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The Butler Review

The Butler Review on Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction

After calls for an independent inquiry into why the UK was taken to war with Iraq, in February 2004 the Government set up an inquiry (review committee) but it was far from adequate:  
I supported those calling for a wider remit with as many hearings as possible in public (given the openness of the process of the Hutton inquiry, the model being used for the Butler Review of the Franks inquiry into the Falklands War, set up by Thatcher, is unacceptable). I also support the view that the review committee should include a government member who was sceptical about the claim that the Saddam Hussein regime's "WMD" represented a "clear and present" threat.

Prior to the announcement of the Review, I signed a Parliamentary Motion calling for an independent inquiry and on the appointment of the Review committee, another motion, expressing my concern about the appointment of Lord Butler to head the Government's inquiry (I have reproduced the text of the motions below).

EDM 502

That this House believes that there should now be convened an independent inquiry into why the UK was taken to war with Iraq.  

EDM 540                  

That this House notes that Lord Butler, as Cabinet Secretary, told the Scott Inquiry when asked about the less than full information being provided in parliamentary answers, 'You have to be selective about the facts'; and commented to the Scott Inquiry, on parliamentary answers, 'It was an accurate but incomplete answer. The purpose of it was to give an answer which itself was true. It did not give the full picture. It was half an answer'; and believes that this attitude shown by Lord Butler towards the importance of the provision of proper accurate information to Parliament undermines his credibility as a fair and impartial chairman for the Weapons of Mass Destruction Intelligence Inquiry.

On June 17 2004, Llew Smith MP and I made a joint submission to the Butler Review on the grave doubts about the veracity of the UK Government claim that Iraq 'sought to procure significant quantities of uranium from Africa'. 

Click here to read our submission

Click here to read the Butler Report

We were very disappointed in the findings of the Review on the 'uranium from Africa claim'.  To point out the inadequacies of the Review's conclusions on this matter, I tabled an Early Day Motion and sent two letters with Llew Smith MP, to the Guardian letters page, which are all reproduced below:


That this House notes the Butler Committee support for the Government’s claim that Iraq sought to procure uranium from Africa; notes that after stating Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999, the Butler Review’s reasons for agreeing this was to discuss uranium procurement were (a) uranium is Niger’s main export (b) Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger in the 1980’s (c) Iraq could not access indigenous uranium and (d) due to ‘other evidence of Iraq seeking to restart its nuclear programme.’; further notes the Review states elsewhere ‘The JIC cautioned that, on Iraq’s nuclear programme: We have no clear intelligence…’; recalls that the Government stated (PQ-147621) it gave no intelligence to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on this issue; questions why GCHQ intelligence on the visit of the Iraqi official to Niger was not given to the IAEA if this was the basis of the claim; questions the relevance of the Butler Committee’s reference to intelligence ‘from additional sources’ on the Niger claim and intelligence that Iraq had procured uranium from the Democratic Republic of Congo, as parliamentary answers state that Niger was the Country in question and that the Government is relying on one source from a third country which discussed the information with the IAEA before the latter concluded that the specific Niger allegations were unfounded; further notes that Butler solicited the IAEA view and then made no comment on it; concludes that Lord Butler's conclusions on the uranium from Africa issue are not credible.

July 16, 2004
Guardian Letters page:

You reproduce the Butler report's conclusion in support of the government's lonely view that Iraq sought to procure uranium from Niger (Evidence stretched to "outer limits", July 15). But in the main body of the report, the weakness of this conclusion is exposed. After stating that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999, the explanation given as to how the UK came to "know" the visit's purpose is: (a) because uranium ore accounts for almost three-quarters of Niger's exports; (b) Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger in the 1980s; (c) Iraq could not access indigenous uranium; and (d) due to "other evidence of Iraq seeking to restart its nuclear programme". However, Butler also tells us that "the JIC cautioned that, on Iraq's nuclear programme, we have no clear intelligence".

Lynne Jones MP, Labour,Birmingham Selly Oak
Llew Smith MP, Labour, Blaenau Gwent

- - - - - -

July 23, 2004
Guardian Letters page:

It is interesting that the US press is willing to accept Butler's conclusion on the uranium from Niger claim so unquestioningly (The Editor, July 22).

In fact, Butler solicited the view of the International Atomic Energy Agency, but astoundingly makes no comment on its conclusion that there is no evidence to support the claim. Butler also completely ignores our official submission (www.

The US media do not report that when questioned by the press on the credibility of his support for the isolated UK view on this matter, Butler pointed to his committee colleague, Ann Taylor MP, and reminded us of the conclusion of the intelligence and security committee (which is appointed by the prime minister), of which she is chair.

Without impugning the integrity of the ISC chair, it is self-evidently bad practice to appoint someone to a committee when their previous conclusions are under scrutiny. There must be a rigorous independent inquiry.

Lynne Jones MP, Labour,Birmingham Selly Oak
Llew Smith MP, Labour, Blaenau Gwent

- - - - - -

Prior to the publication of the Butler Review I tabled the Motion below to highlight the lack of cooperation by the Government in responding to Parliamentary questions, in particular on the UK's responsiblity to give any information it had on the 'uranium claim' to the IAEA - I am still pursuing this matter with Jack Straw as I have not had a satisfactory response:


That this House notes with concern the refusal of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to answer Parliamentary Question 182618 of 8th July put by the honourable Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak on whether signals intelligence picked up by GCHQ concerning a visit by an Iraqi official to Niger was passed on to the International Atomic Energy Agency, instead stating that 'it would not be appropriate to comment publicly on the detail of this intelligence reporting'; notes that no detail was being requested in this question; is perplexed because previous parliamentary questions asking what information has been passed to the IAEA by the United Kingdom Government have been answered by Foreign Office ministers; calls upon the Foreign Secretary to make it known to the House whether the GCHQ intelligence in question was passed to the IAEA; further notes that since 6th May in response to other parliamentary questions regarding the claim in the Government's September 2002 Dossier, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction that Iraq had attempted to procure significant quantities of uranium from Africa, PQs 170513, 171178, 173387, 175478, 175493 and 175494, the Foreign Secretary has refused to answer, referring to the fact that Lord Butler of Brockwell is conducting a review; believes that by referring to the Butler Review instead of answering parliamentary questions, the Government is replacing parliamentary accountability with a secret inquiry on these matters; and suggests to the Foreign Secretary that by his uncooperative actions he is undermining the House's rightful role of scrutinising the policies and actions of ministers


to submission to Butler Review

to Iraq page


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