What evidence does
the UK Government have that Iraq possesses WMD or of a link between Iraq and al-Qa'ida?
The Butler Review on
Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction
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: http://www.butlerreview.org.uk/
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.
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).
INQUIRY INTO WAR WITH IRAQ 27.01.04
That this House believes that there should now be convened an independent inquiry into
why the UK was taken to war with Iraq.
CONDUCT OF LORD BUTLER OF BROCKWELL 03.02.04
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.
continuing to ask questions about the intelligence that we were given in the run up to the
war and will continue to do so until I get satisfactory answers. For details of how
to look up my Parliamentary Questions and the Ministers answers click here.
on my submission to the Butler Review, on the 'uranium from Africa claim' click here.
Below I have detailed some of the questions I raised in 2003 about the evidence the UK
Government used to try and justify the war.
15 August 2003
I have today written to Tony Blair to request his
reply to my letter of 16 July about the UK Government's failure to hand over the
evidence upon which it based its claim that Iraq sought to procure significant quantities
of uranium from Niger. In my letter I pointed out that a Parliamentary answer
from Bill Rammell MP stating that the reason the UK didnt give its Niger
intelligence to the weapons inspectors is because it came from another country, directly
contracts a statement made by Alastair Campbell when he turned up out of the blue on 27
June for a live interview
on Channel Four News as the government's row with the BBC over its Iraq coverage
intensified. Campbell stated that it was the fake intelligence that was from another country but
the British intelligence put what they put in that dossier on the basis of British
intelligence. Get your facts right before you make serious allegations against a
In view of his comment about factual accuracy, Lynne Jones has written to Tony Blair to
ask which is the correct position; that stated by
Mr Rammell or by Mr Campbell.
Press release: Campbell's
Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
15 August 2003
UK Government breach of Article 10 Security Council
Resolution (SCR) 1441
I wrote to you on 16 July (copy of my letter
enclosed for ease of reference) regarding the above and received an acknowledgement from
Lisa Wand dated 21 July, however, I have yet to receive your reply.
Since my letter to you, I have received the
following parliamentary answer from Bill Rammell in response to a question to him about
our obligations under Resolution 1441:
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary
of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his Answer of 3rd July,
Official Report, column 456W, on Iraq, if he will make a statement on the UK Government's
obligations under Article 10 of Security Council Resolution 1441 to pass to the
International Atomic Energy Agency the information upon which it bases its assessment that
Saddam Hussein's regime attempted to obtain uranium from Africa.
Date answered, 21 July;
The UK has encouraged all
states that have relevant information to pass it on to the UN weapons inspection teams. The information upon which the assessment was made
that Saddam Hussein's regime had attempted to procure uranium from Africa came from the
intelligence service of another Government. Under
the terms of long-established agreements covering the sharing of intelligence information,
no government can pass on such information to anyone else without the express consent of
I note the Ministers statement
that The information upon which the
assessment was made that Saddam Hussein's regime had attempted to procure uranium from Africa came from the
intelligence service of another Government.
However, in the extract reproduced at the end of this letter, from the transcript
of an interview with Downing Street's Director of Communications, Alastair Campbell on 27
June on Channel 4 News, Mr Campbell states that it was the fake documents which were from another country but
that the British intelligence put what they
put in that dossier on the basis of British intelligence. Get your facts right before you
make serious allegations against a government. In
view of his comment about factual accuracy, I should be grateful if you could clarify which is the correct position; that stated by Mr Rammell
or by Mr Campbell?
If Mr Campbell either had his facts wrong or was being
deliberately misleading and the information upon which you based your assessment did not
come from British intelligence, but as Bill Rammell states, from another country, I should
be grateful if, when responding to my letter of 16 July you could provide details of the
titles and relevant sections of the 'long standing agreements' which provide the exemption
from 1441 that the UK Government seeks. Have
the details of the agreements which form the basis of the exemption sought been formally
communicated to the IAEA?
Finally, you will, no doubt, be aware that IAEA
sources indicated the day after your response to my question on 16 July that no such
exemption applies. For example the Guardian
reported a quote from an IAEA spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming: "If there was any other
evidence, it would still be appropriate for the IAEA to receive it".
I look forward to your response to the points
raised in this and in my letter of 16 July.
LYNNE JONES MP
Extract on the Niger Uranium
issue from the transcript of the interview with Downing
Street's Director of Communications Alastair Campbell on
Channel 4 News. Click
here for full transcript
27 June 2003
Jon Snow: The issue in play here today is
absolutely that this war was fought on the basis of intelligence information. That
intelligence information firstly; the charge that in the first document in September there
were serious errors of fact.
Alastair Campbell: Sorry the first document in
September? There were serious errors of fact? And what were they Jon?
