Iraq report 'gagged by defence chiefs'

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The Independent Online

A study by a senior Army officer into the lessons of the invasion of Iraq has been suppressed because its comments were too critical even for a restricted Ministry of Defence readership, it was reported last night.

The paper by Lieutenant General Chris Brown looked at the circumstances surrounding the invasion of Iraq and the criticisms were said to be so embarrassing that defence chiefs want it kept secret. They are concerned that the members of the Chilcot Inquiry into the 2003 invasion, who are aware of the report's existence, will demand to see the report and that full secrecy will be lost.

So sensitive are the contents of the study that, according to one report, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, intervened personally to prevent it being more widely circulated within the MoD. It has so far been seen only by a handful of senior MoD officers and officials.

A source at the MoD claimed last night that the report had been "sent back for redrafting" after a series of "factual errors" were spotted.

The study was carried out by Lt Gen Brown on behalf of the MoD after a succession of officers and officials expressed to the Chilcot Inquiry their anger at a lack of preparedness for how Iraq should be run in the immediate aftermath of the invasion.

A spokeswoman for the MoD said last night: "Lt Gen Chris Brown has led a small team in the production of an internal, classified MoD paper. A variety of military officials and civil servants have provided input."