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Secret emails reveal sexing-up of Iraq dossier

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Opposition parties are today renewing calls for a proper investigation into the Iraq war because a Freedom of Information request has revealed senior officials were concerned about how the intelligence was presented.

The emails relate to the dossier on Iraq's imaginary weapons of mass destruction shown to Parliament in September 2002. The mails discuss removing caveats from early drafts and officials express concern that language used needed to be moderated but they doubted politicians would listen to their fears. The document pre-dates the so-called "dodgy dossier" which was published in February 2003 and was revealed to have several sections cut-and-pasted from a student's thesis.

Another email asks "Dr Frankenstein, I presume?" when commenting on claims that Saddam Hussein had hired experts for his nuclear weapon programme, AP reports.

But the main claim of campaigners - that the claim that Iraq could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes was added to the document by press staff rather than intelligence officials - is not upheld by the mails.

Edward Davey, Lib Dem shadow Foreign Secretary,said: "This confirms the widely held suspicions that leading officials and political advisers close to Tony Blair were deliberately tweaking the presentation of the intelligence to bolster the case for war on Iraq.

"Together these documents reveal a systematic and deliberate attempt to paint the worst possible case."

Of course the government has sidestepped this debate before - Jack Straw used his veto power to over rule the Information Tribunal which ordered the release of Cabinet minutes of the debate on invading Iraq. ®

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