Alastair Campbell 'misled' Chilcot over dossier

We were explicitly told to make case for war, says top intelligence official

Alastair Campbell misled the Iraq Inquiry, according to a senior intelligence officer who has claimed that intense political pressure was applied to turn a dossier reporting on Saddam Hussein's absent weapons of mass destruction arsenal into a justification for invading Iraq. Tony Blair's communications director had repeatedly dismissed claims that the dossier of September 2002 was embellished to pave the way for military action. He told the inquiry: "It was not the case for war, it was the case why the Prime Minister has become more concerned."

But Mr Campbell's version is directly contradicted by the man who was Director General of Defence Intelligence Staff at the time the dossier was being drafted. In hitherto secret testimony, Major-General Michael Laurie has detailed how Downing Street suppressed versions of the document which did not fit with what it wanted.

General Laurie was so concerned by what he regarded as Mr Campbell's inaccurate testimony that he felt it imperative that what actually took place should be put on the record. He contacted the inquiry: "I am writing to comment on the position taken by Alastair Campbell during his evidence to you.

"Alastair Campbell said to the inquiry that the purpose of the dossier was not 'to make a case for war'. I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used. I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given. The previous paper... was rejected because it did not make a strong enough case. From then until September we were under pressure to find intelligence that could reinforce the case."

In his evidence to the hearing last year, Mr Campbell said: "I defend every single word of the dossier, every single part of the process." The document did not "in any sense misrepresent the situation" with regard to Iraq at the time. Claims such as Iraq's ability to use chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes, which was later proved to be false, were actually a cautious assessment, claimed the spin chief.

Like others appearing before Sir John Chilcot, Mr Campbell was not under oath when giving his testimony. But all witnesses were expected to give a written undertaking that what they said was accurate and honest.

General Laurie's account also calls into question statements made by Mr Blair and members of his cabinet – they had also denied that the dossier was designed to facilitate Britain joining George Bush's attack on Iraq.

General Laurie, in charge of collating and analysing intelligence, presented a picture of Britain's security apparatus being constantly harried to produce what Downing Street wanted. His boss, Air Marshal Sir Joe French, the then Chief of Defence Intelligence, was "under pressure" and a similar situation was being experienced by members of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which was putting together the document.

Sir John Scarlett, the chairman of the JIC, the author of the dossier, whose conduct in assembling the document was criticised by witnesses in the earlier Hutton inquiry, was later made the head of MI6 by Mr Blair.

In his letter to Sir John, General Laurie added: "We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMD, generally concluding that they must have been dismantled, buried or taken abroad. There has probably never been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country. During the drafting of the final dossier, every fact was managed to make it as strong as possible, the final statements reaching beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts. We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care."

The published dossier included a foreword by Mr Blair, drafted by Mr Campbell, in which he stressed his belief that "intelligence" had established "beyond doubt" that Iraq had continued to produce WMD in breach of United Nations resolutions.

Investigations carried out after the invasion of Iraq by Western scientists in the Iraq Survey Group, proved the claims to be false. Dr David Kelly, a British scientist who was involved in that work, was named as the source of a story by the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan that Mr Campbell had played a part in "sexing up" the dossier.

In a posting on Twitter last night, Mr Campbell responded: "Nothing to add to evidence to inquiry. Dossier not case for war. Set out why govt more concerned re IraqWMD. Never met Gen Laurie."

Suggested Topics
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?