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Document treasure trove reveals key clues
Critical differences between early and final drafts of dossier are laid bare as daily release of papers establishes fuller picture
Nicholas Watt, political correspondent
Thursday August 14, 2003
Documents released to the Hutton inquiry appear to confirm the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's central claim that the controversial arms dossier was "sexed up".
An early draft of the dossier, printed 19 days before its publication and headlined Secret Until Released, uses careful language to describe Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The dossier published on September 24 used much stronger language and made a specific claim that Saddam Hussein was planning to attack Shia Muslims in Iraq with banned weapons. The changes go some way to confirming David Kelly's claim that Downing Street embellished the document to produce eye-catching headlines about Iraq's banned weapons.
The early draft forms part of a treasure trove of documents containing extraordinary details about the David Kelly affair being amassed daily on the Hutton inquiry's official website. The documents, which include previously confidential government memos, are likely to be seen as one of the most crucial elements of the inquiry when Lord Hutton reaches his conclusions in the autumn.
The most significant document published by the inquiry so far gives a tantalising glimpse of an early draft of the Downing Street dossier printed on September 5. Although only the first page is reproduced, this reveals a notable change in language.
The early draft says Iraq's "military planning specifically envisages the use of" banned weapons; that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons and continues to develop nuclear weapons. The final version said "Iraq has continued to produce chemical and biological agents; [has] military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population".
The early draft said intelligence about Iraq's banned weapons "cannot be made public" because it is "extremely sensitive" and "great care has to be taken to protect our sources". This is removed from the final version, which says that intelligence has been provided by Iraqi defectors.
There is no mention in the first draft seen on the Hutton website of the explosive allegation at the heart of the row - that Iraq could launch a banned weapons attack within 45 minutes of an order - which was inserted at the last minute. Downing Street has said the 45 minute claim did not come to light until September 9.
The changes to the dossier confirmed a Guardian report of July 3 that Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's director of communications, suggested a series of alterations.
The documents submitted to the Hutton inquiry are likely to make fascinating reading for historians. An internal government document, which appeared on Monday, gave the first formal confirmation that intelligence officials harboured doubts about the 45 minute claim.
But Downing Street will have been delighted by an internal BBC memo expressing grave concerns about Gilligan's report.
Lord Hutton, who is unable to compel witnesses to attend his inquiry, is also unable to demand documents because he is chairing an ad hoc inquiry which falls outside the scope of the 1921 Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act. An inquiry under the terms of the act, such as the Shipman inquiry, gives the chairman the right to compel witnesses to attend and to hand over relevant documents.
Lord Hutton has secured documents through two routes: witnesses who have answered a request from him to hand over documents, and witnesses who have handed over documents which they believe would be useful. Nobody has refused to cooperate so far.
New technology first used in the Shipman inquiry allows documents to be flashed up on plasma screens in court as soon as they are referred to at the hearings.
Inquiry website: www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk