Whistle-blower urges Iraq war public inquiry

Former diplomat tells of 'fundamental failure of transparency' in government

A large number of secret documents detailing government blunders over Iraq remain buried in Whitehall, a Foreign Office whistle-blower said yesterday as he called for a full public inquiry into the war.

Carne Ross, formerly Britain's top Iraq specialist at the United Nations, protested that the Butler and Hutton inquiries had not fully examined the events leading to military action in 2003. He told MPs, who are investigating leaks and whistle-blowing by civil servants, that the intelligence available to the Foreign Office made it "very clear" that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction. But he protested that he was not given a proper chance to raise his worries with ministers in the build-up to war.

Mr Ross resigned in 2004 as a civil servant after giving anonymous evidence to the Butler inquiry and is now an independent diplomat.

Giving evidence by videolink from New York to the Commons Public Administration Committee, he said: "I feel very strongly that there has still not been proper accountability and scrutiny into what happened in Iraq.

"There should be a full public inquiry or parliamentary inquiry into the decision-making that took place. Hutton and Butler are by no means sufficient to that purpose and it is disgraceful the Government pretends they are.

"A lot of facts about the run-up to this war have yet to come to light which should come to light and which the public deserves to know.

"There are many other people involved who have yet to tell their story and yet to have been questioned by you or Parliament or anyone else. There are many documents to come to light."

Mr Ross told the committee that officials were driven to desperate measures because of a "fundamental failure of transparency and accountability" within the Government.

He said he had tried to register his alarm over the rush to war during snatched conversations with ministers during their visits to New York, but he was aware of the danger of being labelled a "naïve troublemaker" by speaking out too forcefully.

Another whistle-blower, Brian Jones, the former head of the nuclear, chemical and biological branch of the Ministry of Defence's defence intelligence staff who was a key witness in the Hutton inquiry, said he was "surprised" that MPs did not spot the flaws in the September 2002 dossier that made the case for war.

Dr Jones, who told the Hutton inquiry of his suspicions that evidence was being manipulated, said: "I don't think it needed someone of my expertise to look at the dossier and see the difference between the prime minister's foreword and what was in the main body of the dossier."

He added: "I feel that you gentlemen have been either deliberately or accidentally misled and these incidents have not been followed up. I think that there has been a great laxity and that won't encourage people like me or my colleagues to come to you."

Gordon Brown has resisted calls from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for a public inquiry until all British troops have returned from Iraq, which delays any investigation until next year.

Last night a Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister's view had not changed. He added: "Both the Butler and Hutton inquiries had access to all of the papers they felt were necessary."

Katharine Gun, a former linguist at GCHQ who leaked details of an alleged plot to bug UN delegates before the Iraq war, told the committee that she had no choice but to break the Official Secrets Act.

She was initially charged with breaking the Act after leaking information to the press, only for the case against her to be dropped.

Ms Gun said she suspected that that had happened because ministers feared a jury would acquit her and thereby create a precedent which would encourage further leaking.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer - Northern Home Counties

£27000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their revenue and profit have g...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy