Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Straw Admits 'A Very Substantial Error' over Iraq Weapons Dossier

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Straw Admits 'A Very Substantial Error' over Iraq Weapons Dossier

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK HENNESSY;BEN LEAPMAN

DOWNING Street's second dossier detailing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was a "very great embarrassment" for the Government, Jack Straw admitted today.

The Foreign Secretary's dramatic concession came as he was quizzed by MPs on the so-called "dodgy dossier", parts of which were copied from 13-year-old academic research.

Mr Straw pointed the finger of responsibility firmly at Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's powerful communications chief, who is to give evidence to the all-party Foreign Affairs committee tomorrow.

Asked who should take responsibility for the dossier he said: "Mr Campbell initiated it. It was authorised by the Prime Minister. It did not come to the Foreign Office."

Mr Straw offered Mr Blair a defence from blame for the dossier by claiming it was "an entirely reasonable assumption by the Prime Minister" that it had come from "normal channels" - the security services.

Instead, the foreign secretary admitted that the document had not been properly sourced and that the right procedures had not been followed. He also acknowledged that subtle changes had guest of the Queen.

been made to the original text from a PhD thesis, including the changing of a claim that Saddam's regime was linked to "opposition groups" abroad to "terrorist organisations".

"Those changes should not have been made," he said in a two-hour evidence session. It was a "very substantial error that the sources of the document were not properly attributed. The mistake that was made there is that it was a briefing paper which then included intelligence and it was not subject to proper procedures or for proper checking.

"Of course, it has been an embarrassment for the Government and lessons have been learned. It is an episode which has been a very great embarrassment to the Government, particularly because it has enabled those who were opposed to military action in any case to claim.. …

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