"Dodgy Dossier" lies must be published says the Information Tribunal ... Chris Ames and the lies of Captain Scarlett, Alastair Campbell , Tony Blair
Today by the government argued that releasing an early ( and so far secret) draft of the controversial dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) prepared by the then-Foreign Office press secretary, John Williams on 7 and 8 September 2002 would not be in the public interest.
It preceded what the government would later claim to be the first draft, written by Joint Intelligence Committee chairman John Scarlett on 10 September, his chum Alastair Campbell, another serial and serious liar, also denied outright that there was such a document.
The Information Tribunal has today ordered the Foreign Office to disclose the document which can then be compared with liar John Scarlett's 10th December draft.
This ruling upholds the decision by Information Commissioner Richard Thomas last May , that the Williams draft "might be capable of adding to the public's understanding of the issues in question".
The "dodgy" dossier was finally published on 24 September 2002, two weeks after Scarlett’s “first draft”, and was central and critical to the lies, deceit and dishonesty that characterised the Government's case made to Parliament t illegally invade Iraq ... which had been decided by Presdient Bush and Tony Balir in April 2002 when they met in Texas.
The inquiry by Lord Hutton - which largely cleared the Government - was not handed the draft or address the questions which it might raise, according to the Tribunal.
The ruling - which follows an initial Freedom of Information (FOI) request from dogged campaigner Chris Ames in February 2005 (subsequent to a refusal from (then) Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to produce it) - states that there should only be a "very small redaction in the manuscript annotation - a handwritten note to be redacted which the Foreign Office claimed would be damaging to international relations." before it is disclosed - a claim that it did not make at the time of its initial refusal. The information is "not central to the purpose or content", the Tribunal states.
The Tribunal is also very critical and scathing about inconsistencies in the government’s evidence. They repeatedly observe that the main Foreign Office witness, Stephen Pattison, its Director, International Security, “was not involved at the time and volunteered no information about the source of his information”. It states that “it is a matter of concern that the information given to the Information Commissioner on the very nature of the information in dispute was apparently different to the evidence given to us.” (Which is effectively calling him a liar)
These comments relate directly to the role of the Williams draft in the production of the dossier. The FCO had told the Commissioner that Scarlett commissioned Williams to write the draft but subsequently changed its story. (Which is effectively calling them liars)
The tribunal refers to Pattison’s “assertion” that the draft was “not used in the dossier drafting process.” It commented that he was “apparently unable to identify any source for the assertion quoted above among either those who were so involved or from any contemporaneous document.” (Which is effectively calling him a liar)
MP John Baron , Conservative, Billericay (Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth last week said his information about lack of equipment in Afghan was "Absolute Bollocks") said: "This decision lifts the lid on government efforts to cover-up the role played by spin doctors in producing the Iraq Dossier.
"I am now pressing the Foreign Secretary immediately to make public the Williams draft, so that we can assess for ourselves the significance of this document in the run up to war – a war which we should never had been party to.
"The Tribunal agrees that the Williams draft could have played a greater part in influencing the drafting of the dossier than the Government has so far admitted - even to the Hutton Inquiry. The Government cannot hide this document any longer."
The Government can (and probably will) appeal to the House of Lords.
Chris Ames explains the significance of the decision of the Tribunal to force the Foreign Office to release the secret draft of the Iraq WMD dossier at the New Statesman.
The full text of the Tribunal decision is available here. PDF warning!!