'BLAIR'S SMOKESCREEN TACTICS'

Daily Telegraph – 11 July 2003

As you reported (July 10), the Prime Minister has now sought to tie in the Conservative Party leader with the second ("dodgy") dossier on Iraq, even though no information about that dossier was given to Iain Duncan Smith until nine days after it had been published. This is part of Mr Blair's smokescreen tactics to avoid the apology he owes to Parliament for misleading the House of Commons.

The key facts are these:

On February 3, the Prime Minister told the House:

"We issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence reports".

This clearly indicated that the second dossier was, entirely or predominantly, composed of material from the intelligence services.

On June 16, Dr Glen Rangwala of Cambridge University wrote to the Foreign Affairs Committee with a page-by-page analysis of the dossier, pointing out that:

"The bulk of the 19-page document (pp 6–16) is directly copied without acknowledgement from three different sources that are on the internet"

– namely, articles by Ibrahim al-Marashi, currently a DPhil student at Oxford, and Sean Boyne and Ken Gause, both former contributors to Jane's Intelligence Review.

On June 19, Mr al-Marashi, the author of the main plagiarised article, told the Foreign Affairs Committee:

"I would say that 90 per cent of this intelligence dossier was taken from the three articles … virtually unchanged.''

On July 8, the Prime Minister flatly contradicted this in his testimony to the Liaison Committee, claiming:

"It is not true that 90 per cent of it came from the reference document."

Apparently unaware of the fact that at least three articles had been plagiarised, he claimed that the first and third parts of the dossier "were, indeed, based on intelligence" and that just the "second part was mainly based on this reference document" by Mr al-Marashi.

Finally, on the following day, he told the Commons:

"That part of it [the dossier] that was expressed to be based on intelligence was, indeed, based on intelligence. So I am afraid that I do not accept that Parliament was misled in any way at all."

He then challenged Mr Duncan Smith to say if he was disputing the truth of the intelligence content of the dossier.

Yet the misleading of Parliament lay not in the accuracy or otherwise of any minuscule intelligence content of the second dossier, as the Prime Minister is well aware, but in the fact that it was fraudulently commended to the House by him on February 3 as primarily intelligence-based.

This is a matter that will not easily be brushed aside.

JULIAN LEWIS MP
Opposition Spokesman for Defence
House of Commons
London SW1