The events leading to the Butler report

Chronology of events leading up to the publication on Wednesday of a British inquiry into the use of intelligence about Iraqi's alleged weapons of mass destruction before the war:

    Lord Butler of Brockwell headed the British inquiry

    2002 

     

    April 10: Prime Minister Tony Blair tells parliament

    there is "no doubt at all that the development of weapons of mass

    destruction by Saddam Hussein poses a severe threat, not just to the

    region but to the wider world".

     

    September 24: Blair presents parliament with a dossier

    on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction that states Iraq could

    deploy chemical or biological weapons in just 45 minutes.

    This claim is splashed across newspaper front pages.

     

    2003:

     

    March 20: US and British forces invade Iraq after failing to

    obtain a final clear United Nations mandate to do so. Saddam

    Hussein's regime collapses in a matter of days. No weapons of mass

    destruction (WMDs) are used.

     

    March 25: Blair counsels patience on the search for WMDs,

    saying: "There is absolutely no doubt at all that these weapons of

    mass destruction exist."

     

    May 29: BBC radio airs a report quoting an unidentified

    senior official as saying Blair's office ordered that the September

    dossier be "sexed up", notably to add in the 45-minute claim.

     

    June 6: The government complains about the report and seeks

    to find out who was responsible for the BBC's allegation. Government

    weapons scientist David Kelly is later named as the source.

     

    July 17: Kelly kills himself days after facing a tough

    grilling from a committee of lawmakers. Blair immediately orders a

    judicial inquiry.

     

    August 1: Lord Brian Hutton opens his inquiry. It begins

    taking evidence on August 11 and continues until October 13.

     

    2004:

      

    January 28: Hutton finds the government was not responsible

    for Kelly's death and denounces the BBC report as unfounded". Blair

    hails this as a clear vindication. The BBC's chairman and director

    general subsequently resign.

      

    Later that day David Kay, the former head of the US-British Iraq

    Survey Group, which has led the hunt for WMDs since the war, calls

    for an analysis of US intelligence, admitting: "We were all wrong,

    probably".

     

    February 2: US President George W. Bush says he will launch an

    independent investigation into intelligence on Iraq's alleged

    weapons.

     

    February 3: Blair announces that Britain will hold its own

    inquiry, telling lawmakers that "we have a look at the intelligence

    that we received and whether it was accurate or not". The inquiry is

    to be headed by Lord Robin Butler, a veteran former head of the

    civil service.

     

    July 9: A Senate investigation reports that the US intelligence

    community "mischaracterised" information about Iraq's weapons before

    the war, but says Bush's administration did not pressure CIA

    analysts.

     

    July 10: Four days before the Butler inquiry reports, a former

    head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee says Blair must

    assume responsibility for any British intelligence mistakes. 

    "The buck stops there," Dame Pauline Neville-Jones says.

     

    July 13: Blair receives advanced copy of the Butler report and

    immediately defends the decision to go to war in Iraq, denying he

    had been fed "duff" intelligence.

     

    July 14: Butler delivers his report. 

    SOURCE: AFP


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