…

CC: Tony Blair will set foot on Iraqi soil today - just seven weeks after Saddam Hussein was swept from power. His visit comes amid continuing controversy about the likelihood of weapons of mass destruction being found. The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has suggested that the weapons might have been destroyed before the fighting began. This report is from our political correspondent, John Pienaar ("JP"), who's travelling with the Prime Minister.

JP: This morning, Tony Blair becomes the first Western leader to land in Iraq since the war, a symbolic appearance and one that will test his political skills as well as his flair for presentation. The visit is about thanking the troops and weighing up the task of reconstruction, according to Mr Blair, not triumphalism. Even so, he and his team will want to cultivate the images that will tell the tale of a liberated people. The problems and bitterness of the aftermath of war will be discussed behind the scenes in talks with British officials, Iraq civilians and the military. Today's visit will be brief. The business of rebuilding Iraq, politically and economically, and the search for the elusive weapons of mass destruction, looks like continuing perhaps for rather longer than Mr Blair might have hoped.

CC: A senior official involved in preparing the Government's dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has told this programme that the document was rewritten just before publication - to make it more exciting. An assertion that some of the weapons could be activated within 45 minutes was among the claims added at a late stage. The official claimed that the intelligence services were unhappy with the changes, which he said were ordered by Downing Street.

At 6.07am the following was broadcast:

JH: The government is facing more questions this morning over its claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Our defence correspondent is Andrew Gilligan. This in particular Andy is Tony Blair saying, they'd be ready to go within forty five minutes.

Andrew Gilligan (AG): That's right, that was the central claim in his dossier which he published in September, the main erm, case if you like against er, against Iraq and the main statement of the British government's belief of what it thought Iraq was up to and what we've been told by one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up that dossier was that, actually the government probably erm, knew that that forty five minute figure was wrong, even before it decided to put it in. What this person says, is that a week before the publication date of the dossier, it was actually rather erm, a bland production. It didn't, the, the draft prepared for Mr Blair by the Intelligence Agencies actually didn't say very much more than was public knowledge already and erm, Downing Street, our source says ordered a week before publication, ordered it to be sexed up, to be made more exciting and ordered more facts to be er, to be discovered.

JH: When you say 'more facts to be discovered', does that suggest that they may not have been facts?

AG: Well, erm, our source says that the dossier, as it was finally published, made the Intelligence Services unhappy, erm, because, to quote erm the source he said, there was basically, that there was, there was, there was unhappiness because it didn't reflect, the considered view they were putting forward, that's a quote from our source and essentially, erm, the forty five minute point er, was, was probably the most important thing that was added. Erm, and the reason it hadn't been in the original draft was that it was, it was only erm, it only came from one source and most of the other claims were from two, and the intelligence agencies say they don't really believe it was necessarily true because they thought the person making the claim had actually made a mistake, it got, had got mixed up.

JH: Does any of this matter now, all this, all these months later? The war's been fought and won.

AG: Well the forty five minutes isn't just a detail, it did go to the heart of the government's case that Saddam was an imminent threat and it was repeated four times in the dossier, including by the Prime Minister himself, in the foreword; so I think it probably does matter. Clearly, you know, if erm, if it, if it was, if it was wrong, things do, things are, got wrong in good faith but if they knew it was wrong before they actually made the claim, that's perhaps a bit more serious.

JH: Andrew, many thanks; more about that later.

At 7.32am the following was broadcast:

JH: Twenty eight minutes to eight. Tony Blair had quite a job persuading the country and indeed his own MPs to support the invasion of Iraq; his main argument was that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that threatened us all. None of those weapons has been found. Now our defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, has found evidence that the government's dossier on Iraq that was produced last September, was cobbled together at the last minute with some unconfirmed material that had not been approved by the Security Services. Now you told us about this earlier on the programme Andy, and we've had a statement from 10 Downing Street that says it's not true, and let me just quote what they said to you. 'Not one word of the dossier was not entirely the work of the intelligence agencies'. Sorry to submit you to this sort of English but there we are. I think we know what they mean. Are you suggesting, let's be very clear about this, that it was not the work of the intelligence agencies.

