Yesterday’s hearings

by Chris Ames

I didn’t catch much of yesterday’s hearings, the transcripts of which have been posted here on the Digest and here on the Inquiry website. I did see quite a bit of Carolyn Miller, who was director for Europe, Middle East and the Americas at the Department for International Development, between 2001 and 2004.

According to Miller, she was working quite freely and co-operatively across Whitehall in the year before the invasion:

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: You will be aware that several witnesses told us that they believe that your Secretary
of State restricted DFID staff engaging in planning in Iraq due to her disagreement with the government’s
SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Were you ever instructed by her to not engage in planning across Whitehall?
MS CAROLYN MILLER: No, no, I was never instructed not to engage across Whitehall. I did check before I joined groups, you know, I put in submissions saying, “I think it is important that we go to this group” and sometimes there were “but only to do this or whatever”, but I didn’t feel there was anything constrained. I think there was a general instruction at one point — and I don’t think it even came from the Secretary of State — that we couldn’t be talking to NGOs, but then that was lifted.
There were concerns that the Secretary of State had, but in terms of engagement across Whitehall, she would have been concerned to know what I was doing across Whitehall, but really, the fact that, you know, I was at one of the early ad hoc group on Iraq meetings and, you know, I was frequently talking to those other departments with her knowledge and reporting back on the general state of affairs I think actually no, there was no active, “No, you can’t engage across Whitehall”.
SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Of course, the ban on engaging on external planning with NGOs was a Cabinet Office ban.

It’s worth pointing out that Clare Short told the Inquiry that she didn’t disagree with the government’s overt policy of putting pressure on Iraq through the UN over its weapons of mass destruction.

One comment to this article

  1. John Bone

    on July 25, 2010 at 9:29 am -

    It is worth reading the whole transcript of the session with Ms Miller. On her first trip to the USA about Iraq she found out how vague the plans were for post-invasion. She also appears to be saying that DfID had not been told how much responsibility the UK was going to have post-invasion (which was why she was covering Iraq as part of a brief covering half the world and why they onlty had someone focuing on Iraq some months after the invasion).