Alastair Campbell leaks were 'unguided missile' ahead of Iraq war

Alastair Campbell was an "unguided missile" who leaked information from MI6 to journalists in his attempts to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to a senior intelligence officer who gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry.

Right-wing parts of the British media, including those print titles in Rupert Murdoch’s News International stable, were regularly supplied with material by Tony Blair’s chief spin doctor in the run up to the war.

Previously secret evidence released yesterday showed that the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) "suffered" from the former Downing Street communications director's tendency to have "rushes of blood to the head" and brief journalists without consulting its staff.

A senior intelligence officer, referred to in the redacted papers as "SIS2", said some of the damage may have been self-inflicted. He said it was a "fair criticism" that the spy agency was "probably too eager to please" No 10. "The pressure to generate results, I fear, did lead to the cutting of corners," he told the inquiry. "I think perhaps SIS was at that point guilty of flying a bit too close to the sun."

The officer continued: "We found Alastair Campbell, I think, an enthusiastic individual, but also somewhat of an unguided missile." He added: "We also, I think, suffered from his propensity to have rushes of blood to the head and pass various stories and information to journalists without appropriate prior consultation.”

In testimony to the inquiry last year, former MI5 head Baroness Manningham-Buller criticised the way Tony Blair's government used "fragmentary" intelligence, largely from MI6, to make the case for war.

"If you are going to go to war, you need a pretty high threshold, it seems to me, to decide on that and I think there is very few who would argue that the intelligence was not substantial enough on which to make that decision," she said.

Earlier this year it was revealed that a senior defence intelligence officer had written to the inquiry to contradict Mr Campbell’s evidence that the dossier was not designed to “make the case for war”.

Major-General Michael Laurie, who was head of intelligence collection for the Defence Intelligence Agency, wrote: “I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used. 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. I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat