Five years on from Hutton and we STILL haven't been told the truth about the war based on lies
Last updated at 10:25 AM on 29th January 2009
Crucial verdict: Lord Hutton
ruled five years ago that Tony Blair was guiltless
in the death of Dr David Kelly
Yesterday marked a sombre and important anniversary.
A full five years have passed since the Hutton Report
sensationally acquitted Tony Blair and his senior
advisers of any wrongdoing in the death of Dr David
Lord Hutton ruled both that Tony Blair was guiltless
in the death of the government scientist and that
Downing Street had not
'sexed up' the case for the Iraq War.
This was the crucial verdict that breathed fresh life
into the Blair premiership, enabling him to fight and
win the 2005 General Election.
It was the ultimate vindication for Tony Blair's
communications chief Alastair Campbell, who called a
special press conference to declare that 'the Prime
Minister told the truth, the Government told the truth,
and I told the truth. The BBC from the chairman and
Director-General down did not'.
That day, BBC chairman Gavin Davies and
Director-General Greg Dyke resigned - and the BBC was
plunged into the greatest crisis in its history.
In the five years that have passed since then,
however, almost every single one of Lord Hutton's
conclusions have collapsed.
It can now be shown that, far from telling the truth
as he claimed, Alastair Campbell repeatedly lied to the
House of Commons over the Iraq war.
Even more remarkable, it emerged that the British
Government had been warned before the invasion of 2003
that Saddam Hussein did
not have weapons of mass destruction - and
therefore that the Blair administration knowingly
embarked on the war on the basis of a lie.
In fact, Lord Hutton failed even in his most basic of
tasks, which was to fulfil his remit to examine 'the
circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly'.
Only a tiny proportion of his 700-page report was
devoted to examining the weapons expert's cause of
death - and even these can be shown at best to be
complacent and sloppily researched, and the conclusions
Lord Hutton ruled that David Kelly's death in lonely
woodland near his Oxfordshire home was due to two
principal reasons. He said that the first was 'bleeding
from incised wounds to the left wrist, which Dr Kelly
inflicted upon himself with the knife found beside the
The second, so the judge ruled, was 'ingestion of an excess amount of copraxamol tablets.' In fact, many medical experts believe that it is almost inconceivable that Dr Kelly died in this way.
Normally, when someone dies from slashing their
wrists, a massive amount of blood is found at the scene
of the death. Yet there was hardly any blood around Dr
Kelly's body, either on his body or on the surrounding
bushes and grass.
Furthermore, the pathologists who carried out the
postmortem reported that only one artery had been
severed in Dr Kelly's wrist - and that cutting it
would not normally lead to a life-threatening loss of
According to Dr David Halpin, former senior
orthopaedic and trauma surgeon at Torbay Hospital, a cut
to this artery could never have caused death.
He told the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who
conducted his own investigation into Dr Kelly's death,
that 'a transacted artery, one that has been completely
cut, retracts immediately, and thus stops bleeding'.
More suspicious still was Lord Hutton's easy
acceptance of the claim that Dr Kelly had killed himself
by taking tablets.
In fact, medical tests showed that the dead man's
stomach contained only the equivalent of one-fifth of a
tablet in his stomach.
It is also interesting that the half-litre bottle of
Evian water found beside Dr Kelly's body had not been
fully drunk - highly unlikely if he really had taken
29 tablets to kill himself, as Lord Hutton accepted.
Yet Hutton took none of these suspicious factors into
account with his bland account of Dr Kelly's death.
Dr Kelly may, of course, have died in the way Lord
Hutton suggested - but it was deeply unprofessional of
him simply to brush aside so many suspicious factors
that might have led to a different conclusion.
The second major problem with the Hutton Report
concerns the extremely respectful hearing he gave to
Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell and other Downing Street
Lord Hutton himself said that 'the evidence of the Prime Minister and the senior officials was strong and consistent with the surrounding circumstances'.
Acquitted of wrongdoing:
Yet it can now be seen that there were huge problems
with the evidence given by Tony Blair and others. In
particular, it has since emerged that one of the key
witnesses, Alastair Campbell, was an outright liar -
and that this can be proved by evidence presented to the
Hutton Inquiry itself.
Campbell lied repeatedly when he appeared before the
House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, when MPs
investigated the failure of Allied forces to find
Weapons of Mass Destruction in the aftermath of the
invasion of Iraq.
These lies included Campbell's entirely false
assertion to MPs that he had never apologised to
intelligence chiefs after the publication of his
so-called 'dodgy' dossier on WMD of February 2003.
In fact, he later admitted in a private hearing of
the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee that he
had made just
such an apology.
But Campbell's most serious lie came when he told MPs
that the infamous statement that Saddam Hussein was
capable of launching a WMD attack within 45 minutes had
never changed in the drafting process.
Campbell himself, in fact, had asked for the wording
to be changed - as evidence to the Hutton Inquiry
showed - so he was being quite exceptionally dishonest
when he told the Foreign Affairs Committee that it had
remained the same.
Lord Hutton apparently chose to ignore this clear
evidence of dishonesty when reaching his conclusions.
The final and most shattering evidence that Lord
Hutton's acquittal of the British Government in his
report was hopelessly misguided has emerged only very
In the final weeks before the invasion of Iraq, a
senior MI6 officer called Michael Shipster met the head
of Iraqi intelligence at a secret meeting in Jordan.
The Iraqi intelligence chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush, gave Shipster assurances that Iraq possessed no nuclear, chemical, biological or any other weapons of mass destruction.
Michael Shipster at once brought this information
back to London. Tony Blair was informed, and Richard
Dearlove, then head of MI6, was so impressed by it that
he flew to Washington to brief George Tenet, the head of
the CIA, who in turn briefed George W. Bush.
Lord Hutton failed in fulfilling
his remit to examine 'the circumstances surrounding the
death of David Kelly', pictured
This information, based on interviews with key
players including Dearlove, was published late last year
in a book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron
Suskind, called The Way Of The World.
It caused a storm in the United States, but its
conclusions have largely been ignored in the British
The implications of this book are immense. Tony Blair
told Parliament and the British people that Britain went
to war to rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass
destruction - yet he seems to have been told in
advance by the Iraqi intelligence chief that these WMD
did not exist. The war - in short - was based on a
As every day passes, Lord Hutton's judgment that Tony
Blair and his leading officials were men of integrity
looks more and more flawed. Five years on, his verdict
has fallen to pieces. Britain now urgently needs a
full-scale inquiry into the causes and prosecution of
the Iraq War.
The first step should be the publication -
strenuously resisted by the Government - of minutes
from two key Cabinet meetings in the build-up to war.
This week, an Information Tribunal ruled that the
documents must be made available, on the basis of
exceptional public interest. That has infuriated
ministers, who are now expected to appeal to the High
Court to have the ruling overturned.
Far from resolving the many flaws in Hutton's report with full and frank disclosure about the facts surrounding Dr David Kelly's death, it is all too obvious why the Brown government is determined to keep them concealed for as long as possible.