Alan Connor."> Paging Paul Hamill, John Pratt, Alison Blackshaw and Mustaza Khan
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Home > Politics

Paging Paul Hamill, John Pratt, Alison Blackshaw and Mustaza Khan

Alan Connor

29 June 2003

New Labour are obsessed with PR, we're told. So when did the focus groups say "what we'd like to see is a hatchet-faced bully boy running around cowing dissenters"? You know something's up when the Director Of Communications pegs it into the recording of Channel 4 News to shout at everyone:


I know that you, you also Jon, reported that the four people in my office were responsible for writing the so-called dodgy dossier when they were not.

Wrong again. Despite what Campbell - and indeed The Independent - would have you believe it was The Friday Thing which first named these four, revealed in the raw code of the MS Word document on February 7th. They are the authors of a dodgy dossier, called Iraq: its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation. They may not have written Iraq's weapons of mass destruction: the assessment of the British government, but there are at least two dossiers relating to Iraq dodgy enough to have been described as "the dodgy dossier".

We remain convinced that Iraq: its infrastructure... was written and revised by the people MS Word lists as having worked on it. Unless some civil servant nerks were hotdesking? If Paul, John, Alison or Mustaza want to explain what their names are doing there, we'll happily print a corrected update, of course. In slightly-more detail, this what we presume(d):

  • Paul Hamill Subsequently named by Sir Peter Jay as "head of story development", Paul's job was to do just that: to construct a narrative with a scary feel to justify an invasion. His job was not to ask questions of the experts whose work he used; it was to pick nuggets of information from their work in order to make up a story. We know full well that just because something is called a 'dossier', there's no reason to think that it aims at objectivity or truth, but we still don't know the prior reason the government had for the invasion. Paul then passed the document to--

  • John Pratt Identified by John Maples MP as a junior official from the Prime Minister's Strategic Communications Unit, we imagine John may have been the one changing some of the language from the source material: removing the words "country bumpkins" from a reference to Fedayeen Saddam to make them seem scarier, bumping up some numbers, that kind of thing. And then onto the big spin cheese:

  • Alison Blackshaw As Alastair Campbell's personal assistant, Alison's job presumably involved the original parts of the document. The section headed "Others Iraqis" [sic], for example, which explain how awful life is in Iraq (not pertinent to the "Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation" that the dossier purports to record, but good for being scary, again). She may have done this in a hurry (other mistakes include the sentence "If Iraq's do not want to participate"), or may not be very good at writing. And finally, on to--

  • Mustaza Khan He's the news editor of the 10 Downing Street website, and also one of Campbell's crack team. Mustaza's job, we imagine, was to post it up on the website, after the Sunday papers it was originally sent to laughed at it, and after Colin Powell recommended it, forcing Downing Street to reposition it as a publicly-available "report" which (empirically) justified the invasion and bombardment, rather than a piece of PR which (rhetorically) justified it. Oops.

The fantasy about 45-minutes-WMDs, meanwhile could, we suppose, have come from another office, from any of them, or from Campbell himself.

Another question for any of you when you're clearing your names of involvement in these lies which led to so many deaths, Iraqi and British and more: the MS Word code tells us that you use floppy disks to save. For God's sake, why? Were you avoiding using an internal network for "security" or something?

ps: some other questions once you're done with these.

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