However, the MoD
told staff not to tell anyone that they have been forewarned:
but that instruction has been forced out under the freedom of information
In a notorious exchange at a select committee hearing in 2003 that has been re-played repeatedly on television, Andrew MacKinlay put it to Kelly, who was an MoD employee, that he was “chaff”.
Kelly had just been identified, with help from gov-ernment public-relations officers, as the source of Andrew Gilligan’s controversial report for BBC Radio 4’s Today suggesting that the British government lied about “weapons of mass destruction” during the build-up to the war on Iraq.
An eight-page document, containing “notes for guidance” for MoD employees called to give evidence to the committee, has been revealed that is bound to infuriate MPs. It was released by the MoD under FOIA.
In a section headed, “Likely questions”, the document states: “About 48 hours before an oral evidence session, the clerk will normally provide the [defence select committee] liaison officer with an informal steer of the likely areas of questioning. This will usually consist of a simple list of headings.”
It adds: “It is important to remember that no indic-ation should be given by witnesses on the day that we have been given this steer.”
Another version of this article first appeared in Private Eye.
FOIA Centre commentary
The MoD had hoped that this arrangement with the house of commons defence select committee would remain secret, even telling military services staff and civil servants not to tell anyone about the pre-evidence sessions briefings. However, FOIA has successfully forced this out into the open.
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MoD audits its press relations after Hutton