2 October 2003

MI6 flaws exposed by former diplomat

[Sir Peter] goes on: 'It would make a huge difference in assessing the value of a report from say 'a source close to the president', to know whether that source is the vice-president, or a household servant, or someone with whom the president lunches occasionally.'

This attack is aimed directly at Sir Richard and Mr Scarlett, who assured No 10 that their second-hand source for the claim that Iraqi forces could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes was 'an established and reliable line of reporting'. The threat was then hardened up under political pressure from Downing Street.

GCHQ, which provides electronic intercepts, is dismissed by Sir Peter as rarely useful. He monitored foreign wars from London and found it impossible to distinguish the flood of inaccurate or misleading intercepts from accurate ones.

The intelligence agencies offered to monitor secret talks he was having with one foreign delegation, he says, when they reported back to their own capital. But the only intercept they produced after weeks of expense was a single paragraph of a draft agreement, which turned out to have been originally drafted by Sir Peter himself.

I hope the wife of Sir Peter does not same the same fate as She Who Must Not Be Named. More seriously the intel collection for Iraq seems to have suffered all those faults and then been seen by credulous political leaders desperate for a reason to invade Iraq.

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