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Ex-MI6 chief likely to give evidence to Chilcot inquiry behind closed doors

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Toby Helm and Jamie Doward
London Observer
Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Crucial evidence to the Iraq inquiry by Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 at the time of the 2003 invasion, is likely to be heard in private.

He presented to Tony Blair the intelligence, obtained from an agent known as “Curveball”, that Saddam Hussein had mobile production facilities for chemical weapons. Blair told the Chilcot inquiry on Friday: “This did have an impact on me at the time, although this particular piece of intelligence turned out later to be wrong.”

“Curveball” was an asset of the German intelligence service who was later discovered to be a fantasist. The UK was never allowed to question the spy personally. Dearlove’s evidence is likely to come after the general election. Whitehall sources have indicated that the format of Dearlove’s appearance is still being thrashed out between MI6 and the Chilcot team. “If he [Dearlove] believes he can give some of his evidence in public, he will be encouraged to do so, but clearly this may not be the case,” one source said.

The inquiry is thought to be struggling to establish which confidential documents presented to it can be declassified, making it difficult for its members to question key intelligence officials in public.

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This article was posted: Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 5:05 am

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