Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 1080-1099)


25 JUNE 2003

  Q1080  Mr Maples: I cannot find it now.

  Mr Campbell: He is an administrative support assistant in my office.

  Q1081  Mr Maples: You describe him as a "member of the support team in my department". Who does he work for?

  Mr Campbell: He works obviously for me but the person he works for is Peter Hyman.

  Q1082  Mr Maples: Did Peter Hyman have input into this document?

  Mr Campbell: Absolutely not.

  Q1083  Mr Maples: Nothing at all?

  Mr Campbell: Nothing at all.

  Q1084  Mr Maples: But he is a politically appointed specialist adviser in No 10?

  Mr Campbell: Who? John Pratt?

  Q1085  Mr Maples: No. Peter Hyman.

  Mr Campbell: Peter Hyman is. He had nothing to do with this whatever.

  Q1086  Mr Maples: Somebody who works for him does, but he had nothing to do with it?

  Mr Campbell: Can I explain what John Pratt's role in this ridiculous story was? John Pratt—and I think when people hear this they will be stunned that this is how stories get into newspapers—this story appeared in The Guardian as I explained in my note and it said these four people worked on this report. I can explain to you what the people in my office did, and I think somebody has got hold of the record of this thing and it appears apparently in today's Independent newspaper. It was e-mailed from the CIC to one of my staff in No 10 because I wanted to take the latest draft on the plane to America. The person to whom it was sent sits next to John Pratt. She said, "John, have you got a spare disc that I can copy this on to?" John Pratt gave her a disc. It was copied on to the disc. The disc was then handed to my personal assistant. My personal assistant took it on the plane. I made some changes in manuscript, she typed them in. On bringing it back to No 10, she gave it to the website editor. On those prosaic realities is built the most absurd mountain of conspiracy and nonsense.

  Q1087  Mr Maples: Well, you have gone some way to correcting that in your memo to us and I accept that, but when we find that somebody is a relatively junior official and all he did was lend somebody else a disc but he works for a politically appointed special adviser who works for you—there are more politically appointed specialist advisers in Downing Street under this administration than there have ever been in the past and their fingerprints are awfully close to all these documents, and I am just suggesting here is another link.

  Mr Campbell: I am a special adviser and I have taken responsibility for the second paper. In relation to this, there would be no reason by the way, had I felt it appropriate for Peter Hyman to be involved in this, that he should not have been, but the fact is he was not and I do think—you were saying this was not a time for political discussion but I do think there is a political point.

  Q1088  Mr Maples: Let me ask something in relation to the Foreign Secretary. In his note to us the Foreign Secretary said in relation to this document, "No FCO ministers or FCO specialist advisers were consulted in the document. No 10 officials including special advisers asked for some changes"[5]

  Mr Campbell: That is me.

  Q1089  Mr Maples: That is only you?

  Mr Campbell: That is me. I am a special adviser.

  Q1090  Mr Maples: It says "including special advisers", in the plural. Is that just a grammatical thing?

  Mr Campbell: All I know is that the special adviser who was involved in this is the special adviser who was the chair of the Iraq Communications Group and that is me. Peter Hyman had nothing to do with it whatever.

  Q1091  Mr Maples: Could we move on to the dossier of the weapons of mass destruction because I want to put to you that we were told by two of our witnesses, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones who is a former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and a former Australian intelligent agent, that this document did not read like a Joint Intelligence Committee assessment. The language was not like a Joint Intelligence Committee assessment, and there may be perfectly acceptable explanations for that but the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments tended to be full of qualifications and ambiguities, and "maybe this" and "perhaps that" and equivalents, whereas the document, at least in its executive summary, is much more certain. I do not know if you are aware of the document that was published in 1998 before Desert Fox, and again this is published over the name of Derek Fatchett, the minister at the Foreign Office at the time and is an intelligent assessment, and I want to quote to you two short lines from it: "The Iraqi chemical industry could produce mustard gas almost immediately and limited amounts of nerve gas within months"—"could"—"Saddam almost certainly retains some BW production equipment, stocks of agents and weapons". But in the summary to this document, admittedly four years later, we have, "Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes". The language is much more definite. What Dame Pauline Neville-Jones said to us is to have been able to go from one to the other there would have to be some new piece of intelligence which really substantiated in a much harder form the second statement, because it is not fundamentally different but certainly different in quality to the first, and I wonder if you saw such intelligence which justified the making of a much stronger claim?

  Mr Campbell: I am not intimately acquainted with the Derek Fatchett paper but if you go back to the whole background to the WMD dossier of September 2002 I think the Prime Minister said publicly that one of the reasons why he wanted to do this was because there was continuing new intelligence that he was seeing that made him feel there was a growing threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme. Now, again, it is not for me to talk about the intelligence or the assessments that are made by the Joint Intelligence Committee but I can only assume that, if there was a change in position, it was as a result of new intelligence which, as the Prime Minister said, was crossing his desk the whole time.

