Saturday, July 28, 2007

MP submits FOI request

John Baron

Press Releases (23 July 2007)

John Baron MP requests Iraq covering letter under Freedom of Information Act

Following his debate and questions in the House of Commons, John Baron MP has submitted an Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister Kim Howells requesting a copy of a covering letter sent to the Hutton Inquiry by the Government in 2003, along with a draft of the Iraq dossier written in 2002 by John Williams – a press officer at the FCO. This document was written one day before the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee wrote his own first draft of the dossier, and is itself subject to an FOI and appeal against the Information Commissioner by the Government.

John said:

"Despite assurances from the Government, there is no firm evidence that the Williams draft was given to the Inquiry – and no evidence that its significance was properly flagged up and understood. I was previously told that the covering letter accompanying the Williams draft would be made available, but now the Government is stalling. I am therefore seeking this document under the Freedom of Information Act."

"We do know that the BBC as a party to the case has no copy of this letter among its records. The document was not part of the evidence made public by Lord Hutton, and now a link to the list of confidential submissions is not working on the Inquiry's website. The covering letter proving that the Hutton Inquiry did indeed receive the Williams draft is therefore important."

"Everyone knows about the "sexing up" of the Iraq dossier, but we need to examine better the role played by spin doctors in its production. If the Williams draft was a purely innocent exercise, and if Lord Hutton did have an opportunity to see it, Ministers should have nothing to fear from publication."

From Hansard (also 23 July 2007)

Written Answers

Iraq: Weapons

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the adjournment debate in Westminster Hall of 13 June 2007, Official Report, column 288WH, on the Iraq Dossier (September 2002), when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Billericay, dated 18 June, on John Williams's draft Iraq dossier. [151824]

Dr. Howells: I replied to the hon. Member on 19 July.


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