Jon Snow: The Niger allegation in which the
Minister who was supposed to have signed the nuclear purchasing order had himself resigned
many years before.
Alastair Campbell: You know do you Jon that that
was the basis on which British intelligence put that in the dossier?
You know that, do you?
Because if you think that, you are wrong. There were no errors of fact in the WMD dossier
in September 2002.
Jon Snow: The Niger source has nothing to do
Alastair Campbell: It was another country's
intelligence, and the British intelligence put what they put in that dossier on the basis
of British intelligence. Get your facts right before you make serious allegations against
16 July 2003
At Prime Minister's Questions today, I challenged Tony
Blair about the failure to pass on to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the
intelligence information upon which he relied when he told the House of Commons that he knew
Iraq sought to buy significant quantities of Uranium from Africa. As the Prime
Minister did not answer my questions, I have written to him today to seek further
clarification and a copy of my letter is posted below. The Hansard
record of my question and Tony's answer is also reproduced below:
Q6.  Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak): On
3 July, the Government finally admitted that they had not passed to the International
Atomic Energy Agency the evidence on which the Prime Minister based his statement to the
House that we know that Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium
from Africa. Is the Prime Minister not concerned that the failure of the source of that
intelligence to pass it on to the IAEA for scrutiny constitutes a breach of article 10 of
Security Council resolution 1441, and would he still use such words of absolute certainty
The Prime Minister: I stand by entirely the claim
that was made last September. Let me make two points to my hon. Friend. First, as she
knows, the intelligence on which we based that was not the so-called forged documents that
have been put to the IAEA. The IAEA has accepted that it received no such forged documents
from British intelligence: we had independent intelligence to that effect. Secondly, it
may be worth pointing out to the House and to the public that it is not as if the link
between Niger and Iraq was some invention of the CIA or Britain. We know that in the 1980s
Iraq purchased more than 270 tonnes of uranium from Niger. Therefore, it is not beyond the
bounds of possibilitylet us at least put it like thatthat Iraq went back to
Niger again. That is why I stand by entirely the statement that was made in the September
Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
UK Government breach of Article 10 Security Council
Resolution (SCR) 1441
I am writing to you regarding your failure to address my question
put to you in the House today.
You will be aware that under Article 10. of SCR 1441 there is a
request that all Member States provide any information relating to Iraqi prohibited
programmes. On 3 July in a Parliamentary
answer, Denis MacShane finally admitted that the UK Government did not pass to the IAEA
any information on Iraqi attempts to procure uranium, which must include the information
on which you based your statement to the House on 24 September that you knew Iraq had recently attempted to procure
I asked whether you were concerned about this breach of SCR 1441
a point you did respond to in your reply and I should be grateful for your
LYNNE JONES MP
04 July 2003
Press release: UK Government keeps intelligence
from Weapons Inspectors
Various committees have
been considering the evidence that was used to justify Britains involvement in the
war on Iraq. Labour Against the War has been concerned that the public debate about
our own investigations into this has focused around individuals rather than evidence.
for a summary of LATW's criticisms of the claims made by the UK Government to justify
attacking Iraq. For information about my own work on this issue, see below.
18 June 2003
After trying, without success, to get information from
the UK Government on whether they have any intelligence to show that there is a link
between Iraq and al-Qaida, I sent the letter below to Tony Blair on
8 April asking whether or not he has evidence that President Bush was correct to state
that "Iraq has aided, trained and harboured terrorists, including operatives of
al-Qaeda"? As of 14 May, despite two reminders, I had not even received an
acknowledgement and released a press release on Blair's silence: Silence from PM on crucial questions on weapons of
mass destruction. On 23 May, I received an inadequate reply from
the Prime Minister which I have posted below.
I will be using all the Parliamentary avenues open to me to point out the inadequacy of
his response. In particular I am interested in the Prime Minister's comment that "We
remain confident in our assessment that Iraq sought to procure significant quantities of
uranium from Africa". As the International
Atomic Energy Agency reported to the Security Council on 7 March 2003 that the
intelligence they had received making such claims was 'not authentic', I subsequently
tabled a Parliamentary Question asking if the UK Government had given all the information
it had to the weapons inspections teams. I received an answer from Mike O'Brien MP,
Minister responsible at the Foreign Office, stating that the Government 'shared all
relevant information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction with the weapons inspection
teams from both UNMOVIC and the IAEA'... why then, didn't this convince Hans Blix or
Mohammed El Baradei...? click here for the full text of the question and
answer. I then asked a further question and
received the following answer:
ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his Answer of
10th June, Official Report, column 793W, when the UK Government gave the IAEA the
information upon which it based its assessment that Iraq
sought to procure substantial quantities of uranium from Africa.
UK Government did not pass to the IAEA any information on Iraqi attempts to procure
Click here for the press
release I have issued in response.
