The emerging picture of how dossier was compiled

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Indy Politics

30 August 2002: An MI6 report, shown to the inquiry yesterday, makes the first reference to the "45-minutes" claim. It came from a senior Iraqi officer via a trusted intermediary.

3 September: Tony Blair announces at a press conference that the Government intended to compile a dossier bringing together intelligence on Iraq's weapons arsenal.

5 September: The 45-minute claim is assessed for its reliability by the Joint Intelligence Committee. It concludes: "Iraq has probably dispersed its special weapons, including CBW weapons. Intelligence also indicates that from forward deployed storage sites, chemical and biological munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 45 minutes."

Separately, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's director of communications, chairs a meeting that calls for a rewrite of the previous dossier on Iraq, asking for more detail and more attribution.

6 September: A memo between unnamed Defence Intelligence officers says: "The intelligence reveals a maximum of 45 minutes. Average was 20 minutes. This could have important implications in the event of a conflict."

John Williams, press secretary at the Foreign Office, offers to do a "media-friendly editorial job" on the emerging dossier.

9 September: The JIC assessment is revised to state: "Intelligence also indicates that chemical and biological munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 20 to 45 minutes." Mr Campbell chairs a meeting with intelligence officers to discuss the format, structure and presentation of the dossier, believed to be the first time the 45-minute claim was talked about in Downing Street. John Scarlett, JIC chairman, said yesterday that intelligence matters were not discussed at this meeting.

10 September: A revised draft of the dossier was delivered to Downing Street in the afternoon. It says: "Iraq continues to have the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons and has probably already done so."

11 September: The document is circulated in Downing Street and officials in the press office begin to make suggestions. A senior aide, Philip Bassett, warns: "Think we're in a lot of trouble with this as it stands now." There is a further meeting to discuss presentational issues. An e-mail says No 10 wants "the document to be as strong as possible within the bounds of available intelligence. This is therefore a last call for any items of intelligence that agencies think can and should be included. Responses needed by 12:00 tomorrow."

13 September: A fresh version of the dossier has conflicting language about the certainty of the 45-minute claim. Words used include "might", "may" and "could".

17 September: Mr Campbell, at a meeting with Mr Scarlett, makes 15 comments about the emerging dossier, including the ambiguity over the 45-minutes claim. He says: "I think we should make the point about current concealment claims [of weapons]."

18 September: Mr Scarlett e-mails back: "The language you quoted ... has been tightened."

24 September: The dossier is published in the Commons. Tony Blair's foreword says: "I am in no doubt that the threat is serious and current, that he has made progress on WMD and that he has to be stopped."

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