17 September 2003

Sexed up after all

Asked by Lord Hutton what this 'misrepresentation' was, [MI6 Chief] Sir Richard acknowledged that the intelligence in the now-notorious September dossier referred to battlefield weapons and not long-range strategic missiles that could threaten Britain's national interest.

James Dingemans QC, counsel for the inquiry, asked him if he agreed now that the 45-minute claim was given undue prominence. 'I think, given the misinterpretation that was placed on the 45-minute intelligence, with the benefit of hindsight you can say that is a valid criticism, but I am confident the intelligence was accurate and that the use made of it was entirely consistent with the original report,' he replied.

'The original report referred to chemical and biological munitions and that was taken to refer to battlefield weapons. I think what subsequently happened in the reporting was that it was taken that the 45 minutes applied, let's say, to weapons of a longer range.'

Sir Richard's 57 minutes of testimony was given in a disembodied voice from behind a blank khaki-coloured screen.

Well goodness gracious me, the 45 minute claim was all about battlefield weapons and there was no threat to the UK, not even the bases in Cyprus. Now, I guess, we will be asked to believe that the highflyers preparing the dossier did not udnerstand the 'misinterpreation' that would be placed on their words.

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