False Claim ?

Some journalists have admitted they were guided by the Government in highlighting the false claim that Saddam Hussein could have deployed chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes, writes David Rose.

But Lord Butler, above, in his report to Tony Blair, said that this had happened after the publication of the dossier from the Joint Intelligence Committee.

And he revealed that all the editors who replied to his query as to whether they had been briefed about the controversial dossier told him they had not been guided prior to publication.

Lord Butler wrote to some 60 editors of national and regional print and broadcast media. He said: “There was some evidence from the replies that some journalists had had their attention drawn after its publication to passages in the PM’s foreword.

“Some editors noted that the ’45 minutes’ attracted attention because it was of itself an eyecatching item.”

Blair said he was not aware until after the war that the 45-minute claim should have been interpreted as referring to battlefield weapons. Butler said the Committee should not have included the 45-minute report without stating what it referred to.

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