Lord Butler, who led the Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction in the aftermath of the invasion, said there was no shortage of “very good” information available to help ministers evaluate the case for war in 2003.
But in remarks to a Foreign Office seminar, Lord Butler suggested that the former Prime Minister had intentionally kept the documents away from the majority of the Cabinet. “A lot of very good official papers were prepared,” he said. “None was ever circulated to the Cabinet, just as the Attorney General’s advice [on the legality of the war] was not circulated to the Cabinet.
“So, the Cabinet was not as well-informed as the three leading protagonists: the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary... I think that was deliberate, and it was a weakness of the machinery that underlay that particular decision.” read more>>>
13 November 2013 - The UK's top civil servant should no longer have responsibility for deciding which documents sought by the Iraq Inquiry should be declassified, a former foreign secretary has said.
Lord Owen said Sir Jeremy Heywood should not be the final "arbiter" because he worked closely with Tony Blair ahead of the 2003 invasion.
The Lord Chancellor should decide on behalf of the government, he added.
The inquiry, which began in 2009, has stalled over access to key material.
The inquiry had hoped to begin the task of writing to those likely to be criticised in its final report to give them the opportunity to respond - a prelude to possible publication in 2014 - but this process has been delayed. read more>>>
12 November 2013 - David Owen has demanded that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood be stripped of responsibility for deciding whether key documents can be published by the Iraq Inquiry.
The inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot complained last week that his probe has stalled indefinitely because Sir Jeremy is blocking the release of correspondence between Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and US President George W. Bush.
But Lord Owen, who was a Labour Foreign Secretary in the late 70s, said Sir Jeremy is not the right ‘arbiter’ of whether the papers are released since he also worked closely with Mr Blair in the run up to war.
In a letter to David Cameron yesterday, Lord Owen wrote: ‘Sir Jeremy Heywood was Principal Private Secretary to Tony Blair in No 10 from 1999-2003, the very time when the decisions to go to war were being taken. read more>>>