  Q1092  Mr Maples: But would you agree the language is different, it is more definite in this dossier? There is another point too, if you look at what is actually said in the dossier the Government published in September, it said, "The JIC concluded that Iraq had sufficient expertise, equipment and material to produce biological warfare agents within weeks using its legitimate bio-technology facilities", and that, "The JIC assessed that Iraq retained some chemical warfare agents, precursors, production equipment and weapons from before the Gulf War. These stocks would enable Iraq to produce significant quantities of mustard gas within weeks and of nerve agents within months." But in the summary that has become, "Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents." I suggest to you that the summary is a much stronger statement than actually what the main body of the document says. Can I give you another example before you respond to that. On the 45 minutes piece on page 19 of the dossier it says, and this it seems to me is a much lower degree of certainty remark, "Intelligence indicates . . ."—not, "The JIC has concluded"—". . . that the Iraqi military are able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes." The summary says, "Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes." I am putting to you that there are three respects in which the summary is, I would suggest, almost fundamentally different from what the body of the document suggests.

  Mr Campbell: All I can say to you on that is that the executive summary—and this goes for the entire document—was the product of the pen of the Joint Intelligence Committee chairman. So if these are intelligence judgments that he is putting into the dossier, that is because they are the best assessment of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Again, I do not think it is for me to sit and do textual analysis on them. That document was the document which was presented to us. The changes we made in relation to it had nothing to do with the overriding intelligence assessments. I think the point you are trying to put to me is that the executive summary was harder than the body of the text. All I know is that the Joint Intelligence Committee chairman stands by every word of the document.

  Q1093  Mr Maples: That may be, but it does not necessarily belie the point I am making. The Prime Minister in his introduction says, "The document published today is based, in large part, on the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee"—

  Mr Campbell: A lot of it, for example, is UNSCOM reports. The JIC imprimatur is on this but it is not as if this issue just sort of started in September 2002.

  Q1094  Mr Maples: We know how Government documents are prepared, somebody prepares a draft, it is circulated, points go in and I am perfectly prepared to accept what you say that the first draft came from the JIC and the final product was signed off by them, but I suggest that when you said, "I had several discussions with the chairman of the JIC on presentational issues and made drafting suggestions", you had some responsibility for the sort of things I was saying.

  Mr Campbell: I can say that is not the case. As I pointed to in earlier exchanges, there were points that I raised, on some of them the Joint Intelligence Committee chairman would say, "That is absolutely fine, I have no trouble with that at all", on others he would say, "We cannot say that because it would not be our best assessment" or "In fact I think the way we have done it is better." It was that kind of discussion. It was, as presented as a first draft, a very good and thorough piece of work. So I do not accept the premise, I am afraid.

  Q1095  Mr Maples: The problem with this is that when this document was produced everybody, even your political opponents like me, believed it because here is the Government publishing something which is the product of the Joint Intelligence Committee and we believed it. Then along comes the dodgy dossier and it turns out to be certainly not what it said but an amateurish, irresponsible and misleading piece of work, and it was presented by the Prime Minister to Parliament as the product of the intelligence services, and we all find out then what it was. Then we start to think, "Hang on, it casts this in doubt". That, I suggest, is the problem you have got. That incredibly amateurish, irresponsible, dodgy dossier is what has created your problem. I do not think people would give much time to the allegations that you and the people who work with you improved—to use a neutral word—this document if it had not been for the whole story of the dodgy dossier.

  Mr Campbell: People can make whatever allegations they like, the serious allegation against me is that I abused intelligence, and that is a pretty serious allegation which we should take seriously and I hope I have made clear that with the authority of the intelligence community leadership I can say that is completely untrue. I made the point earlier that the second briefing paper got next to no coverage. It has had hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of words written about it since that one mistake within the CIC was made. As I said to you in my memorandum, I simply do not think that should be allowed to define the totality of a huge amount of communications which went on between the Prime Minister and the Government, Parliament and the public. I have given you one example, how many times have you heard on the television or the radio, "This report which was authored by four people working in my office". I have explained to you, that is simply not true. We have said to the media time and again it is not true, but they still run it.

  Q1096  Mr Maples: I am not responsible for them.

  Mr Campbell: I know you are not, but a lot of the questions you are putting to me are based upon false stories whose authors somehow feel that if they say them often enough people will believe them.

  Q1097  Mr Maples: The basis of the questions on the dodgy dossier is us discovering the extent to which you used Mr al-Marashi's paper—

  Mr Campbell: And I have explained how that happened.

  Q1098  Mr Maples: I know.—and that that work was altered in what is obviously an incredibly amateurish way in which this—

  Mr Campbell: No, if I may. It was not altering Mr al-Marashi's work, because the people who were suggesting changes had no idea who Mr al-Marashi was. You can accept that or not. That is where the mistake was made.

  Q1099  Mr Maples: Precise sentences—

  Mr Campbell: How many times do we have to acknowledge it was a mistake, apologies were given, new procedures put in place. I can say it hundreds of times if it helps but that is the fact, there was one mistake in this.

5   Ninth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 2002-03, The Decision to go to War in Iraq, HC 813-II, Ev 61. Back

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