The Hutton Report: A dead weapons scientist and an exhaustive inquiry

Counsel for the inquiry outlined 15 areas to be examined in detail. Here, The Independent reviews those issues, together with possible verdicts

By Paul Waugh Deputy Political Editor

More than six months after David Kelly left his home in rural Oxfordshire never to return, the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death is due to report next week.

The weapons scientist, 59, had apparently taken his own life days after giving evidence to MPs last July about a BBC report that Downing Street had ordered the "sexing up" of a government dossier on the Iraqi threat.

The broadcast, by Andrew Gilligan, defence correspondent for Radio 4's Today programme, quoted an intelligence source stating that a "classic" example of such interference was the insertion of a claim that Saddam Hussein could launch chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes. After weeks in which the controversy became a battle of wills between ministers and the BBC, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a statement that an official had admitted meeting Mr Gilligan.

Press officers from the MoD confirmed that Dr Kelly was the official in question. Within a week he appeared before a televised Commons select committee. Four days later, he was found dead near his home.

Lord Hutton, a former lord chief justice for Northern Ireland, was given power by Tony Blair to call evidence from any sources he chose. He sat through 24 days of testimony and cross-examination and read thousands of documents.

The hearings shone alight onto the highly secretive world of Britain's intelligence services, the workings of Whitehall and the private thoughts, e-mails and diaries of the politicians and civil servants at the top of the Government.

Part-inquest, part-judicial inquiry, the process focused not just on the death of one of the world's eminent weapons experts but also on the crucial question of whether the Prime Minister took the country to war on a false prospectus.

Although he had no formal powers of summons, no one dared turn down a request from Lord Hutton and a string high-profile figures were among the 75 witnesses who gave evidence. The Prime Minister, Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, and Alastair Campbell, then director of communications at Downing Street were subjected to cross-examination. John Scarlett, the former spy in charge of the dossier, emerged from the shadows and Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 known as "C", spoke over the phone. Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff, also made a rare public appearance.

Yet some of the most important testimony came from a man few had previously heard of in Whitehall, let alone the wider world. Brian Jones, the retired head of the MoD's intelligence wing in charge of WMD, gave electrifying evidence that showed that he and colleagues had serious concerns over the dossier used by Mr Blair to prove the case against Saddam

During the hearings, James Dingemans QC, counsel for the inquiry, outlined 15 areas which he said had to be examined in detail. Here, The Independent reviews those issues, together with the possible verdict on each.

1. How was the dossier of 24 September 2002 prepared and who was responsible for drafting it?

Evidence: The inquiry heard that the dossier owed its existence largely to a phone conversation Mr Blair had with George Bush in late August while both were on holiday. Mr Blair announced on 3 September 2002 that he would publish a dossier so that he could share the Government's intelligence on the threat posed by Saddam. The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) was put in charge. MI6, MI5, GCHQ and Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) all commented on four different drafts before publication. The inquiry heard several times from government witnesses that Mr Scarlett, the chairman of the JIC, was given "ownership" of the dossier by Mr Blair.

Possible Verdict: Most of the facts of the drafting by JIC staff seem straightforward. It is the extent and nature of the suggestions from No 10 that raise possible controversy.

2. What part did Dr Kelly play in the preparation of the dossier?

Evidence: Dr Kelly wrote most of the section on the history of UN weapons inspections in Iraq and parts of sections on Iraq's weapons programmes, with emphasis on its biological programmes.

DIS later trusted Dr Kelly with raw intelligence and private views because he was a leading expert in his field and had security clearance at the highest level.

Possible Verdict: This issue is not a matter of dispute. But Dr Kelly certainly was not "in charge" of drafting the dossier as Mr Gilligan claimed.

3. What knowledge did Dr Kelly have of the contents of the dossier and of earlier drafts of the dossier?

Evidence: Dr Kelly first saw a full copy of the dossier on 19 September at a meeting of DIS staff, well into the drafting process. It appears that he had not seen all the earlier drafts but was undoubtedly told about them by his friends in the DIS.

