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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #129 - 1 msg

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Today's Topics:

   1. No 10 admits Hutton cover-up (bluepilgrim)


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2004 16:19:56 -0500
From: bluepilgrim <>
Subject: No 10 admits Hutton cover-up

No 10 admits Hutton cover-up

By Colin Brown, Kim Sengupta and Andrew Grice

17 July 2004

Downing Street admitted yesterday that MI6 embarked on an unprecedented
cover-up after it withdrew intelligence supporting the Government's dossier
on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction because it was unreliable.

In an astonishing admission after the disclosure of the cover-up in
yesterday's Independent, Tony Blair's official spokesman said MI6 decided
not to tell the Hutton inquiry - set up to investigate the death of the
government scientist David Kelly - that crucial intelligence on Saddam's
chemical and biological weapons was unsound. The security services, he
said, felt it was "too sensitive'' to be made public. The head of MI6, Sir
Richard Dearlove, also decided not to tell Mr Blair. The Prime Minister's
spokesman said Mr Blair only became aware of the withdrawal of the
intelligence as a result of the inquiry by Lord Butler of Brockwell, which
was delivered three days ago.

Senior sources close to last year's Hutton inquiry said they were unaware
that crucial intelligence had been withdrawn, and had this been known, a
number of government witnesses would have faced questions about the matter.
The sources insisted that the fact that intelligence had been withdrawn by
MI6 was not revealed to Lord Hutton either orally or in written evidence.

After the death of Dr Kelly, Mr Blair asked Lord Hutton to conduct an
inquiry. Mr Blair's official spokesman said on 21 July last year: "The
important point is that we have said that he will have whatever papers and
people he needs."

The inquiry began on 11 August. Giving evidence, the Prime Minister, Sir
Richard Dearlove and John Scarlett, the head of the Joint Intelligence
Committee, all failed to mention the withdrawal of intelligence. All three
insisted that intelligence from agents in Iraq was believed to be reliable.

Downing Street insisted yesterday that the first time Mr Blair knew about
the discredited intelligence was in the Butler report. And the reason Mr
Scarlett had not mentioned it, when giving evidence two months after MI6
had withdrawn the intelligence, was that "the validation process was still

Senior MPs said Downing Street's comments had all the hallmarks of a damage
limitation exercise. Had Mr Blair known, he would face fresh allegations of
misleading Parliament on Tuesday when he opens a debate on the Butler report.

Downing Street gave three reasons for not telling the Hutton inquiry: it
was not relevant to the investigation into Dr Kelly's death; it was only
one element in the chemical and biological weapons "picture"; and, because
validation of the intelligence and its source was continuing, it was too
sensitive to make public. "Lord Hutton was not misled. He saw everything
that was relevant to his picture," said Mr Blair's spokesman.

Two parliamentary committees were also kept in the dark and last night
there was a backlash as MPs claimed they had been misled. The Prime
Minister's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) will meet next week to
decide whether to hold a fresh inquiry into the disclosures in the Butler

A senior member of the ISC said: "We were not told about this. We were
shown some of the evidence. I think it is a real issue of concern that the
SIS [Intelligence and Security Committee] have done this without telling
us." Lord King, a former chairman of the ISC, said: "It was for Lord Hutton
to decide whether it was not relevant. "

The intelligence services also failed to tell the Commons Foreign Affairs
Committee, which investigated the death of DrKelly, that it had
"withdrawn'' the crucial intelligence.

The decision to withdraw the intelligence was taken in July, last year, the
same month that Mr Blair was forced to call the Hutton inquiry into the
circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly, who was named as the
source for reports that the dossier had been "sexed up'' by Downing Street.

Exactly a year ago, Dr Kelly went for his fateful walk in the woods. Mr
Blair is finding it impossible to draw a line under the events that his
death set in train.

17 July 2004 16:17

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