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Superiors critical of Kelly

Official upset over contents of Iraqi dossier

LONDON — Ministry of Defense scientist David Kelly probably knew that his superiors were unhappy with wording in an intelligence dossier, a Defense official told the Hutton inquiry probing the events surrounding Kelly’s suicide.

“Two individuals expressed concern about specific language in the dossier to their line managers,” Martin Howard, now deputy chairman of the MoD’s defense intelligence service, told the inquiry Monday. “Their views were taken into account before the joint intelligence committee met to discuss the dossier.”

This is the first time a government official has gone on record to reveal disquiet over the contents of the dossier, which claimed that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.

It also corroborates BBC defense correspondent Andrew Gilligan’s report on Radio 4’s “Today” program, which accused the government of hyping intelligence reports to justify war in Iraq.

Kelly, a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, helped to prepare the first Iraq dossier and was involved in a discussion of a late draft of the dossier on Sept. 19. He was frequently consulted because he was a leading expert in his field.

Howard denied, however, that the government knew that the “45 minute” claim was wrong before the dossier was published. He said that governmental communications chief Alastair Campbell had not “sexed up” the dossier, as Gilligan claimed in an article in newspaper the Mail on Sunday.

The inquiry also heard that the Foreign Office and MoD are divided about Kelly’s handling of the media.

While Patrick Lamb, deputy head of the nonproliferation department within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, praised Kelly’s expertise and encouraged journalists to speak with him, MoD head of personnel Richard Hatfield said that Kelly had strayed beyond providing technical information by disclosing or commenting on classified information and discussing “politically controversial issues.”