AG: No, the information which I'm told was dubious did come from the agencies, but they were unhappy about it, because they didn't think it should have been in there. They thought it was, it was not corroborated sufficiently, and they actually thought it was wrong, they thought the informant concerned erm, had got it wrong, they thought he'd misunderstood what was happening.

I mean let's, let's go through this. This is the dossier that was published in September last year, erm, probably the most substantial statement of the government's case against Iraq. You'll remember that the Commons was recalled to debate it, Tony Blair made the opening speech. It is not the same as the famous dodgy dossier, the one that was copied off the internet, that came later. This is quite a serious document. It dominated the news that day and you open up the dossier and the first thing you see is a preface written by Tony Blair that includes the following words, 'Saddam's military planning allows for some weapons of mass destruction to be ready within forty five minutes of an order to deploy them'. Now that claim has come back to haunt Mr Blair because if the weapons had been that readily to hand, they probably would have been found by now. But you know, it could have been an honest mistake, but what I have been told is that the government knew that claim was questionable, even before the war, even before they wrote it in their dossier.

I have spoken to a British official who was involved in the preparation of the dossier, and he told me that until the week before it was published, the draft dossier produced by the Intelligence Services, added little to what was already publicly known. He said: 'It was transformed in the week before it was published, to make it sexier. The classic example was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within forty five minutes. That information was not in the original draft. It was included in the dossier against our wishes, because it wasn't reliable. Most things in the dossier were double source, but, that was single source, and we believed that the source was wrong.

Now this official told us that the transformation of the dossier took place at the behest of Downing Street, and he added: 'Most people in intelligence weren't happy with the dossier, because it didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward'. Now I want to stress that this official and others I've spoken to, do still believe that Iraq did have some sort of weapons of mass destruction programme. 'I believe it is about 30% likely there was a chemical weapons programme in the six months before the war and considerably more likely, that there was a biological weapons programme. We think Hans Blix down-played a couple of potentially interesting pieces of evidence, but the weapons programmes were small: sanctions did limit the programmes'.

The official also added quite an interesting note about what has happened as a result since the war, of the capture of some Iraqi WMD scientists: 'We don't have a great deal more information yet than we had before. We have not got very much out of the detainees yet.'

Now the forty five minutes really is, is not just a detail, it did go to the heart of the government's case that Saddam was an imminent threat, and it was repeated a further three times in the body of the dossier, and I understand that the parliamentary intelligence and security committee is going to conduct an enquiry in to the claims made by the British Government about Iraq, and it is obviously exactly this kind of issue that will be at the heart of their investigation.

JH: Andrew Gilligan, many thanks.

Later in the Today programme Mr Adam Ingram MP, the Armed Forces Minister, was interviewed by Mr John Humphreys and in the course of the interview Mr Humphreys put to him the following allegation:

Can I tell you what the allegation was because I think you may have been a little misled on that. The allegation was not that it was concocted by Number 10, the allegation was that a report was produced. It went to Number 10. It was then sent back to be sexed up a little, I'm using not my own words, but the words of our source, as you know. Now, given that, is it possible that …..

AI: Well it's not true that, that allegation.

JH: That isn't true.

AI: No, it's not true. And you know Number 10 has denied that.

  33.  Also on 29 May on BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast programme at 7.50am Mr Gilligan broadcast a report relating to the September dossier in which he said:

Presenter (P): Good Morning.

A senior official involved in preparing the Government's dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has said the document was rewritten just before it was published to apparently "make it more exciting". The official said the intelligence services were unhappy with the changes. Let's talk to Andrew Gilligan our defence correspondent.

Hello Andrew.

Andrew Gilligan: Hello

P: This was the dossier published what, last September by the Government?

Andrew: That's right. This is not the famous "dodgy dossier" that was copied off the internet, that came later. This was a much more substantial effort. Parliament was recalled to discuss it. Tony Blair made the opening speech in Parliament, em and, and it dominated the news that day. It was, it's the most substantial statement of the Government's case against Iraq.

P: And what, according to the intelligence services were the problems with it?