Possible Verdict: Dr Kelly knew that at least two experts expressed their unease about the wording of the 45-minute claim and Iraq's alleged chemical weapons capability. There is no evidence that he knew that Dr Jones, the DIS expert on WMD, had written formally to complain about the dossier, but he might have learnt that.

4. Were the Prime Minister, Mr Campbell and other officials in No 10 responsible for intelligence being set out in the dossier which was incorrect or misleading or to which improper emphasis was given?

Evidence: There was no evidence that Mr Blair was responsible for any inaccuracies, but Mr Campbell and Mr Powell certainly were involved in making suggestions about the drafts. Mr Campbell suggested a stronger wording on the 45-minute claim. An e-mail sent by Mr Powell to Mr Scarlett on 19 September 2002 recommended redrafting a paragraph that had implied Saddam would use his weapons only defensively. The paragraph was dropped.

Sir Richard agreed that "with hindsight" the 45-minute claim was given undue prominence. Mr Scarlett also admitted that the claim related only to short-range, battlefield weapons and not strategic missiles, as implied in the dossier.

The inquiry heard that some MoD advisers felt that the dossier had been "over-egged" or had "a lot of spin on it."

Possible Verdict: The dossier was misleading in parts. However, the errors stem from loose language or failure to set out sufficient caveats. There is no evidence that Mr Blair, Mr Campbell or Mr Powell attempted wilfully to deceive.

Although it is disingenuous of Mr Campbell to claim that his suggestions were not "requests", Mr Scarlett was at all times in charge and could reject or accept them as he saw fit. The issue was whether Mr Scarlett had, under pressure from No 10, crossed the line between presenting evidence and making a case for war.

That line appeared to have been crossed when Mr Powell said Mr Scarlett "should redraft the paragraph" that suggested Saddam would use WMD only if attacked. Mr Powell may have shown that he knew some of the alternative intelligence better than Mr Scarlett, but his intervention proved how thin the walls between the JIC and No 10 really were. Some changes suggested by Mr Campbell and Mr Powell sought only to make the document consistent. For example, Mr Blair wanted to include intelligence about Iraq being able to acquire a nuclear weapon within one or two years and the dossier was changed accordingly. Downing Street clearly wanted to make the dossier as strong as possible, but there was nothing wrong with that as long as it was within the bounds of real intelligence. Dr Jones said that while he was worried about the dossier, claims that the misleading sections were ordered by Downing Street were "not much more than gossip".

5. What was said by Dr Kelly to Mr Gilligan on 22 May 2003?

6. Did Mr Gilligan accurately report what was said by Dr Kelly in his broadcast on 29 May and in his 'Mail on Sunday' article on 1 June?

7. Were the matters reported by Mr Gilligan during his radio broadcast and in his 'Mail on Sunday' article true?

Evidence: Dr Kelly told his superiors at the MoD, and MPs, that he didn't recognise himself as the main source for Mr Gilligan's broadcast.

On the issue of whether he referred to Mr Campbell by name, Olivia Bosch, a fellow weapons expert, said Dr Kelly had told her before the broadcast how Mr Gilligan had played a "name game", and said Mr Campbell's name first.

The evidence of computer experts about Mr Gilligan's palm pilot is unclear, but his explanations about changes to its contents were unconvincing. It appears that Dr Kelly never said the dossier had been "transformed" by No 10.

In Mr Gilligan's favour, Dr Kelly did refer to Mr Campbell in a phone conversation with Susan Watts from the BBC programme Newsnight a fortnight earlier on 7 May. Ms Watts' tape of a later phone call showed that Dr Kelly believed the "No 10 press office" was involved. He admitted to MPs that he may have used the word "sexier". A BBC reporter, Gavin Hewitt, gave evidence that Dr Kelly told him that "No 10 spin had come into play".

Possible Verdict: Ms Bosch's evidence is the most compelling because it refers to Dr Kelly's remarks made before the broadcast. It appears that on balance it was Mr Gilligan who said the word Campbell first. It is also clear that Dr Kelly could by no stretch of the definition be accurately described as an "intelligence services source". The 45-minute claim was definitely not included in the dossier at Mr Campbell's "behest".

