Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spin Doctor Wrote the 'Dodgy' Dossier Says MP

There was a debate in Westminster Hall this morning initaited by Tory MP John Baron on the Dodgy Dossier. He was taking up the claims made by journalist Chris Ames that the dossier was written by former Foreign Office spin doctor John Williams at the behest of Mi6 chief John Scarlett. This is the PA report of the debate.

Baron alleges that John Williams, the then director of news at the Foreign
Office started the drafting process. His document was requested by, and passed
to, Sir John Scarlett, chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the day before
he wrote what became the published document. Te dossier included the claim
that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes. The Foreign
Office said Mr Williams produced "a version of his own" which was made
"redundant" by Mr Scarlett's work. Mr Baron said his new evidence contradicted
the conclusions of the Hutton and Butler inquiries, both of which concluded that
the drafting process was "owned" by the JIC. "New evidence shows that spin
doctors were not just shaping decisions about the content, they were also
helping to write the dossier itself," Mr Baron said. "This new evidence confirms
that Williams produced his draft on September 9, one day before John Scarlett
wrote his own first draft. "We also know from information supplied by the
information commissioner ... that John Scarlett requested this draft before
writing his own. "Spin doctors were actually on the inside of the process,
driving it forward and that accounts for the sexing up," he said. The Williams
draft was seen by the Hutton inquiry but not published on its website, nor
mentioned by Mr Williams in his evidence, Mr Baron said. It is now the subject
of a Freedom of Information battle. The Information Commissioner has approved
the document for publication but ministers have appealed against the decision.

Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells said keeping the document private was
essential to preserve the privacy of the policy-making process. "It is claimed
that the first draft of the Government's dossier was produced not by
intelligence officers in the JIC but by press officers ... this is simply not
true. "John Scarlett and the JIC were commissioned by the Prime Minister to
produce the Government dossier and they led throughout in drafting and
finalising the dossier. He said Mr Williams wrote his own dossier "on his own
initiative". "By the time Mr Williams produced it, it was already redundant
because Sir John Scarlett in the meantime had been asked by the Prime Minister
to produce a dossier and that's what he set about doing. "It was not based on
the Williams draft."

Of course not. Coincidentally, Chris Ames is filming a documentary today on this issue which will be shown on 18 Doughty Street in the next few weeks.


Old BE said...

You mean there weren't weapons of mass destruction that could be launched at Britain at 45 minutes' notice?

Anonymous said...

I admire Chris Ames for his dogged persistance on this matter and hope it pays off one day.

There is only one question that needs to be asked, "Why has the Government fought tooth and nail to prevent it,s publication?"

The answer is obvious, they have something to hide.

dizzy said...

Just for clarification, isn;t the "dodgy dossier" the one that was cut and pasted from the Internet rather than the one with the 45 minute claim in it?

Anonymous said...

Chris Ames has been boring the pants of everyone at Commentisfree about this for several months now and I still don't understand where it is going and what he hopes to uncover, even if what he is trying to prove is true, which seems unlikely.

Chris Paul said...

This is a bit silly though isn't it? I'd love to see the thing but the story is very old. I've blogged your story with a link back to CIF nov 2006 here.

Anonymous said...

What an astonishing coincidence!! The FO press manager decides on his own initiative right out of the blue (just to pass the time away, you understand) to write a "dossier" - and Lo and Behold!! the next day the PM asks somebody else to write a dossier on the same rather obscure subject. Wow!!

Or am I being a touch cynical?

By the way wasn't Williams "transferred" from Fleet Street/Wappping/a national newspaper into his FO job? Presumably on that grounds that as an insider he would know how to handle his ex-colleagues.

Chris Paul said...

Sheesh. The Govt is being accused of employing a civil servant who met the person specification? A press manager who could manage press because of their proven talents and experience.

Please somebody - get in an EDM stating that in future all civil servants must be deliberately unsuitable for their roles in case of criticism.

Old BE said...

This is a bit silly though isn't it?

Depends on whether you think taking the country to war is a trivial matter!

Anonymous said...

The Dodgy Dossier was the one published in February and distributed to lobby journalists on an aeroplane by Alistair Campbell.

This Dossier is usually callled the September Dossier and was the first one.

John Williams was lobby hack for the daily Mirror and a friend of Campbell's.

Anonymous said...

I firstposted on this issue on 6th. June - Cover Up! what cover up?

Anonymous said...

Whatever Williams did, the Hutton evidence is clear about the pressure applied to the JIC by No 10 in order to turn equivocal intelligence into material that would justify a decision that on any construction had already been taken. I just cannot understand why the Opposition have not flatly claimed that the House - and the British people - were deliberately misled.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Michael Howard could have been clearer during the Election campaign that he thought Blair lied about the intelligence.

Cameron is surrounded by neo-Con advisors and so doesn't want to get onto the same territory.

Anonymous said...

The dodgy dossiers (for they were both dodgy) are like the Bernie Ecclestone affair. However much we are told that this is water under the bridge, the dodgy dossiers keep bobbing up again. Like a dead body they smell very unpleasant and won't go away.

Interesting, also, to see how FoI is working. When stuff is disclosed the government is embarrassed. When they try to prevent disclosure we assume the worst. A lose-lose situation for them. I am glad to say.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this is all just going to go away, with, as they say, a line drawn under it when Brown comes in. He'll have plenty of problems of his own.

Anonymous said...

I think Harry is wrong.This story will continue to run for as long as our soldiers are being killed in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

This will pay off, even if someone has to leak it. There is dirt there, otherwise they wouldn't be trying to keep it under wraps. Now all someone has to do is to leak the supposedly-secret memo of the Bush-Bliar chat about sending the Black Watch to Camp Dogwood in order to help the Yanks flatten Fallujah, or something along those lines.

Anonymous said...

Dizzy 1.33 PM
Just for clarification, isn;t the "dodgy dossier" the one that was cut and pasted from the Internet rather than the one with the 45 minute claim in it?

Yes, the September 2002 dossier was the one with the 45 minutes claim.

The Dodgy Dossier was published in February 2003 and is the one which contained 6 paragraphs lifted from an article by a postgaduate student named Ibrahim al-Marashi.

Obviously it was plagiarism, but inadvertant, I think. Probably most of us are guilty of using other peoples work but at least we either acknowledge the source or take the trouble to put it in our own words.

Muppster Mupp said...

It's all coming out. 45 minutes was a Cold War tac nuke deployment analogy. Read a relevant breakdown of the expediency involved - Iraq UK-Warpac trained, ergo 45 mins to mount a theoretical NBC weapon - on

Meantime, the plagiarism was beyond parody. Even JIR (Jane's Intel Review, the JIC bible) had dissed the substance of the allegations before a student made them manifest.

If an NBC deployment or capacity is suspected then Special Forces are deployed by nations. None were.

Before the UK SF went in to Iraq on that fateful night in 2003 they were told "There are no WMD" in their orders groups.

They couldn't go in before anyway because the UK CoGS wouldn't let them - or any other military personnel - go forth until the BAE-sponsored attorney general had contrived a convoluted solution to the downing street memo: ask tony a question, he responds positively without any other written backing from a democratic institution or institutions.

Therefore, Blair will be in the Hague. SF will testify against him, even after the contrived written evidence is presented.

All this is a damning indictment of the ferally inept media, think tanks, and Parliament.

In blogs we must now trust.