Sir John Scarlett was chairman of the joint intelligence committee (JIC) from 2001-2004 and was then chief of MI6 until 2009. As JIC chief, he was responsible for providing impartial advice to ministers on intelligence issues. He was present at the Downing Street meeting of 23 July 2002.
Following the Downing Street meeting, Scarlett was put “in charge” of the September 2002 dossier on “Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction”.
Scarlett previously gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, on the morning and afternoon of 26 August 2003 and on the morning and afternoon of 23 September
Questions for John Scarlett
Here are some of the questions (under a number of general headings) that we believe the Inquiry should ask Tony Blair. If a question appears as a link, it will take you to an explanation of the question or some information about its context.
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 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.)
When did you first become aware that Tony Blair had committed the UK to take part in any US-led invasion of Iraq?
Public statements on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction
Did Tony Blair’s claim on 3 April 2003 that Saddam Hussein had “stockpiles of major amounts of chemical and biological weapons” reflect the JIC assessment of the previous month?
Did you regard this statement as representing a significant driver of Blair’s policy on Iraq?
Did you advise Blair that his statement did not represent the JIC assessment?
Did you meet Alastair Campbell on 23 April 2002 ““to go through what we needed to do communications wise to set the scene for Iraq”.
The September 2002 dossier
Sir David Omand, the Security and Intelligence Coordinator at the time, suggested that in August/September 2002, ‘the search was intensified quickly for any relevant intelligence, and that was sweeping up material that was not of first quality’ and that ‘the 45-minute warning should never have appeared [in the dossier]’. Do you dispute this assessment?
Given Sir Richard Dearlove’s comments that in the US the facts and intelligence were being fixed around the policy of regime change, why did you think it appropriate to ensure that the UK dossier’s would match those of the US and fly to the US to discuss the dossier?
In which document did the claims that appeared as judgements in the 10 September dossier first appear?
Was John Williams draft dossier entirely put aside – or were elements of it used for the draft of 10 September?
Why do elements of the 10 September draft dossier follow – and even include – the drafting instructions set out in John Williams’ draft?
Which attendees at the 9 September dossier drafting group suggested that the 45 minutes claim should be included in the dossier, leading to its inclusion in the 10 September draft?
Which attendees at the 9 September dossier drafting group saw the 45 minutes claim for the first time at that meeting?
Given that up to four “communications officials” were present at the drafting group meeting, can you be sure that one of them did not suggest or request the inclusion of the claim?
What was the “considerable help” that John Williams provided with your draft dossier of 10 September?
Why did you accept changes to the dossier from Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell after the deadline for JIC comments had passed?
Do the minutes of the JIC meeting of 11 September support your claim that the committee had asked that the dossier should include an assertion that Iraq was making progress with its wmd programmes, in spite of sanctions?