The Information Tribunal has ordered the Foreign Office to release an early report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to a researcher working with the New Statesman.
The document was produced in late 2002 by John Williams, the FCO’s Head of News at the time. It has been been suggested that the document it served as a draft of the so-called “dodgy dossier” and contains the first instance of the infamous “45 minute claim”. Williams, however, denies this. Dr David Kelly was found dead after being named as the source of Andrew Gilligan’s BBC report suggesting that the final version of the same dossier had been “sexed up” by Downing Street.
Researcher Chris Ames had requested the document from the FCO in February 2005, shortly after the Freedom of Information Act came into force. Then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw vetoed the request, citing the section 36 (“would inhibit free and frank discussion”) exemption, but the Information Commissioner subsequently ruled in favour of disclosure to Ames.
This decision which was upheld by the Tribunal yesterday.
The FCO has said it is studying the Tribunal’s decision. It is not yet clear whether the document will be released or whether it will appeal to the High Court.