July 16, 2004

Dissent in the Butler committee

Posted in War on Terror at 7:49 pm by David Gould

One of the five members of the Committee that made the investigation which resulted in the Butler Report has spoken against the lack of criticism pointed at the government:

‘Lord Inge made it clear that he believed the pressure from Downing Street on the JIC to harden the wording of the dossier on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction had turned the intelligence committee into a government propaganda organ for war.

It was asked to do things which I personally don’t think it should do in the sense that intelligence and public relations need to be kept separate,” said Lord Inge.’ — The Independent

‘The Hutton inquiry revealed that Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, had e-mailed Mr Scarlett [then head of JIC, since promoted to lead MI6] asking for the dossier to be redrafted because there was “nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam.”‘

‘Ann Taylor, a former Labour cabinet minister and current chairman of the Prime Minister’s Intelligence and Security Committee, is believed to have played a key role inside the Butler inquiry in limiting the criticism of the JIC’

‘One inquiry source said: “There was clearly a debate inside the committee between Lord Inge and Michael Mates on one side, and Ann Taylor on the other. It looks as though Tony Blair was pleased by the outcome judging by his smile outside Downing Street.”‘

‘Ms Taylor, a former Labour chief whip, was called to order by the Speaker of the Commons for shouting across the chamber at Michael Howard, the Tory leader, when he attacked Mr Blair over the Butler report in the Commons. A senior Tory figure said: “We thought it was pretty extraordinary that the Speaker should have to speak to a member of the Butler inquiry in that way.”‘

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