Sir David Manning

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.)

Manning’s role

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?

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2 comments to this article

  1. Lee Roberts

    on November 30, 2009 at 5:58 am -

    1. Do you have any evidence that either Mr Blair or Mr Bush were eager for the UN inspectors to complete their task, regardless of whether they found WMDs or not ? Do you have any evidence to the contrary ?

    2. What proposals were discussed at the meeting between Mr Blair and Mr Bush to provoke Saddam Hussein to take actions that could be interpreted as grounds for a defensive attack by the US and UK ?

    3. Did you regard those proposals as legal ?

    4. Did those proposals alarm you in any way ? Did you express that alarm to Mr Blair ? What did you say ?

    5. What do those proposals suggest to you about the determination of Mr Bush to invade, and Mr Blair to support that invasion ?

  2. John Bone

    on November 30, 2009 at 10:13 am -

    If a policy decision was taken for Britain to participate in any US military action almost a year before it happened, who took this decision? Was it the Prime Minister, was it the Cabinet, was it some other body? It appears not to have been Parliament that took this decision? Do you (Manning) consider it correct for such a decision to be taken without Parliament’s knowledge?

    Was the policy decision for participation without preconditions or were there preconditions? Did military planning allow for a situation where the US took military action but the UK did not because conditions had not been met?

    Was parliamentary support a precondition? What would have happened if the UK parliament had not voted to support US military action in March 2003?

    Was a UN resolution a precondition? Was the policy conditional on certain actions by Iraq? Was it conditional on satisfactory levels of military planning and planning for the post-invasion phase? What mechanisms were put in place to monitor these conditions and to decide whether preconditions had been met?

    What was the rationale for a policy decision for Britain to participate in any US military action almost a year before it happened? What are the main assumptions being made here? Are these assumptions in the public domain? Are the part of written agreements (eg between the USA and the UK) or are they part of unwritten assumptions on which UK foreign policy is based? Do you consider that the British public are aware of, or agree with, these asumptions?

    What do you consider would have been the public reaction if such a policy decision had been announced in March or April 2002?

    Members of the public who wrote to the PM, the FCO or their MP in mid-2002 asking what policy decisions had been made received replies about Iraq’s possession of 20 proscribed missiles and various unauthorised weapons. Do you consider that these replies were misleading?

    Previous witnesses have mentioned that it would have been disasterous if the US had taken military action alone. Can you explain the why this is? Why would it have been more disasterous than what happened, which was that military action took place without the support of more than two-thirds of the Security Council?

    Previous witnesses have mentioned that there would have been serious consequences for the UK if it had not supported the USA? Could you explain what these might be? Some members of the public see this is meaning that the UK is at risk of being dragged into ill-prepared military actions of doubtful legitimacy: what is your opinion on that?