As for the substance of the broadcast, there was obviously "unease" among some DIS staff about the dossier that went beyond the "customary debate" alleged by Mr Scarlett.

Dr Jones had only once before taken the step of formally complaining about a JIC document. He and his chemical weapons chief felt the 45-minute claim as stated was not "reliable" because it was single sourced, second hand and failed to make clear it referred to battlefield munitions not long-range missiles.

8. What was the response and complaints made by the Government to the BBC relating to the broadcast?

9. What was the BBC reaction to those complaints?

Evidence: Mr Campbell's diaries offered the choicest evidence on this, showing that he wanted to "fuck Gilligan", desired "a win, not a messy draw" and hoped he had "opened a flank on BBC" with his evidence to MPs. Richard Sambrook, the BBC director of news, Gavyn Davies, the BBC chairman, and Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, stuck to their guns, rejecting charges of anti-war bias. In doing so, they defended the whole of the Gilligan broadcast, including the early "two-way" that Mr Gilligan now accepts was wrong. A BBC memo admitting Mr Gilligan's reporting was "flawed' was not passed to Mr Davies or Mr Dyke.

Possible Verdict: Mr Sambrook should shoulder some of the blame for giving clues about the Gilligan source at a lunch with The Times. This led directly to the article on 5 July that prompted the MoD and Downing Street to pursue Dr Kelly. Mr Gilligan's notes should have been examined by senior staff. The BBC's claim that it was reporting an allegation is not acceptable as it has a duty to report claims only if it believes there is sufficient evidence.

The BBC governors should have been much stronger in demanding an internal investigation. No 10 could have dropped the matter on 7 July when the Foreign Affairs Select Committee made clear that Mr Campbell had not inserted the 45-minute claim.

10. What were the steps taken by the Ministry of Defence and the Government after Dr Kelly informed his MoD line manager that he had spoken to Mr Gilligan on 22 May?

Evidence: Dr Kelly was interviewed twice by Richard Hatfield, the MoD's personnel director. After the second interview, Martin Howard, deputy chief of defence intelligence, Sir Kevin Tebbit, permanent secretary at the MoD and Mr Scarlett agreed that Dr Kelly looked like Mr Gilligan's main source. On the issue of whether he approved the naming strategy, Mr Blair said: "As I say, I did not see the MoD Q&A, but I think the basic view would have been not to, as it were, offer the name but on the other hand not to mislead people."

Possible Verdict: There is no evidence to suggest the two sessions were unduly stressful for Dr Kelly despite the threat of a "security style interview" from Mr Scarlett.

11. What were the circumstances in which the MoD released a press statement on 8 July and the question and answer material used in support of it? Was Dr Kelly told about this process and did he agree to it?

Evidence: Mr Blair chaired a "running meeting" in his office on 8 July that in effect approved the idea of a press statement.

Mr Blair's role in the Q&A, which gave clues to Dr Kelly's identity, is much less clear. Contrary to reports, Sir Kevin's remarks about a "change of stance" triggered by the Downing Street meeting are not conclusive. But when asked if "a decision to issue the Q&A material" was taken at the meeting, Sir Kevin did reply "Yes".

On the other hand, Mr Blair said in evidence that he was not aware of the existence of the Q&A on 8 July. Pam Teare, director of news at the MoD, and Mr Howard hatched the plan to confirm Dr Kelly's name, but Sir Kevin approved it. Mr Hoon chaired a meeting that also appears to have given final approval for the confirmation strategy. Contrary to evidence from his widow, Dr Kelly appears to have agreed to the press statement. But he never agreed to the confirmation strategy.

Possible Verdict: Mr Hoon was highly misleading when he told an interviewer that the MoD had sought at all times to protect Dr Kelly's anonymity.

It would have been much better if the MoD had issued a clear statement naming Dr Kelly as the official who had met Mr Gilligan, but only after giving the scientist at least 24 hours warning of such an approach. Mr Hatfield failed to explain adequately why he didn't follow Sir Kevin's advice to ask Dr Kelly's permission to be named. Although the MoD press statement was acceptable, the "Q&A" approach was reprehensible.

