Intelligence expert says Scarlett's MI6 appointment raises 'issue of credibility'

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Pressure on John Scarlett increased yesterday after the intelligence expert Brian Jones suggested that his appointment as head of MI6 raised an "issue of credibility" about the future of the security services.

Pressure on John Scarlett increased yesterday after the intelligence expert Brian Jones suggested that his appointment as head of MI6 raised an "issue of credibility" about the future of the security services.

Dr Jones, the former head of the nuclear, chemical and biological Defence Intelligence Staff, stopped short of calling on Mr Scarlett not to take up his appointment but said: "The intelligence community depends absolutely on its credibility. I think there is a big issue of credibility here and it's that credibility, that issue of credibility and Mr Scarlett's association with that which is the problem."

Dr Jones was applauded in the Butler report last week for raising concerns about the intelligence underpinning the Government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He was a witness at the Hutton inquiry into the death of the government scientist David Kelly last year, giving evidence which revealed the concern in the intelligence community at the way the Government's 2002 dossier on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was put together.

Dr Jones warned that basic errors in the dossier on Saddam's weapons were "staggering". He said he was "suspicious" about new intelligence that he was not allowed to see which bolstered the dossier, but was later withdrawn by MI6. He told BBC Radio 4: "It was quite difficult to believe that something that voluminous and that detailed would become available.

"I could not think who would have been in a position to do an analysis of that sort of information other than my own staff. We were told at the time that it did clinch it and we should bury our concerns, if you like.

"From my perspective, no more was said or heard about that until quite recently when the information was revealed in Lord Butler's report that that intelligence had been withdrawn and I found that extremely surprising.

"The intelligence at the time was said to be so convincing. It would appear from what is there in the public domain that that intelligence was from an untested source. That is the sort of very fundamental error in intelligence that I find staggering."

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