Straw admits he wanted 'killer' words in dossier

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Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, was forced to admit yesterday that he had wanted a "killer paragraph" inserted to the September Iraq weapons dossier and the document "strengthened" on weapons of mass destruction.

But he refused to be drawn on the extent of his own involvement in the apparent wish of two of his senior officials that the identity of David Kelly should be disclosed.

The revelations had come in documents released by the Hutton inquiry and published in The Independent yesterday. Michael Ancram, the shadow Foreign Secretary, wrote to Mr Straw demanding "full" answers. Mr Ancram said later: "The processes within Government that led to the naming of Dr Kelly are fundamental to Lord Hutton's inquiry. From the latest evidence we now know that two senior officials in Jack Straw's department were openly supporting the naming of Dr Kelly. It would be incredible if they did not consult Mr Straw on this matter. There are now serious questions regarding the role of the Foreign Secretary in both the naming of Dr Kelly and the September dossier. These need to be answered as a matter of urgency."

The Foreign Secretary is yet to appear before Lord Hutton. However, in the light of the evidence, he might be called to testify when proceedings resume next week.

The Hutton documents reveal that Mark Sedwell, who was Mr Straw's private secretary at the time, had asked for a "killer paragraph" to be put into the dossier. Mr Straw was asked about this on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He responded "This is an accurate reference to an e-mail that was sent on my behalf by a private secretary, and what I wanted was to raise the prominence of Saddam Hussein's defiance of the United Nations over 12 years."

He added: "As to any role I had in the dossier, of course, I had a role in the dossier. Whether Lord Hutton wishes to talk to me is a matter entirely for Lord Hutton. I am not going to go into details because there are questions about the comments I made."

If he does testify at the inquiry, Mr Straw is likely to be asked about an exchange of e-mails between Peter Ricketts, the former political director at the Foreign Office, and John Williams, the head of the news department.

In an e-mail copied to, among others, Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of strategy and communications, Mr Ricketts said: "I don't think there is a problem for us if the press name him [Dr Kelly]. No need for us to be defensive; so I agree with John that if the name is presented to us, we should confirm. But let's do it in an organised way. I suggest we leave it to John W, and deflect attempts to get half a dozen of us to say different things!"

Mr Ricketts was responding to an e-mail from John Williams ("John W"). In his memorandum, also copied to Mr Campbell, Mr Williams wrote: "I am very happy for him to be named. Nothing personal. James [Blitz, a journalist with the Financial Times] is absolutely right that the BBC is behaving outrageously in defence of a story based on duff information. We'd all look tidier if we just confirmed."

The e-mail exchange took place on 9 July - the same day that Dr Kelly's name was confirmed to journalists by the press office at the Ministry of Defence.

In another e-mail Mr Sedwell revealed the Foreign Secretary's role in "hardening up" the Iraq dossier.

In a memorandum copied again to Mr Campbell, as well as John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Mr Sedwell said: "The Foreign Secretary has now had a chance to go through the draft dossier. He has endorsed the comments I made earlier on it ... and has the additional points."

The points endorsed by Mr Straw include "the first bullet of para 6 [the importance of weapons of mass destruction] should be strengthened to explain the centrality of WMD to Saddam Hussein's role - the projection of power etc.

"... Crucially this section should explain the role of WMD in the political mythology which has sustained the regime."