Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum from Dr David Morrison


  I write to you as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

  Enclosed is a Memorandum on the Committee's report on The Decision to go to War in Iraq, which concluded that "Ministers did not mislead Parliament". I submit that the Committee failed to consider important issues in coming to that conclusion. These are set out in my memorandum. I pick out one:

    The Prime Minister told the House of Commons on 18 March 2003 that President Chirac had said in a TV interview on 10 March that France would veto a second resolution authorising military action "whatever the circumstances". In fact, the President said in that interview that war authorised by the Security Council would be "inevitable" if UN inspectors reported that they weren't in a position to achieve their goal.

  Inexplicably, the Committee's report does not mention this instance in which, deliberately or otherwise, the Prime Minister misled Parliament.

  Since the Committee wrote its report, a variety of other matters have come into the public domain, through the Hutton Inquiry and the ISC report, which in my opinion cast doubt on your conclusion that "Ministers did not mislead Parliament". These are also set out in my memorandum. I pick out one here:

    The Prime Minister assured the House of Commons on 4 June 2003 that "there was no attempt, at any time, by any official, or Minister, or member of No. 10 Downing Street staff, to override the intelligence judgments of the Joint Intelligence Committee" in the drawing up of the September dossier. How can that be reconciled with the fact that, as revealed by the Hutton Inquiry, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, requested a redraft of a portion of the dossier on 19 September 2002 because it backed up the "argument that there is no CBW threat and we will only create one if we attack him" and was therefore "a bit of a problem" for the Prime Minister?

  The Government justified taking the decision to go to war on Iraq primarily on the premise that Iraq had functional chemical and biological weapons and the means of delivering them, a premise that has turned out to be flawed. In those circumstances, it is imperative, in my view, that the Committee reopen its inquiry into that decision. What is the point of the Committee if it fails to shine a bright light on what was the most important foreign policy decision in a generation?

Dr David Morrison

November 2003

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