Andrew: Well, the draft they originally produced they tell me was actually not terribly exciting, it didn't add very much to what we already knew publicly. What any, kind of anyone who'd followed the story would know publicly, and it didn't satisfy Downing Street and they said eh, look, you know, is there anything more this - can, can we make this a bit more exciting please.

Em, and er, they mentioned a few things which they weren't very happy with and at Downing Street's insistence those were written into the document and one of the main things that em, that they weren't very happy with was this claim that Iraq could deploy its biological and chemical weapons within 45 minutes.

Now we now (sic), we can be pretty sure now that that claim was actually wrong. Because if they could deploy within that short a time we'd have found the weapons by now, you know if they were that handy then they would have been more or less lying around er, and easily, easy for the troops to find in six weeks. Em, now, you know, what I thought to be honest was that that eh, that claim was wrong in good faith. Em, but er, what my intelligence service source says is that em essentially they were always suspicious about this claim, they did not want it to appear in the document, they did not put it in their original draft because em most of the assertions in the dossier were double sourced, this was only one source, and they didn't believe the source, they thought he had got mixed up. They thought he had got mixed up between the time it took to assemble a conventional er missile assembly and em aa and the idea that em Saddam had a er weapons of mass destruction missile assembly.

P: So, I mean the implications that the, that Downing Street asked for it to be hyped up to help convince the doubters.

Andrew: Yeah, and, and they're not very happy. I mean the actual quote from my source was "most people in intelligence weren't happy with the dossier because it didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward" and it was a matter of language and nuance as much as em er as actual detail. But the 45 minutes was very important because it went to the heart of the Government's case that Saddam was an imminent threat.

P: Absolutely. But, fundamentally, the intelligence services did believe, did have intelligence that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction.

Andrew: Yeah, they, they do believe that Iraq had a programme and what my source said was that he believed it was about 30% likely that there was a chemical weapons programme even in the six months before the war, and more likely considerably more likely, that there was a biological weapons programme. But he said the programmes they thought were small and not necessarily an imminent threat and sanctions did limit the programmes and, and eh, you know that, that the the issue is about tone and, er and nuance, ….[Presenter: hmmm] … … it really is as much as anything else and, and really had they said all that in, in the way they wanted to it wouldn't have been nearly as compelling a case.

P: And, and in a word, the intelligence services, do they still believe weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq at some point?

Andrew: They believe there were some. Em, their (sic) not sure what to believe now to be honest, because what they are saying is, em, you know, they were int …, they have been interrogating all these em, all these people that they have captured and, and they are not telling them very much.

P: Thank you very much Andrew.

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Dr Kelly's discussions with Mr Gavin Hewitt on 29 May 2003 and with Ms Susan Watts on 30 May 2003

  34.  On 29 May around 2pm London time Mr Gavin Hewitt, a special correspondent for BBC News, telephoned Dr Kelly who was in New York and had a telephone conversation with him in relation to matters in Iraq. In his evidence to the Inquiry Mr Hewitt described what Dr Kelly told him as follows:

[13 August, page 79, line 9]

we got straight on to the question of his kind of overall view of the dossier and very early on in the conversation—and these are his precise words. He said:"No. 10 spin came into play". I asked him what he meant by this and he elaborated and he said he felt the essential quality of the intelligence provided by the Intelligence Services was fundamentally reasonable. That is the phrase, "fundamental information reasonable"; but—and this is where his reservation came in—he felt that the dossier had been presented in a very black and white way. He expressed some caution about that. I think he would have liked more caveats. I think he would have been comfortable, from what he said, that it would have been more measured, in his view. He then went on to give me his views about weapons of mass destruction and he was clear, throughout this fairly brief conversation, he believed that weapons of mass destruction did exist in Iraq, but he did not feel that they constituted a major threat and he felt that even if they were found they would not be found as a massive arsenal.

  35.  On 29 May on BBC Television 10pm News Mr Hewitt broadcast the following report in relation to the September dossier:

This is really a story about trust. It begins here at MI6, the headquarters of the intelligence service. Some of those who work here are said to be uneasy about what the government did with information they passed on about Iraq. There were claims today that when Downing Street received the dossier it wanted it toughened up. When it was eventually published it did contain some dramatic warnings …..

