16 July 2004
John Scarlett, the government's controversial choice to head MI6, faced fresh calls for his promotion to be blocked following this week's publication of the Butler report.
Backbench MPs who had earlier tabled an early-day motion 'deploring' his promotion, vowed to keep up the pressure on the would-be spy chief, despite Lord Butler insisting in his report that Scarlett, the current head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, should not resign.
Alice Mahon, a Left-wing Labour MP who signed the motion, was surprised at Butler's recommendation.
'He [Butler] has gone out of the way to say that this man [Scarlett] should not be sacked. I find that extraordinary. The buck has to stop somewhere,' Mahon told Public Finance.
She vowed to keep the pressure up on the floor of the House of Commons to make sure Scarlett could not take up his new position, which he is due to on August 1.
Mahon insisted that more MPs would sign up to the motion. She said that many were angered that only three 'anti-war MPs' were called to contribute to the debate in the House of Commons immediately following publication of the Butler report on July 14.
Other signatories to the motion include another Labour Left-winger, Jeremy Corbyn, and Plaid Cymru's Adam Price.
Butler's report into the intelligence surrounding the decision to commit troops against Saddam Hussein's regime concluded that information about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction was 'seriously flawed' and 'open to doubt'.
It criticised the JIC for including the controversial 45-minute claim in the September 2002 dossier on Iraq's WMD without stating exactly what it referred to.
However, Butler said Scarlett should still take up his new position. The former Cabinet secretary said that neither the intelligence services nor Tony Blair's government were guilty of 'deliberate distortion or culpable negligence'.
The prime minister said he accepted the findings and took 'full responsibility' for any mistakes made on the part of the government.