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spy reports 'given pro-war spin'

  1. By Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent
    17 February 2003


    Briefings by the intelligence services have been manipulated by ministers to make a firmer case for war against Iraq, a senior politician says today.

    Britain's secret services are concerned that their reports have been used "selectively" by the Government to help make a political case for war, Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman, says in an interview with The Independent.

    Members of the intelligence community have been unhappy to see "checks and balances" in their reports removed by the time they reach the public, he says.

    "There's no doubt that the intelligence services have been concerned about what they see as the misuse of information – in the sense that they believe the Government is inclined to use what supports the Government's political case without taking full account of the qualifications attached to such information," Mr Campbell says.

    The accusation that ministers have failed to include warnings that evidence of chemical or biological material may not be clear-cut will reignite allegations of "spin".

    The Government was roundly criticised after it emerged that a dossier of evidence about Saddam Hussein's capabilities was gleaned from a PhD student's thesis.

    Mr Campbell says: "The security services are unhappy at the way some of their products are being used. It's certainly the case that they feel there has been selective use of material."

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