The government acknowledged today that the forty five minute threat was based on a single source, it wasn't corroborated. This has rattled some MPs who are calling for an investigation …..

The government said today that every word within the dossier was the work of the security services. There had been no pressure from Number 10 …..

But others with experience in the intelligence community say there were some murmurings about the final wording of a dossier … …

I have spoken to one of those who was consulted on the dossier. Six months work was apparently involved. But in the final week before publication, some material was taken out, some material put in. His judgment, some spin from Number Ten did come into play. Even so the intelligence community remains convinced weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq. Only then will all the doubts go away.

The entirety of what was said in the 10pm news in relation to the September dossier is set out in appendix 2.

  36.  On 30 May 2003 Ms Susan Watts contacted Dr Kelly and had a lengthy telephone conversation with him which she recorded on a tape recorder and I am satisfied that she made an accurate transcript of that conversation. Part of that transcript is as follows:

SW: OK, um While I'm sure since you've been in New York I don't know whether you've been following the kind of the rumpus that's erupted over here over the … spat between the intelligence service and the umm …

DK: I guessed something was up - I read the Times this am and I could see there was something there and I think this follows on from what was happening in the states with Rumsfeld's comments.

SW: yes it's partly prompted by Rumsfeld - two statements by Rumsfeld - the first one saying that it was "possible" the weapons were destroyed before the war started and then he went on I think in another speech yesterday to say that the use of the argument on the position on WMD was for bureaucratic reasons rather than being the prime motive for the war, which is a rather vague statement.

DK: yes

SW: But what intrigued me and which made, prompted me to ring you, (huh) was the quotes yesterday on the Today programme about the 45 minutes part of the dossier.

DK: yep. We spoke about this before of course ….

SW: We have

DK: I think you know my views on that.

SW: Yes, I've looked back at my notes and you were actually quite specific at that time - I may have missed a trick on that one, but err

(both laugh)

SW: you were more specific than the source on the Today programme - not that that necessarily means that it's not one and the same person … but, um in fact you actually referred to Alastair Campbell in that conversation ….

DK: err yep yep …. with you? …

SW: yes

DK: I mean I did talk to Gavin Hewitt yesterday - he phoned me in New York, so he may have picked up on what I said … because I would have said exactly the same as I said to you ….

SW: Yes, so he presumably decided not to name Alastair Campbell himself but just to label this as Number 10 ….

DK: yep yep

SW: are you getting much flak over that?

DK: me? No, not yet anyway I was in New York … (laughs)

SW: yes good timing I suppose

DK: I mean they wouldn't think it was me, I don't think. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't. I don't know.

SW: um so is that the only item in the report that you had concerns over being single-sourced rather than double-sourced?

DK: You have to remember I'm not part of the intelligence community - I'm a user of intelligence … of course I'm very familiar with a lot of it, that's why I'm asked to comment on it … but I'm not deeply embedded into that …xxx … So some of it I really can't comment because I don't know whether it's single-sourced or not

SW: but on the 45 minutes

DK: oh that I knew because I knew the concern about the statement … it was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion … you know someone … They were desperate for information … they were pushing hard for information which could be released .. that was one that popped up and it was seized on … and it was unfortunate that it was … which is why there is the argument between the intelligence services and cabinet office/number ten, because things were picked up on, and once they've picked up on it you can't pull it back, that's the problem …

SW: but it was against your advice that they should publish it?

DK: I wouldn't go as strongly as to say … that particular bit, because I was not involved in the assessment of it … no … I can't say that it was against MY advice … I was uneasy with it … I mean my problem was I could give other explanations … which I've indicated to you … that it was the time to erect something like a scud missile or it was the time to fill a 40 barrel, multi-barrel rocket launcher

…. (Next 5 words physically removed from tape … not present on Monday 14/7/03 …. assume due to rubbing as tape constantly re-wound)

…("all sorts of reasons why") 45 minutes might well be important and … I mean I have no idea who de-briefed this guy quite often it's someone who has no idea of the topic and the information comes through and people then use it as they see fit ….

SW: so it wasn't as if there were lots of people saying don't put it in don't put it in … it's just it was in there and was seized upon … rather than number ten specifically going against …?

