Revealed: Sexed-up dossier that took UK to war against Iraq

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London, Feb.19 : The Gordon Brown Government in Britain has published the secret first draft of a sexed-up document that reportedly convinced the country to go to war with Iraq in 2003.

According to The Independent, the first draft made a series of lurid claims about the extent and danger of the Iraqi president's weapons arsenal. But those were expressed in even stronger terms by September 2002, when the official dossier on which Tony Blair based the case for war was published.

Ministers had fought a three-year battle to stop the confidential initial draft from being released, but last month lost an appeal against a ruling that it should be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.

John Williams, the former director of communications at the Foreign Office, wrote the paper, whose existence first emerged during the Hutton inquiry in 2003.

He warned that Saddam had come to power by "torture, rape and execution" and concluded that Iraq presented a "uniquely dangerous threat to the world".

The Williams paper made a series of detailed claims about the Iraqi president's stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

The final dossier, attributed to John Scarlett, who was then the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, made the bold assertion: "Iraq's military forces are able to use chemical and biological weapons, with command, control and logistical arrangements in place. The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so."

In addition, language used in Mr Williams' assessment of the threat from Saddam was toughened up several times by the publication of the final dossier.

The Hutton inquiry into the death of the weapons expert Dr David Kelly heard claims that evidence against Saddam was "sexed up" by Downing Street by the time it was presented to the public.

Last night, Williams told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "The 45-minutes claim was absolutely nothing whatever to do with me. It was news to me."

According to the Government, the Williams dossier was quickly set aside after it was decided that Sir John should be made responsible for the document.

Last night, the opposition parties said the language used by Mr Williams, the former political editor of the Daily Mirror, showed that ministers initially turned to senior press officers to make eye-catching claims about the evils of Saddam's regime. They renewed calls for a public inquiry into the build-up to the conflict.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the Government had not released the draft earlier because of concerns that officials could be deterred from offering frank advice if they feared it could be made public.

ANI

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