Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Ninth Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1. We conclude that it appears likely that there was only limited access to reliable human intelligence in Iraq, and that as a consequence the United Kingdom may have been heavily reliant on US technical intelligence, on defectors and on exiles with an agenda of their own. (Paragraph 15)

2. We conclude that the March 2002 assessment of Iraq's WMD was not "suppressed", as was alleged, but that its publication was delayed as part an iterative process of updating and amendment, which culminated in the September dossier. (Paragraph 25)

3. We conclude that it is too soon to tell whether the Government's assertions on Iraq's chemical and biological weapons will be borne out. However, we have no doubt that the threat posed to United Kingdom forces was genuinely perceived as a real and present danger and that the steps taken to protect them taken were justified by the information available at the time. (Paragraph 41)

4. We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out whether it still considers the September dossier to be accurate in what it states about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programmes, in the light of subsequent events. (Paragraph 42)

5. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government give its current assessment of the status of the Al Samoud 2 missile infrastructure. We further recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out whether it still considers the September dossier to be accurate in what it states about Iraq's ballistic missile programme generally, and the retained al-Hussein missiles in particular, in the light of subsequent events. (Paragraph 47)

6. We conclude that the accuracy of most of the claims in relation to Iraq's nuclear weapons programme can only be judged once the Survey Group has gained access to the relevant scientists and documentation. (Paragraph 53)

7. We recommend that the Foreign Secretary provide the Committee with the date on which the British intelligence community were first informed by the CIA that forged documentation in relation to Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger existed, as soon as he has found this out. (Paragraph 57)

8. We conclude that it is very odd indeed that the Government asserts that it was not relying on the evidence which has since been shown to have been forged, but that eight months later it is still reviewing the other evidence. The assertion "… that Iraq sought the supply of significant amounts of uranium from Africa …" should have been qualified to reflect the uncertainty. We recommend that the Government explain on what evidence it relied for its judgment in September 2002 that Iraq had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. We further recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out whether it still considers the September dossier to be accurate in what it states about Iraq's attempts to procure uranium from Africa, in the light of subsequent events. (Paragraph 60)

9. We conclude that the 45 minutes claim did not warrant the prominence given to it in the dossier, because it was based on intelligence from a single, uncorroborated source. We recommend that the Government explain why the claim was given such prominence. (Paragraph 70)

10. We further recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out whether it still considers the September dossier to be accurate in what it states about the 45 minute claim, in the light of subsequent events. (Paragraph 71)

11. We conclude that Alastair Campbell did not play any role in the inclusion of the 45 minutes claim in the September dossier. (Paragraph 77)

12. We conclude that it was wrong for Alastair Campbell or any Special Adviser to have chaired a meeting on an intelligence matter, and we recommend that this practice cease. (Paragraph 79)

13. We conclude that on the basis of the evidence available to us Alastair Campbell did not exert or seek to exert improper influence on the drafting of the September dossier. (Paragraph 84)

14. We conclude that the claims made in the September dossier were in all probability well founded on the basis of the intelligence then available, although as we have already stated we have concerns about the emphasis given to some of them. We further conclude that, in the absence of reliable evidence that intelligence personnel have either complained about or sought to distance themselves from the content of the dossier, allegations of politically inspired meddling cannot credibly be established. (Paragraph 86)

15. We conclude that without access to the intelligence or to those who handled it, we cannot know if it was in any respect faulty or misinterpreted. Although without the Foreign Secretary's degree of knowledge, we share his confidence in the men and women who serve in the agencies. (Paragraph 90)

16. We conclude that the language used in the September dossier was in places more assertive than that traditionally used in intelligence documents. We believe that there is much value in retaining the measured and even cautious tones which have been the hallmark of intelligence assessments and we recommend that this approach be retained. (Paragraph 100)

17. We conclude that continuing disquiet and unease about the claims made in the September dossier are unlikely to be dispelled unless more evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes comes to light. (Paragraph 108)

18. We conclude that the degree of autonomy given to the Iraqi Communications Group chaired by Alastair Campbell and the Coalition Information Centre which reported to him, as well as the lack of procedural accountability, were contributory factors to the affair of the 'dodgy dossier'. (Paragraph 122)

19. The Committee also concludes that the process of compiling the February dossier should have been more openly disclosed to Parliament. (Paragraph 123)

20. We recommend that the Government offer every assistance to Mr Marashi in tracing his relatives in Iraq. (Paragraph 133)

21. We conclude that the effect of the February dossier was almost wholly counter-productive. By producing such a document the Government undermined the credibility of their case for war and of the other documents which were part of it. (Paragraph 138)

22. We further conclude that by referring to the document on the floor of the House as "further intelligence" the Prime Minister—who had not been informed of its provenance, doubts about which only came to light several days later—misrepresented its status and thus inadvertently made a bad situation worse. (Paragraph 139)

23. We conclude that it is wholly unacceptable for the Government to plagiarise work without attribution and to amend it without either highlighting the amendments or gaining the assent of the original author. We further conclude that it was fundamentally wrong to allow such a document to be presented to Parliament and made widely available without ministerial oversight. (Paragraph 140)

24. We recommend that any paper presented to Parliament—whether laid on the Table, made available in the Vote Office or placed in the Library—for the purpose of explaining the Government's foreign policy be signed off by a FCO Minister. We further recommend that any FCO document presented to Parliament which draws on unofficial sources should include full transparency of sources, and attribution where appropriate. (Paragraph 141)

25. We recommend that there should be clarity over which Department has lead responsibility for groups such as the CIC. That Department should then be accountable to the relevant select committee. This would avoid the situation where nobody is prepared to take responsibility for certain interdepartmental groups. (Paragraph 149)

26. We recommend that Andrew Gilligan's alleged contacts be thoroughly investigated. We further recommend that the Government review links between the security and intelligence agencies, the media and Parliament and the rules which apply to them. (Paragraph 154)

27. We conclude that the continuing independence and impartiality of the Joint Intelligence Committee is of utmost importance. We recommend that Ministers bear in mind at all times the importance of ensuring that the JIC is free of all political pressure. (Paragraph 159)

28. We recommend that the Intelligence and Security Committee be reconstituted as a select committee of the House of Commons. (Paragraph 167)

29. We conclude that continued refusal by Ministers to allow this committee access to intelligence papers and personnel, on this inquiry and more generally, is hampering it in the work which Parliament has asked it to carry out. (Paragraph 170)

30. We recommend that the Government accept the principle that it should be prepared to accede to requests from the Foreign Affairs Committee for access to intelligence, when the Committee can demonstrate that it is of key importance to a specific inquiry it is conducting and unless there are genuine concerns for national security. We further recommend that, in cases where access is refused, full reasons should be given. (Paragraph 171)

31. We conclude that the September dossier was probably as complete and accurate as the Joint Intelligence Committee could make it, consistent with protecting sources, but that it contained undue emphases for a document of its kind. We further conclude that the jury is still out on the accuracy of the September dossier until substantial evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, or of their destruction, is found. (Paragraph 186)

32. We conclude that the February dossier was badly handled and was misrepresented as to its provenance and was thus counter-productive. The furore over the process by which the document was assembled and published diverted attention from its substance. This was deeply unfortunate, because the information it contained was important. (Paragraph 187)

33. Consistent with the conclusions reached elsewhere in this Report, we conclude that Ministers did not mislead Parliament. (Paragraph 188)

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Prepared 7 July 2003