Ms Teare, Mr Howard, Sir Kevin and Mr Hoon should recognise that this was a breach of their duty of care. It was done with the intention of protecting other MoD staff but a plain "no comment", the usual course, would have been preferable. It is difficult to state that there was a deliberate strategy to "out" Dr Kelly but it appears that his needs came second to the Government's desire to prove the BBC wrong. Mr Blair approved only the statement, not the Q&A.

It is also not the case that Dr Kelly's rights as an employee were breached when his name was confirmed by the MoD

12. Was there an attempt in government dealings with the media to play down Dr Kelly's importance as a civil servant and his role in the production of the dossier which did not reflect the reality and was designed to assist in the dispute with the BBC?

Evidence: Dr Kelly was described as a "middle ranking official", which was technically true according to his civil service grade but failed to reflect his expertise as the leading authority on UN weapons inspections in Iraq and biological weapons, and the fact that he regularly briefed DIS and met MI6.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman, Tom Kelly, has not fully explained what he meant when he described Dr Kelly as a "Walter Mitty" figure. Sir Kevin Tebbit described him as "eccentric".

Possible Verdict: Strictly speaking, the civil service grading justifies the junior status accorded Dr Kelly.

There is no evidence of a plot to smear him but it was obvious that Whitehall viewed him as a nuisance once he had come forward.

13. What were the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly giving evidence to the foreign affairs committee and the intelligence and security committee and the hearings before those committees?

Evidence: An e-mail shows that some civil servants felt Dr Kelly was "not handling the pressure well". Although Mr Howard suggested that the remark was made by Bryan Wells, Dr Kelly's line manager, Mr Wells denied it. Dr Kelly was thrownnot by Andrew Mackinlay's much misunderstood "chaff" reference but by the MP David Chidgey's questions about whether he had contact with Ms Watts of the BBC.

Possible Verdict: Mr Gilligan's decision to reveal to Mr Chidgey that Dr Kelly was Ms Watt's source was indefensible and put him under more pressure than anything else.

14. How Dr Kelly died, and is it clear that Dr Kelly died by his own hand?

Evidence: He was found on Harrowdown Hill with his left wrist slashed by a penknife. He took his wife's painkillers an hour earlier. Forensic psychologists suggest he took his life.

Possible Verdict: The tentative cutting marks on his wrist, the careful removal of his watch and cap, the use of painkillers, the absence of any sign of third parties or struggle all point overwhelmingly to the fact he took his own life. Suicide.

15. If Dr Kelly died by his own hand, what were the matters which were likely to have led him to take his own life?

Evidence: The increasing number of phone calls from his MoD superiors about his answers to parliamentary questions about his contacts with Ms Watts came at lunchtime on the day he died.

Possible Verdict: The knowledge that he misled MPs about his contact with Ms Watts may have tipped him over the edge. He was worried about his pension and whether he would be allowed to continue his work in Iraq, even though there is no evidence either was threatened. But no one in his family, the Government or the BBC could have foreseen his death and should not feel responsible for it.


Prime Minister

Referring to the Iraq dossier, Mr Blair told the Commons on 4 June: "The allegation that the 45-minute claim provoked disquiet among the intelligence community, which disagreed with its inclusion in the dossier ... is also completely and totally untrue." But Dr Brian Jones was concerned about the inclusion of the claim.

Four days after he set up the Hutton inquiry, Mr Blair was asked why he decided to "authorise the naming of David Kelly". He replied: "That is completely untrue." He said he chaired the meeting on 8 July that authorised an MoD press statement about an official meeting Andrew Gilligan, but denied being aware of the existence of the Q&A supporting the statement or discussing it.

Former Director of Communications and Strategy

On the dossier, Mr Campbell chaired a meeting on 5 September. He asked John Scarlett for 15 changes. The draft said Iraq "may be able" to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes". Mr Campbell complained the phrasing was weak and it was changed to "are able to deploy".

He also told Mr Scarlett he was worried about the dossier's failure to spell out the shortest time it would take Saddam Hussein to produce a nuclear weapon. The dossier was changed to say it could happen within one to two years.

