Friday, September 05, 2008

Lifting Lid On Sexed Up Dossier Secrets

A three year battle to expose the truth behind the "sexed-up" Iraq dodgy dossier has received a major boost, with the Cabinet Office being told to release e-mails and memos, to show whether intelligence was manipulated before the dossier's publication.

Investigative journalist, Chris Ames, has been fighting to get the material released under freedom of information laws and expose one of the most shameful episodes of Blair's premiership. 

In a 20-page ruling, the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, said there was "a strong public interest" in exposing messages exchanged by 'political figures' and there was "evidence that the dossier was deliberately manipulated in order to present an exaggerated case for military action."

Ames, a freelance writer and investigative journalist, has written extensively about spin doctor involvement in the 2002 dodgy dossier and is the author of the website.

An account of the background to the dossier and Ames' investigation is given on his website and reported extensively in the Independent and Daily Telegraph and, using PA copy, in the Guardian. But no report, at the time of writing, from the BBC!

Commenting on the ruling, Ames said: "The commissioner has laid bare the Government's farcical cover-up, which included shamelessly playing the national security card. He has also given a strong hint that the Government has concealed evidence of sexing-up to save political embarrassment."

The Cabinet Office has 35 days either to publish the information requested by Ames, or to appeal.

The "sexed-up" dossier, with its now de-bunked '45 minutes weapons of mass destruction' claim, was published in 2002 as Parliament returned and Blair needed the dossier to boost his case for the Iraq invasion. 

Intelligence chief, John Scarlett, who was in charge of the dossier, allowed changes to be inserted by Downing Street spin doctor, Alastair Campbell. 

Campbell's Diaries reveal how he reacted furiously to a report by Andrew Gilligan on the BBC Today programme, implying that he had inserted a key claim in the dossier stating weapons could be launched in 45 minutes. 

Ministry of Defence weapons expert, Dr David Kelly, who met Gilligan to discuss the dossier, was found dead in Oxfordshire, following a witch hunt by the government for Gilligan's source.

The Hutton Inquiry whitewash into Kelly's death found that Campbell proposed a number of changes to the dossier before its publication, some of which were accepted.

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