DK: there were lots of people saying that - I mean it was an interesting week before the dossier was put out because there were so many things in there that people were saying well … we're not so sure about that, or in fact they were happy with it being in but not expressed the way that it was, because you know the word-smithing is actually quite important and the intelligence community are a pretty cautious lot on the whole but once you get people putting it/presenting it for public consumption then of course they use different words. I don't think they're being wilfully dishonest I think they just think that that's the way the public will appreciate it best. I'm sure you have the same problem as a journalist don't you, sometimes you've got to put things into words that the public will understand.

SW: simple

DK: in your heart of hearts you must realise sometimes that's not actually the right thing to say … but it's the only way you can put it over if you've got to get it over in two minutes or three minutes

SW: did you actually write that section which refers to the 45 minutes Or was it somebody else?

DK: errr. I didn't write THAT section, no. I mean I reviewed the whole thing, I was involved with the whole process … In the end it was just a flurry of activity and it was very difficult to get comments in because people at the top of the ladder didn't want to hear some of the things

SW: so you expressed your unease about it? Put it that way

DK: errr well … yes yep yes

SW: so how do you feel now number ten is furiously denying it and Alastair Campbell specifically saying it's all nonsense it was all in the intelligence material?

DK: well I think it's matter of perception isn't it. I think people will perceive things and they'll be, how shall I put it, they'll see it from their own standpoint and they may not even appreciate quite what they were doing

SW: do you think there ought to be a security and intelligence committee inquiry?

DK: yes but not now. I think that has to be done in about six months time when we actually have come to the end of the evaluation of Iraq and the information that is going to come out of it. I still think it's far too early to be talking about the intelligence that is there … a lot of intelligence that would appear to be good quality intelligence, some of which is not and it take a long long time to get the information that's required from Iraq. The process has only just started. I think one of the problems with dossier - and again I think you and I have talked about it in the past is that it was presented in a very black and white way without any sort of quantitative aspects of it. The only quantitative aspects were the figures derived essentially from UNSCOM figures, which in turn are Iraq's figures presented to UNSCOM - you know the xxx litres anthrax, the 4 tonnes VX - all of that actually is Iraqi figures - but there was nothing else in there that was quantitative or even remotely qualitative - I mean it was just a black and white thing - they have weapons or they don't have weapons. That in turn has been interpreted as being a vast arsenal and I'm not sure any of us ever said that …. people have said to me that that was what was implied, Again we discussed it … and I discussed it with many people, that my own perception is that yes they have weapons but actually not xzxxxx (xxx not problem) at this point in time. The PROBLEM was that one could anticipate that without any form of inspection, and that forms a real deterrence, other than the sanctions side of things, then that that would develop. I think that was the real concern that everyone had, it was not so much what they have now but what they would have in the future. But that unfortunately wasn't expressed strongly in the dossier because that takes away the case for war … (I cough) to a certain extent

SW: a clear and present, imminent threat?

DK: yes


SW: ok … just back momentarily on the 45 minute issue … I'm feeling like I ought to just explore that a little bit more with you … the um … err So would it be accurate then, as you did in that earlier conversation, to say that it was Alastair Campbell himself who …?

DK: No I can't. All I can say is the Number Ten press office. I've never met Alastair Campbell so I can't … (SW interrupts: they seized on that?) But … I think Alastair Campbell is synonymous with that press office because he's responsible for it.

The entire transcript of this telephone conversation is set out in appendix 3.

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Further broadcasts and Mr Gilligan's article in the Mail on Sunday

  37.  On 31 May 2003 on the Today programme Mr Gilligan broadcast the following report which was introduced as "The Andrew Gilligan Essay":

In show biz they say you should never work with children or animals. In politics, may be the rule should be never work with children, animals or dossiers.

On Iraq, Tony Blair has issued three and they've all been questioned. The one on Saddam's security apparatus, famously largely copied of (sic) the internet. The one criticising Iraq's human rights record, which achieved the unusual feat for something on that subject of being attacked by Amnesty International. But it's the first, and the most substantial of the dossiers that's now, potentially, the most troublesome.