Mr Campbell's diaries also show that he wanted Dr Kelly's name made public. "The biggest thing needed was the source out."

Defence correspondent, 'Today'

Mr Gilligan admitted to making mistakes in his earlier, 6.07am Today programme broadcast, conceding that Dr Kelly had not said that the Government had inserted the 45-minute claim against the wishes of the intelligence community.

But Mr Gilligan stood by the thrust of his report and stressed that he had been proved right subsequently by much of the evidence heard at the Hutton inquiry. He defended his claim that Dr Kelly had alleged that the dossier "was transformed in the week before it was published, to make it sexier". However, Mr Gilligan apologised for sending MPs an e-mail which named David Kelly as a source for his fellow BBC journalist Susan Watts.


Secretary of State for Defence

Mr Hoon denied a claim in Mr Campbell's diary that he was interested in a "plea bargain" for Dr Kelly, presumably a deal to ease off disciplinary action if he came forward to attack Mr Gilligan. Mr Campbell's diary shows that Mr Hoon was one of the people in government who most wanted to produce a press statement. "GH, like me, wanted to get it out that someone had broken cover."

When asked before Lord Hutton if he knew of the Q & A material, Mr Hoon said: "Can I make it clear that I did not see either of these documents." But Richard Taylor, his adviser, said one of the questions was discussed with Mr Hoonon 9 July. Mr Hoon overruled Sir Kevin Tebbit's advice that Dr Kelly should not appear before the Foreign Affairs Committee.

BRIAN JONES, former Assistant Director of Intelligence (Nuclear, Chemical and Biological) Science and Technical in the Defence Intelligence Staff

Dr Jones wrote formally to complain about the September dossier's lack of caveats and misuse of language to express some of its claims about Iraq's alleged 45-minute capability and continued production of chemical weapons.

He said the source of the 45-minute claim did not appear to "know very much about it" and may have been "trying to influence and not inform" the British officials. He said his chief chemical expert had worried that someone had decided to "over-egg" the dossier. The worries were expressed at a meeting on 19 September attended by Dr Kelly, but did not affect the final draft.

Personnel director at MoD

After interviewing Dr Kelly for a second time, Mr Hatfield issued a memo to Sir Kevin Tebbit, the MoD's permanent secretary. In it he revealed how he had left the matter with the scientist. "I said that I did not think that it would be necessary to reveal his name." When Dr Kelly's name was finally confirmed by the MoD to journalists, Mr Hatfield told his wife, Janice, that he felt "let down and betrayed".

Mr Hatfield accepted that he did not follow an instruction from Sir Kevin that he should assess "Kelly's readiness to be associated with a public statement that names him".

Mr Hatfield read the press release to Dr Kelly on the night of 8 July and claims the scientist accepted it with "calm resignation".

Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee

Mr Scarlett insisted during his evidence that he had "ownership" of the Iraq dossier until the point when it was handed over to Downing Street for printing.

Mr Scarlett initially said he was "not at all aware of any unhappiness" within the MoD's Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) about the dossier. "At no stage was any unease reported," he had said. But in his second session of evidence, Mr Scarlett admitted he had been told of worries about claims that Saddam Hussein was continuing to produce chemical and biological agents.

Mr Scarlett admitted that his deputy, Julian Miller, had told him about the DIS comments. But he said "concerns" did not equate to "unhappiness".

Permanent Secretary at MoD

Much attention has focused on Sir Kevin's evidence. He said that a "change of stance" in the Government's actions on Dr Kelly was "as a result of a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister. The decision was taken at the meeting in No 10, with which the MoD concurred. But this may have referred to the decision to approve a press statement, not the crucial naming strategy of press officers. The key quote was when he was asked by James Dingemans QC whether there had been "a decision to issue the Q & A material" at the 8 July Downing Street meeting chaired by Mr Blair. Sir Kevin replied: "Yes." Sir Kevin admitted he had described Dr Kelly as "weird and rather eccentric" just 24 hours before the scientist's apparent suicide.