New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: The Foreign Secretary is clearly right to say that the Joint Intelligence Committee signed off the dossier but, as the Hutton process exposed, that dossier's language was considerably strengthened as a result of representations to the JIC made by Alastair Campbell and other spin doctors. In the light of the findings of the Iraq Survey Group, does the right hon. Gentleman think that the intervention by Alastair Campbell and the other spin doctors made the intelligence more accurate, or less accurate?

[Jack Straw: First, I believe that the role of spin doctors can be overspun. Palpably, there are many lessons to be learned from the fact that some of the intelligence turned out to be wrong, but some of the intelligence – such as that received about Iraqi missile systems – turned out to be amazingly accurate. However, I accepted the intelligence without too much inquiry because of everything else that I knew, from perfectly public sources, about the record of Saddam, who continued to defy Security Council resolutions for many years, even though he could have put himself in order. Also, as late as 7 March 2003, Dr. Blix published a 173-page report in respect of unanswered disarmament questions, in which he stated that there was a strong presumption that 10,000 litres of anthrax remained in Iraq. I am very proud of our intelligence service and I remind the hon. Gentleman that it had made very accurate judgments, on a similar intelligence base, about Libya, the A.Q. Khan network and other matters. That is why I, and the rest of us, accepted the intelligence.]