Wednesday, January 23, 2008

FOI Victory in Dodgy Dossier case

Some time ago, when I was at 18 Doughty Street, I was approached by a freelance journalist called Chris Ames, who was fighting the Foreign Office to get an FOI on various aspects of the Iraq dodgy dossier, the most important being: who wrote it? The Foreign Office were refusing to hand over the info he was requesting. I thought he had a good case so I gave him the chance to make a 30 minute documentary on the issue. The result can be viewed HERE.

Today, he won his case at a tribunal. According to the News Statesman... The Information Tribunal has just rejected an appeal by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to stop the release, under the Freedom of Information Act, of an early draft of the now infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction dossier.The September 2002 dossier formed part of the government’s spurious case for war in Iraq. The draft in question was produced by John Williams, the FCO’s Head of News at the time. Its existence tore apart the government’s assertion, to the Hutton and Butler inquiries, that the dossier was the work of the intelligence services.

The Tribunal criticised inconsistencies in the Foreign Office’s account. It noted that the FCO’s chief witness and Director of International Security, Stephen Pattinson,
"was not involved at the time and volunteered no information about the source of
his information". The decision follows a three-year battle by Chris Ames, a
charity researcher from Surrey, who persisted in his quest for the truth. The NS
was pleased to support him, and to provide pages of the magazine for his campaign. We pay tribute to his extraordinary diligence.

I do too. The New Statesman and I were the only people to listen to him and provide him with a platform for making his case in public, so far as I am aware. The rest of the media shut him out and ignored him. You can read more on the case on his Iraq Dossier blog. I'm sure that by the end of the day he will tell all about today's events.