Sir David Manning GCMG CVO was the British Ambassador to the United States from 2003 to 2007, replacing Sir Christopher Meyer. He was allegedly the author of a memo to Tony Blair of 14 March 2002, noting that Manning had promised Blair’s support for regime change and of a confidential memo summarizing the details of a meeting between Blair and George W. Bush on 31 January 2003.
Questions for Sir David Manning
Here are some of the questions (under a number of general headings) that we believe the Inquiry should ask Sir David Manning.
We would welcome any further suggested questions, particularly if they come with an explanation of why they are relevant. If you would like suggest questions that go some way to refining the ones we already have here or which raise different issues, please use the comment box at the bottom of the page. (Or otherwise feel free to contact us directly if you prefer to remain anonymous.)
Your appointment to the Cabinet Office combined what had previously been two jobs – foreign affairs adviser to the PM and head of the Overseas and Defence Secretariat in the Cabinet Office. How did this balance in terms of workload and priorities?
Did you conclude in early 2002 that the US had resolved to go to war and that war was inevitable?
What was your advice to Tony Blair regarding US intentions?
Did you inform Condoleezza Rice in March 2002 that Tony Blair “would not budge” in his support for regime change and record this discussion in a memo that has subsequently been circulated?
Supporting the US desire for regime change
Whose idea was it to attempt to ‘wrongfoot’ Saddam Hussein?
Who commissioned the Iraq Options paper which was issued on or about 8 March 2002? Was it prepared by your staff? To whom was it circulated and when?
How would you summarise the paper’s main conclusions, recommendations and advice?
Is it fair to say that its advice – that the best option was for Britain to participate in any US military action should it prove necessary and on how to prepare for that eventuality – was largely accepted as a new government policy?
If not, what was the basis of this policy decision? When did this happen and who was involved in the decision? How was it reflected in policy instructions Sir Christopher Meyer has told us were given to him? And in the discussions you had with Rice and her NSC in Washington in April 2002?
To what extent was the FCO involved in the preparation of the Options paper (apart from the attached paper of legal advice)?
Sir Christopher Meyer has suggested that relations between the FCO and No 10 were strained during this period. How did you see it?
How much did the Cabinet know and when? Was the ‘inter-departmental advice to Minister’s’, the ‘Iraq Options’ paper dated 8 March 2002, prepared by officials and referred to in Chapter 5.4 of the Butler Report, provided in full or as a draft paper to any or all members of the Cabinet? Was it discussed in a full Cabinet meeting? Did Cabinet make a collective decision on which of the policy options to adopt before August 2002?
What discussion took place between Blair and George Bush on 31 January 2003 concerning the failure to find evidence of wmd in Iraq?
What assurances did Blair give Bush about UK participation in the planned invasion?
Do you believe that Blair had a moderating influence upon George Bush in any way?
Knowledge, assumptions and claims concerning Iraqi WMD
On 3 April 2002, Tony Blair told NBC in America that ‘we know that he [Saddam] has stockpiles of major amounts of chemical and biological weapons’. This was contrary to an assessment of his own Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which was issued less than three weeks before on 15 March 2002, and to the advice contained in the Iraq Options paper dated 8 March. What was the basis of the Prime Minister’s assertion? Was he subsequently advised by any official, you or perhaps the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, that such a statement was unsafe? If not, why not?
What was your understanding of the Iraq’s WMD capabilities in the period prior to the 2003 invasion?
Did you see or were you aware of any evidence which categorically stated that Iraq was in material breach of its disarmament obligations?
Pressure on Hans Blix etc to find Iraq in material breach
Were you aware of any political pressure being applied to senior staff members of UNMOVIC and the IAEA with the objective of finding Iraq in material breach of R.1441?
If so, what was this pressure, and which nations applied this pressure?
Pressure on other UNSC members
Were you aware of political pressure being applied to other members of the UN Security Council in the run-up to the 2003 invasion with the objective of gaining support for military action against Iraq?
If so, what was the nature of this pressure?
Were you aware of the claimed spying activities being undertaken against other members of the Security Council?