The first mention of it was on the 25th February 2002. A BBC poll had shown that 86 out [of] 100 Labour backbenchers didn't think there was enough evidence of the threat posed by Saddam. The dossier would, it was promised, provide that evidence. It was written during March; publication was promised for the end of the month but was shelved. The Government said it didn't want to alarm people. The papers said that it was because the dossier wasn't alarming enough. The BBC's intelligence and technical sources agreed. They told us that it didn't add much to what any well-informed layman already knew.

'What you have to understand is that 10 to 15 years ago, there was a lot of information. With a concealment and deception operation by the Iraqis, there's far less material.'

Other media heard the same. On August 29th, senior Whitehall sources told Michael Evans, Defence Editor of the Times, that the dossier was 'not revelatory'. On September 2nd, a Whitehall source told Richard Norton-Taylor, Security Editor of the Guardian: 'The dossier will no longer play a role. There's very little new to put in it.'

The very next morning, however, Mr Blair announced that the dossier would after all be published, and it was, on September 24th. By that day, the dossier, described as unrevelatory only 4 weeks before, had suddenly become very revelatory indeed. A senior figure involved in compiling it, told this programme two days ago that Downing Street had applied pressure to make it sexier. This quote from a British official appeared in yesterday's Washington Post:

'They were pressured and super-heated debates between Downing Street officials and intelligence officials over the contents of the dossier.'

The Prime Minister and his staff have spent the last two days denying claims that nobody has actually ever made, such as that material from the dossier was invented; that it came from sources other than the intelligence agencies; and that Downing Street wrote the dossier. They have, however, failed to deny several of the claims which the BBC source did make. There's been no denial of his allegation that the dossier was re-written the week before publication, nor has there been any denial that the line about Iraq's 45 minute deployment of biological weapons was added to the dossier at a late stage. When we put both these questions to Downing Street, they replied that they refused to discuss processology.

On both sides of the Atlantic, relations between intelligence professionals and their political masters are at a low ebb. In Washington, retired spies have written to President Bush saying the American public was misled. In Britain we've now seen two unprecedented intelligence leaks, directly challenging the Prime Minister. Time, perhaps, to take stock.

  38.  On 1 June 2003 The Mail on Sunday published an article written by Mr Gilligan. The first two columns of the first page of the article carried a photograph of Mr Alastair Campbell (the Prime Minister's Director of Communications) with a smaller photograph of Mr Gilligan below with the words in the nature of a headline:

I asked my intelligence source why Blair misled us all over Saddam's WMD. His response? One word … CAMPBELL

  39.  In the article Mr Gilligan wrote (inter alia):

The location was a central London hotel and the source was waiting as I got there. We'd both been too busy to meet for nearly a year, but there was no sign this would be anything more than a routine get-together.

We started off by moaning about the railways. Only after about half-an-hour did the story emerge that would dominate the headlines for 48 hours, ruin Tony Blair's Basra awayday and work the Prime Minister into a state of controlled fury.

The source agreed with Blair about one thing. He, too, was adamant that Iraq had had a Weapons of Mass Destruction programme in the recent past. He pointed out some tell-tale signs that the chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, seemed to have missed. But he knew, better than anyone, that it didn't amount to the 'imminent threat' touted by Ministers.

And he was gently despairing about the way No.10 had spoiled its case by exaggeration. 'Typical Downing Street', he said, half smiling, half annoyed.

We'd discussed the famous Blair dossier on Iraq's weapons at our previous meeting, a few months before it was published last September. 'It's really not very exciting, you know,' he'd told me. So what, I asked him now, had changed?

'Nothing changed', he said. 'Until the week before, it was just like I told you. It was transformed the week before publication, to make it sexier.'

What do you mean? Can I take notes? 'The classic', he said 'was the statement that WMD were ready for use in 45 minutes. One source said it took 45 minutes to launch a missile and that was misinterpreted to mean that WMD could be deployed in 45 minutes. There was no evidence that they had loaded conventional missiles with WMD, or could do so anything like that quickly.'

I asked him how this transformation happened. The answer was a single word. 'Campbell'.

What? Campbell made it up? 'No, it was real information. But it was included against our wishes because it wasn't reliable.'

