My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
In accordance with the Information Tribunal’s decision of 22 January 2008, I have today released what has been described as John Williams’ draft of the September 2002 Iraq weapons of mass destruction dossier.
The document produced by John Williams, then head of the FCO’s Press Office, was not commissioned as part of the formal drafting process and was not used as the basis for the dossier the Government subsequently published, which was produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee.
The document was originally withheld under Section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act on the important point of principle that for the effective conduct of public affairs the space which Ministers and officials have to consider and discuss ideas should be protected. Officials and others who draft policy documents should not feel constrained in presenting free and frank advice through fear that their ideas will be made public. This must continue to be an important principle for the effective conduct of government.
I have placed a copy of the document in the Library of the House. (A copy is also available on the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk.)