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Government told: Release secret Iraq documents

Additions to sexed-up weapons docs

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The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has told the government that it should release draft versions of a dossier about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction and comments made on it by spy chiefs.

The Hutton Inquiry resulted in much of the dossier, prepared for the Joint Intelligence Committee, being made public. But the new request covered draft versions of the report prepared between 11 and 16 September 2002, and comments added to those versions by Defence Intelligence Staff or anyone else. The complaint was first made to the ICO in December 2005. The dossier was made public in September 2002. It is different to the "dodgy dossier", released the following February, which was criticised for cribbing content from a Google search.

The dossier included the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed within 45 minutes. At the time, there were allegations that it had been "sexed-up" by government spin doctors to strengthen support for the invasion. Dr David Kelly killed himself after he was named as the source of accusations that the government manipulated the dossier.

But parts of the document will remain redacted. The ICO accepted Cabinet Office claims that publication of one half-sentence would damage "the trust within which confidential exchanges between the United Kingdom and other Governments takes place" - presumably a reference to the US which has a seat on the JIC.

Earlier this year the Cabinet Office was ordered to release minutes of Cabinet meetings held between 7 and 17 March in which the legality or otherwise of the proposed invasion of Iraq was discussed.

The government has 35 days to consider whether or not to appeal the ICO decision.

The full judgement is here (27-page pdf). ®

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