  40.  On 2 June 2003 in the BBC Newsnight programme at 10.30pm Ms Susan Watts broadcast a report in relation to the September dossier. The transcript of the relevant part of the Newsnight programme is as follows:


Over the weekend the storm over the missing weapons of mass destruction focused down on one key point: was the British public duped over the urgency of dealing with Iraq's banned weapons? The government's claim that Saddam could mobilise these within forty five minutes is already looking shaky, but on the Today programme this morning the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, suggested it had never been a key part of the argument.


If you look at for example the key speech that the Prime Minister made on the 18th of March before the House of Commons, from my quick re-reading of it this morning, I can for example find no reference to this now famous forty five minutes.


But the reference to forty five minutes was there in the Prime Minister's speech to the Commons on the day he published his famous weapons dossier.


It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within forty five minutes including against his own Shia population.


And it features in the dossier itself four times, notably in the Prime Minister's forward and the executive summary.


Today, at the GH (sic) summit in Evian, Tony Blair once again found himself in rebuttal mode.

TONY BLAIR: The idea that we doctored such intelligence is completely and totally false, every single piece of intelligence that we presented was cleared very properly by the Joint Intelligence Committee.


It's a surprising claim to make given that it encompasses the other so called dodgy dossier, part of which was plagiarised, and in any case today Tony Blair appeared irritated that the weapons issue won't go away.


I think it is important that if people actually have evidence, they produce it, but it is wrong frankly for people to make allegations on the basis of so called anonymous sources when the facts are precisely the facts that we've stated.


But in some cases anonymous sources could be the only way to gain an insight into the intelligence world. We've spoken to a senior official intimately involved with the process of pulling together the original September 2002 Blair weapons' dossier. We cannot name this person because their livelihood depends on anonymity. Our source made clear that in the run up to publishing the dossier the government was obsessed with finding intelligence on immediate Iraqi threats and the government's insistence the Iraqi threat was imminent was a Downing Street interpretation of intelligence conclusions. His point is that, while the intelligence community was agreed on the potential Iraqi threat in the future, there was less agreement about the threat the Iraqis posed at that moment. Our source said:


That was the real concern, not so much what they had now but what they would have in the future, but that unfortunately was not expressed strongly in the dossier, because that takes away the case for war to a certain extent. But in the end it was just a flurry of activity and it was very difficult to get comments in because people at the top of the ladder didn't want to hear some of the things.


Our source talks of a febrile atmosphere in the days of diplomacy leading to the big Commons debate of September last year; of the government seizing on anything useful to the case, including the possibly (sic) existence of weapons that could be ready within forty five minutes.


It was a statement that was made it just got out of all proportion. They were desperate for information, they were pushing hard for information that could be released. That was one that popped up and it was seized on, and it's unfortunate that it was. That's why there is the argument between the intelligence services and Cabinet Office number 10, because they picked up on it, and once they've picked up on it you can't pull it back from them.


And again, specifically on the forty five minute point:


It was in (sic) interesting week before the dossier was put out because there were so many people saying 'well I'm not so sure about that', or in fact they were happy with it being in, but not expressed the way that it was, because the word-smithing is actually quite important. The intelligence community are a pretty cautious lot on the whole but once you get people presenting it for public consumption then of course they use different words.


The problem is that the forty five minutes point was not corroborated. For sceptics it highlights the dangers of relying too heavily on information from defectors. Journalists in America are being accused of running propaganda from the Iraqi National Congress.

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The Foreign Affairs Select Committee and MoD concern about leaks to the press

  41.  The Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FAC) is a Committee of Members of Parliament appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the FCO and its associated public bodies. On 3 June 2003 the FAC announced that it would hold an inquiry into "The Decision to go to War in Iraq". The announcement stated:

The inquiry will consider whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, within the Government as a whole, presented accurate and complete information to Parliament in the period leading up to military action in Iraq, particularly in relation to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The Committee will hear oral evidence from several witnesses in June and will report to the House in July.

In his evidence Mr Donald Anderson MP, the Chairman of the FAC, stated that Mr Gilligan's "revelations" in the Today programme were part of the context in which the Committee's decision to hold an inquiry was taken.

