Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 570-579)


19 JUNE 2003

  Q570  Chairman: Mr Wilkie, may I welcome you on behalf of the Committee to assist us in our inquiry on the decision to go to war in Iraq. You were a defence analyst with the Australian Office of National Assessments, ONA. You resigned on 11 March of this year in protest at the Australian Government's support for military action against Iraq. Is that correct?

  Mr Wilkie: That is correct, Chairman.

  Q571  Chairman: It is only fair to say that we have had a letter from your former employers[1], the ONA, giving some background and I think it proper that you be allowed to comment on that letter. First, can you help the Committee on the ONA. Is it equivalent to our Cabinet Office assessment staff, is it equivalent to the SIS? What is the broad equivalent in the UK system?

  Mr Wilkie: Chairman, I do not know that you have an exact equivalent. The Office of National Assessments is our senior intelligence agency. It is a completely independent agency, although it is closely associated with our Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is the gateway for all intelligence and assessments through to our Prime Minister and the senior ministers, the members of our National Security Committee at Cabinet.

  Q572  Chairman: That is helpful. Let me then put to you, so you can give your own observations, various parts of the ONA letter. We are first told, and I suspect your answer to this is likely to be very clear: "Mr Wilkie's views on intelligence about Iraq and its WMD programmes do not reflect the views of the Office of National Assessments". That must be true.

  Mr Wilkie: Yes, that is true, that my views are quite at odds with the views of the Office of National Assessments and, in fact, the views of most of the government, I suspect.

  Q573  Chairman: They then go on to say: "His recent work in ONA as a senior analyst principally concerned illegal immigration and related transnational issues". Is that correct?

  Mr Wilkie: No. I have heard such assertions previously and, in fact, on the day I resigned on 11 March the Office of National Assessments released a statement to that effect. I believe that what I perceive as the government's attempts to sideline me in this issue are inaccurate. If I could just outline—

  Q574  Chairman: But is it true that your work prior to your resignation was principally concerned with illegal immigration?

  Mr Wilkie: No, that is not true. It is true that my work included illegal immigration.

  Q575  Chairman: Prior to your resignation on 11 March, according to this information from your former employers, you produced only one written report about Iraq, an assessment in December of last year of the possible humanitarian consequences of military intervention. Is that true?

  Mr Wilkie: That is correct.

  Q576  Chairman: Thank you. They go on to say that you were one of several analysts who, as the Iraq crisis intensified, were asked, and offered, to be available to provide additional analyst capacity on Iraq when needed. Is that true?

  Mr Wilkie: That is correct.

  Q577  Chairman: On your return from two weeks' overseas travel, 11-27 February, researching immigration and transnational issues, you were rostered to be part of analyst teams in ONA's watch office on Iraq. Is that fair?

  Mr Wilkie: That is correct, Chairman.

  Q578  Chairman: Was the object of your overseas travel immigration and transnational issues?

  Mr Wilkie: That is correct.

  Q579  Chairman: They go on to say that you resigned before contributing to any assessment as part of an analyst team. Is that fair?

  Mr Wilkie: That is correct.

1   Ninth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 2002-03, The Decision to go to War in Iraq, HC 813-II, Ev 52. Back

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