06 June 2003
Press release: Blair challenged over Niger
27 May 2003
Press release: Blair avoids MP's questions on
weapons of mass destruction
5 May 2003
In a recent email to me, my
constituent, Bill Jones raises a key point very succinctly:
All the death, personal
injury, and suffering caused to so many was predicated on the certainty of the
existence of these weapons, and also "justified" by the failure of the UN
inspection team to find them within a timetable shorter than the one the US and UK
governments now seem to consider necessary for their own "inspectors".
Letter to Tony Blair 8 April 2003
Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
Our ref: MIN/D0045w/ID
Date: 08 April 2003
I am writing in response to your unsatisfactory replies to parliamentary questions.
On 24 September 2002, Official Report, Column 4, you made the following statement:
he [Saddam Hussein] has attempted, covertly, to acquire 60,000 or
more specialised aluminum tubes, which are subject to strict controls owing to their
potential use in the construction of gas centrifuges.
Let me tell the House what I know.
I know that there are some countries, or groups within countries, that are
proliferating and trading in weapons of mass destructionespecially nuclear weapons
technology. I know that there are companies, individuals, and some former scientists on
nuclear weapons programmes, who are selling their equipment or expertise. I know that
there are several countriesmostly dictatorships with highly repressive
regimesthat are desperately trying to acquire chemical weapons, biological weapons
or, in particular, nuclear weapons capability. Some of those countries are now a short
time away from having a serviceable nuclear weapon. This activity is not diminishing. It
We all know that there are terrorist groups now operating in most major countries. Just
in the past two years, around 20 different nations have suffered serious terrorist
outrages. Thousands of peoplequite apart from 11 Septemberhave died in them.
The purpose of that terrorism is not just in the violent act; it is in producing terror.
It sets out to inflame, to divide, and to produce consequences of a calamitous nature.
Round the world, it now poisons the chances of political progressin the middle east,
in Kashmir, in Chechnya and in Africa. The removal of the Talibanyesdealt it a
blow. But it has not gone away.
Those two threats have, of course, different motives and different origins, but they
share one basic common view: they detest the freedom, democracy and tolerance that are the
hallmarks of our way of life. At the moment, I accept fully that the association between
the two is loosebut it is hardening. The possibility of the two coming
togetherof terrorist groups in possession of weapons of mass destruction or even of
a so-called dirty radiological bombis now, in my judgment, a real and present danger
to Britain and its national security.
The question from Llew that you referred to as the other part of
your answer was actually asking you to list the countries and groups to which you were
referring in column 768! Your answer was merely that it is not Government policy to
comment on the information on which your concerns were based.
Though I share many of the concerns you raised in your statement about terrorism
(though doubt the attack on Iraq will improve matters on the contrary), this still
does not answer my question about the evidence for your assertion (amongst other things)
that you know that Saddam Hussein has been trying to buy significant quantities of
uranium from Africa.
I am aware of the answer given to Chris Mullins Parliamentary Question answered
on 31 March (105302), in which Mike OBrien states that, despite the fake
intelligence referred to by Dr El-Baradei, which had not been supplied by the UK, other
information was passed to the UN weapons inspection teams from a number of sources in
which the Government continues to have confidence. Presumably, this is the information on
which you rely.
Can you please confirm that all the information on which you have based your
assessment has been passed to UNMOVIC and the IAEA?
If this is the case, is the Government saying that Dr El Baradei and Dr Blix have been
deliberately misleading the Security Council and the public by failing to mention the
existence of the more secure information that the British Government has, according to
Mike OBrien, provided them?
You may recall that soon after your comments in Column 768 I asked you (Column 770) if
President Bushs statement that "Iraq has aided, trained and harboured
terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda" was accurate. You said that you
supported what the President had told the American people but were only able to refer to
Iraqs well known support for the families of suicide bombers, which is not relevant
to President Bushs assertions about links with al-Qaeda. However, in response to a
similar point I made on 20 March, Geoff Hoon told the House "There are clear links
between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda. We are not sure of the precise nature of those
links, but we are certainly aware that they exist". What credibility can be given
to a Secretary of State for Defence who says that there are clear links between the
Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda and in the next breath admits that he doesnt know what
they are? I note that when asked on 25 March what assessment the Foreign Office and made
about the links between the Iraqi regime and terrorism in the Middle East, Mike
OBrien did not mention any link with al-Qaeda. Please confirm whether or not you
have evidence that President Bush was correct to state that "Iraq has aided,
trained and harboured terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda"?
Since the whole rationale for the war on Iraq is that Saddam Hussein has weapons of
mass destruction and, for the American people at least, would supply them to al-Qaeda, I
hope you are confident that, when it is eventually released, the information on which you
and President Bush have relied backs the assertions you have repeatedly made in the House.
I would welcome your response to the points I have made in this letter.
LYNNE JONES MP