Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1-18)|
RFP AND MS
19 JUNE 2007
Q1 Chairman: Mr Thorne and Ms Pressdee,
thank you very much for coming along. You have before you the
documents which are central to this casecentral in that
their discovery led to a sequence of events that triggered the
complaint; and central because their authenticity is one of the
issues the Committee will have to resolve. We have before us your
written report to Sir Philip
and we have noted the distinction you made between authenticity
and veracity and we have seen the conclusions in paragraphs 24,
25, 36 and 51 to 60. Mr Thorne, can you very briefly summarise
the reasons behind your conclusion in the penultimate paragraphs
that drove you towards the conclusion that these are highly likely
to be authentic documents?
Mr Thorne: The first thing is
the diversity of the documents themselves. There are a number
of folders which show similarities to each other, and yet the
documents within them contain a plethora of photocopies, thermal-fax
copies, Post-it notes, photocopies on the backs of other photocopies,
a progression in dates, in stamps, where it changes from a 19
pro forma to a 2000-and-something pro forma; a change round about
the right time from an 0171 number to an 0207 number; and then
there are also the little mistakes that we make in our day-to-day
activities of dates and times not being set on faxes; dates being
put at the beginning of the next month instead of the end of the
Q2 Chairman: Given that some of the documents
are conceded to be authentic, how difficult would it have been
to insert into that pile a small number of forgeries?
Mr Thorne: Given that the documents
as a whole are conceded to be genuine?
Q3 Chairman: Some of them are conceded
to be genuine, and their authenticity is not in dispute; a small
number are challenged and the question is: how easy would it have
been to put the documents that are contested into the other documents,
assuming that those other ones are authentic?
Mr Thorne: Nothing in forgery
is technically impossible. However, the number of interlinking
features that would have to have been put in to make them similar
to documents, or a mixture of documents elsewhere, with original
matching hand stamp impressions, staple marks, in my opinion that
would be extremely difficult to do.
Chairman: I am grateful. Do colleagues
have any questions to Mr Thorne?
Q4 Mr Mullin: I believe in relation
to one or two other cases brought by Mr Galloway there are forged
documents in circulation, the Christian Science Monitor case is
an example. Have you seen any of those?
Mr Thorne: I did make it my business
to look up that case. I am relying on things on the internet and
so forth, so the reliability is subject to those constraints;
but, for example, there was a George Galloway signature in that
case and the signature is just simply nothing like his signature.
To my mind those forgeries, from what I have seen, were of a totally
different orderfar worse.
Q5 Mr Mullin: What have you seen?
You have seen a signature, what else?
Mr Thorne: I think that was the
main thing. There was an example purporting to be George Galloway's
signature. I believe the forensic examination for that case was
done by the same person who did the original examination for this
case. She concluded that effectively they were nothing like George
Galloway's signature. I have not in detail looked at things like
trash marks and indented impressions.
Q6 Mr Mullin: If we were wanting
to see what a real forgery looks like, if you will excuse the
expression, we would have to go to that lady you have just mentioned?
Mr Thorne: Yes.
Q7 Mr Mullin: Could you just remind
us what her name is?
Mr Thorne: Dr Audrey Giles.
Q8 Mr Dismore: If you were going
to put this together as a complete set of forgeries how long do
you think it would take to do; how many people would you need?
Mr Thorne: In my mind, when I
considered the possibility of them all being forgeries, I considered
two things: firstly, that they were made up later over a short
period of time, for whatever purposes. To all intents and purposes
I think that would be impossible, because of the changes over
time that we see in the documents and the breadth of them. I think
the only way that you would be able to do it would be if you were
actually running an office that was not the real office but was
a sort of shadow office, and that was collecting forged things
as you went along that built up this pattern. I suppose it would
take the time that these purport to have been done over.
Q9 Mr Dismore: How many people would
Mr Thorne: You are talking about
a reasonable-sized office I would have thought. I cannot put an
exact figure on it because I have not counted all the different
bits of handwriting that you find here and there.
Q10 Mr Dismore: If you were going
to try and create a forgery would you need to go to all this trouble
to make it convincing?
Mr Thorne: If you had access to
these documents I think you could far, far more easily create
a forgery that I think I would be able to see was a forgery but
would take you far less effort and would be far less convoluted
Q11 Mr Barron: I just wanted to ask
about that shadow office. I have heard it described in these papers
as "ghost office". Have you any experience of ghost
offices actually being anywhere in the world?
Mr Thorne: I have not, no. I have
no experience of that. I was driven to that explanation just by
the nature of the documents. It is a theoretical possibility.
Of course what I should have added is that office, of course,
would have had to have got hold of all the reference documents
that have been accepted as being genuine additionally.
Q12 Nicholas Soames: Mr Thorne, before
you examined the documents had they been examined by other forensic
scientists of an equivalent standing to yourself, for example
for the Daily Telegraph, or did you act for them at the
Mr Thorne: No, I did not. They
were examined by Dr Audrey Giles, to my knowledge.
Q13 Nicholas Soames: Apart from that
Mr Thorne: Apart from the time
I saw them and produced a preliminary report suggesting other
possible avenues; but that was in the Telegraph offices and I
only had a couple of hours to look at them during which time I
think there was a fire alarm.
Q14 Mr Dismore: How many hours did it
take you to produce this report and analyse the documents?
Mr Thorne: It was well over a
week's solid work.
Q15 Mr Mullin: You were enumerating
at the beginning of your evidence the "quirks", if you
were, that made it look as though they were genuine, and convinced
you that they were genuine. One you omitted that we might put
on the record was the differential size of the photocopying paper.
Can you say a word about that?
Mr Thorne: Yes, the photocopy
letter dated 2 May 2000, reference 194992394K and the Iraqi Intelligence
Service memo, the photocopy letter from George Galloway and two
CVs were all bound together, at one stage stapled together through
a number of staples, and were all on longer than A4 paper, something
Q16 Chairman: If you cannot find
the description you can write to us and give us the name.
Mr Thorne: Folio sized paper.
I will give the exact name of that: foolscap folio it is known
as, 8.5" by 13".
Yet those documents had all been through a photocopier. That sounds
straightforward, but if I was to ask one of you to go and do that
you would have considerable difficulty to find paper that size,
load it into your photocopier and produce the photocopies. It
is possible that it is more common in Iraq. I have not been able
to find that out, but it is a feature that seems to be there in
order to take into consideration that there is longer original
headed paper used within the official documents that we have before
Q17 Mr Mullin: Your only point about
that is not that it is conclusive, but that it is another little
feature that would have to be emulated in order for these documents
to be forgeries?
Mr Thorne: That is the nature
of these things. Any one thing on its own is probably not massively
significant, but it is adding them altogether that makes it more
and more difficult and less and less likely to produce a forgery.
Q18 Mr Llwyd: Dr Giles in her report
refers to common practice in forensic science laboratories in
describing the strength of the conclusions that you have come
to. You will be aware of the way in which they are normally banded.
On adopting that practice, how would you describe your view of
the strength of the contention that these are genuine?
Mr Thorne: I would describe it
as very strong evidence on her scale. I actually use a slightly
Chairman: Any other questions? Mr Thorne,
Ms Pressdee, I am very grateful to you for coming along and answering
questions and assisting the Committee in its inquiry. You are
1 Volume II, WE 32. Back
UK foolscap folio paper is defined as 8.5 inches by 13.5 inches
being `half' of true foolscap paper which is 13.5 inches x 17
inches. However the terminology can be extended to include the
variant 8.5 inches by 13 inches which is sometimes known as American