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Freedom of Information Act (John Williams' Document)

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written statement – made on 18th February 2008.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Foreign Secretary

In accordance with the Information Tribunal's decision of 22 January 2008, I have today released what has been described as John Williams' draft of the September 2002 Iraq weapons of mass destruction dossier.

The document produced by John Williams, then head of the FCO's press office, was not commissioned as part of the formal drafting process and was not used as the basis for the dossier the Government subsequently published, which was produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee.

The document was originally withheld under section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act on the important point of principle that for the effective conduct of public affairs the space which Ministers and officials have to consider and discuss ideas should be protected. Officials and others who draft policy documents should not feel constrained in presenting free and frank advice through fear that their ideas will be made public. This must continue to be an important principle for the effective conduct of government.

I have placed a copy of the document in the Library of the House. Copies are also available on the FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk

Annotations

Francis Irving
Posted on 19 Feb 2008 4:52 pm (Report this annotation)

The PDF file of the document in question is here: http://www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/wmd_jul_2002.pdf

Francis Irving
Posted on 19 Feb 2008 4:54 pm (Report this annotation)

And the final published draft of the same document is here: http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page271.asp

Francis Irving
Posted on 19 Feb 2008 4:58 pm (Report this annotation)

This is the ruling in the information tribunal
http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/Documents/decisions/fc...

Francis Irving
Posted on 19 Feb 2008 5:05 pm (Report this annotation)

And the original decision notice from the Information Commisioner http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/decisionnotices/2007/...

Julian Todd
Posted on 21 Feb 2008 4:29 pm (Report this annotation)

The Information Tribunal decision is the one to read, as it contradicts the Foreign Secretary when he claimed that this "was not used as the basis for the dossier the Government subsequently published". See pages 4 to 9 for the detailed history of this document:
http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/Documents/decisions/fc...

Also relevant is the following article in the Guardian alleging that one hand-written word, "Israel?", was masked out from the first paragraph.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/21/israelandthepale...