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Parliamentary panel raps Blair on Iraq
July 07, 2003 22:56 IST
A British parliamentary committee has found that Prime Minister Tony Blair 'misrepresented' the findings of intelligence information on Iraq's weapons programme.
But the panel said the government did not 'mislead' the public ahead of the war.
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the dossier gave undue prominence to a claim that Iraq had biological and chemical weapons that could be deployed in 45 minutes of Saddam Hussein giving the order.
In the 54-page report, the MPs, in a split decision, said Blair's press chief Alastair Campbell did not 'sex up' the dossier.
The committee said Campbell played no role in inserting a controversial section claiming Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were deployable within 45 minutes.
The BBC quoted an intelligence source as saying that Campbell insisted on inserting the passage in the dossier despite reservations from the intelligence services.
"It is too soon to tell whether the government's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will prove correct," the report said.
On the second so-called 'dodgy dossier' published last February, the MPs argued that Blair 'misrepresented' its status in Parliament and 'thus inadvertently made a bad situation worse'.
Besides, they said Campbell and his team was given too much autonomy.
The report said the document was 'almost wholly counter-productive' and it was 'fundamentally wrong' for it to have been referred to by Blair in the House of Commons.
"We further conclude that by referring to the document on the floor of the House of Commons as 'further intelligence' the prime minister -- who has not been informed of its provenance, doubts about which only came to light several days later -- misrepresented its status," the committee's report said.
The dossier contained an un-attributed academic paper and such plagiarism was 'wholly unacceptable', the committee said.