New Iraq riddle: Cook told fellow MP ‘he had damning evidence’ against Blair

New allegations have surfaced about how vital information on a ‘secret Iraq deal’ was apparently suppressed by the Blair Cabinet.

Several times during 2000 and 2001, Prime Minister Tony Blair referred to Robin Cook in private as ‘erratic’ and ‘a loose cannon’. The Prime Minister was in turn told persistently by the Bush White House they did not consider the Foreign Secretary ‘a team player’.
Blair demoted Cook from Foreign Secretary to Leader of the House in June 2001…to general amazement. This signalled the end of the much-vaunted ‘ethical foreign policy’.

On February 20th 2003, Robin Cook was given a personal briefing by John Scarlett, head of the British joint intelligence committee. Cook later wrote in his diary that Scarlett’s summary was ‘shorn of the political slant with which No. 10 encumbers any intelligence assessment’. After the Scarlett meeting, Cook decided that ‘Saddam probably does not have weapons of mass destruction in the sense of weapons that could be used against large-scale civilian targets’.

On 17th March 2003, Cook resigned in protest at the intention to attack Iraq. The invasion began three days later.
Exactly four months later in July 2003, senior civil servant David Kelly was found dead. He had been outed as the source of a BBC report casting doubt on the Government’s dossier about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
As to the ‘dodgy dossier’, Cook wrote later that ‘I was frankly astonished by the dossier, which bore no relation in tone to any of the intelligence assessments that I saw…’

The day after the July 2005 London bombings,Robin Cook wrote this in The Independent:
‘Bin Laden was a product of monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden’s organisation would turn its attention to the west…’
The Slog has learned that, a fortnight before his death, Robin Cook allegedly told a fellow MP he had been given “sickening evidence about Cabinet complicity in Dr Kelly’s death”. Cook added the comment that Blair had ‘sold his soul’ to the Americans in a secret Saudi deal. The deal included easy access to Saudi bases, future loyalty in the containment of Islamic terrorists, intelligence help in Afghanistan, and highly lucrative weapons contracts over the long term.
A senior Commons source has suggested to The Slogger that Gordon Brown ‘almost certainly’ knew of the secret pact, but ‘covered his tracks’.
Speculation as to whether Libdem leader Nick Clegg is aware of this remains rife.
AFTERMATH
BaE was saved from prosecution over allegations of bribing prominent figures in Saudi Arabia in 2006 when Prime Minister Tony Blair personally ordered the SFO to abandon the investigation. Rumours persist in Westminster that this is the ‘sleaze’ with which Gordon Brown threatened to ‘bring down’ Tony Blair (referred to in Peter Watt’s recent book Inside Out.)
In October 2009, BaE won a further order from the Saudis worth £1.6 billion. The three-year contract included training Saudi pilots and technicians in the United Kingdom.
Robin Cook collapsed and died on a Scottish mountain on 6th August 2005. He was with his wife but ‘another climber'(who has never been identified – and never come forward) phoned the emergency services, according to reports at the time, ‘because Mr & Mrs Cook had no mobile phone’. This is not true: Cook had texted his son from his mobile just twenty minutes beforehand.
An initial report from the A&E of the hospital where he was taken allegedly spoke of ‘head and neck injuries’. These were never confirmed, and the death certificate spoke only of ‘death due to coronary heart disease’.
For some weeks now, Nick Clegg has persistently guided Gordon Brown towards a session before the Chilcot Inquiry.
Lord Hutton (who conducted the 2004 Inquiry into David Kelly’s death) secretly gagged the evidence surrounding the case for seventy years, it emerged yesterday.
Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a senior FO lawyer who quit in protest at the invasion, will give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry this afternoon (Tuesday 26th Jan)

First on the witness stand (God willing) will be Sir Michael Wood. While this is a spectacle not to be missed, we urge Slog fans to pay close attention to Ms Wilmshurst’s testimony.