  42.  On 4 June 2003 Sir Kevin Tebbit wrote to the Chief of Defence Intelligence about the intense level of concern in respect of leaks or unauthorised statements made to journalists by members of the intelligence services or those close to them:


We spoke about this in the margins of the COS meeting this morning. There is clearly an intense level of high level concern about leaks or unauthorised statements made to journalists by members of the intelligence services or those close to them. While I have no reason to suspect anyone from the DIS, it is important that we do all we can to be satisfied that this is the case, and to remind staff of their professional obligations.

2. I discussed this with Sir David Omand last night and would be grateful if you could ensure that the following action is taken:

  • a notice to all staff (however discreetly handled) to report to you any suspicions as to the identity of any leaker. Of particular concern will be anyone known to be unhappy about the use made of the intelligence about '45 minute' WMD readiness. Please report any findings to me in the first instance;
  • any information we have about particular known contacts in the MOD;
  • a reminder to staff of the need to observe confidentiality in line with their professional obligations and to report any concerns about the use of intelligence to the management/command chain only;

3. I stress that I do not have any specific suspicions of the DIS. The information in the press is so generalised that it could have come from a much wider group, beyond DIS and the Agencies. For that reason, neither Sir David Omand nor I believe a formal leak inquiry is indicated, certainly at this stage. But we need to do all we can to investigate and tighten up.

4. As we discussed, DCDI may be the best person to handle this, particularly given Martin Howard's past experience as DGCC.

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A further broadcast by Ms Susan Watts

  43.  On 4 June 2003 in the BBC Newsnight programme at 10.30pm Ms Susan Watts broadcast a further report relating to the September dossier. The transcript of the relevant part of the programme is as follows:


The questions for any inquiry are piling up. First, how sound was the Government's assertion that Saddam could launch banned weapons at 45 minutes' notice. The issue dominated today's debate. Tony Blair flatly denied that the 45-minute claim had unsettled the intelligence services.


The claim about 45 minutes provoked disquiet amongst the intelligence community who disagreed with its inclusion in the dossier. Again, this is something I've discussed again with the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. That allegation also is completely and totally untrue.


But a source we've spoken to, a senior official intimately involved with the process of pulling together the original weapons dossier in which the claim was made, told us that he and others felt considerable discomfort over it.


I was uneasy with it. My problem was I could give other explanations which I've indicated to you, that it was the time to erect something like a Scud missile or it's the time to full a multi-barrel rocket launcher. All sorts of reasons why 45 minutes might well be important.


In other words he is saying that Saddam might have rocket hardware that takes 45 minutes to assemble but not necessarily the weapons of mass destruction to which Tony Blair referred in his weapons dossier, when he said of Saddam: The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them. The Prime Minister appeared to want to shift the focus of the argument, moving away from how the 45 minute claim was used to who put it in the weapons dossier.


…. including the judgment about the so-called 45 minutes was a judgment made by the Joint Intelligence Committee and by them alone.


Our source was not disputing that the 45-minute assessment was included in the dossier by the intelligence services although he did say he felt that to have been a mistake. His point was that the emphasis placed on that element of the intelligence in the foreword to the dossier went too far. He felt this emphasis turned a possible capability into an imminent threat and a critical part of the Government's case for war. Our source cannot be described as a rogue element. On the contrary, he is exceptionally well placed to judge the prevailing mood as the dossier of September last year was put together.

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The evidence of Mr Andrew Gilligan and Mr Alastair Campbell to the FAC

  44.  On 19 June 2003 Mr Gilligan gave evidence to the FAC in relation to his reports in respect of the dossier on the Today programme on 29 May 2003. In his evidence he stated that these reports were based on a single source but he did not identify this source.

  45.  On 25 June Mr Alastair Campbell gave evidence in relation to the September dossier to the FAC. In the course of his evidence he said that it was untrue for the BBC to allege that the Prime Minister took the country into military conflict on the basis of a lie and he further said:

…the story that I "sexed up" the dossier is untrue: the story that I "put pressure on the intelligence agencies" is untrue: the story that we somehow made more of the 45 minute command and control point than the intelligence agencies thought was suitable is untrue.

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