London: A false information supplied by an
Iraqi taxi driver that Saddam Hussein could fire chemical
weapons within 45 minutes may have led to the invasion of the
Gulf country in 2003, a senior British MP has claimed.
According to Conservative MP Adam Holloway, who has
contacts in the intelligence community, the "dodgy dossier"
used to justify the Iraq invasion was partly based on a gossip
overheard by an Iraqi driver with no intelligence credentials.
Holloway said that the report's central claim that
Saddam could fire chemical weapons within 45 minutes was
supported by the discredited information given by the driver.
"The driver falsely claimed to have heard two Iraqi
commanders discussing a secret long-range missile programme in
the back of his taxi two years before the invasion," Holloway,
who himself has carried out a probe into the affair, wrote in
his report -- The Failure of British Political and Military
Leadership in Iraq -- The Telegraph reported.
The allegations were then passed on to MI6 by a senior
Iraqi military official who was working as a secret agent for
the British and the officers who looked into the missile
claims found the taxi driver's information "demonstrably
untrue" and made it clear in the footnote of a report
presented to Downing Street, he claimed.
"It appears that their skepticism was ignored, as the
claim was included in the briefing document on Iraq's weapons
programmes released by then press secretary Alistair Campbell
in an attempt to build support for Iraq invasion," he said.
It is now known that Iraq did not have any stocks of
chemical or biological weapons ready for deployment in 2003.
First Published: Tuesday, December 08, 2009, 18:13