Sir Richard Dearlove, 68 provided intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD
Had previously said he would keep his account of events leading up to Iraq War secret until after his death
Revelations: in a bombshell email to the MoS Sir Richard Dearlove threatened to reveal new details behind the ‘dodgy dossier’ scandal
A former head of MI6 has threatened to reveal explosive new details behind the ‘dodgy dossier’ scandal if he objects to the long-awaited findings of the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s role in the Iraq War.
Sir Richard Dearlove, 68, who provided intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) that was apparently ‘sexed up’ by Tony Blair’s Government, has spent the last year writing a detailed account of events leading up to the war.
He had intended to keep his work under lock and key and made available only to historians after his death.
But now Sir Richard has revealed to The Mail on Sunday that he could go public after the Chilcot Inquiry publishes its findings.
Sir Richard is expected to face censure from the inquiry’s chairman, Sir John Chilcot, over the accuracy of intelligence provided by MI6 agents inside Iraq – which was used in the so-called ‘dodgy dossier’.
In a bombshell email to the Mail on Sunday, Sir Richard, who is Master at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, disclosed: ‘What I have written (am writing) is a record of events surrounding the invasion of Iraq from my then professional perspective.
‘My intention is that this should be a resource available to scholars, but after my decease (may be sooner depending on what Chilcot publishes). I have no intention, however, of violating my vows of official secrecy by publishing any memoir.’
Sources close to Sir Richard say that while he accepts that some of MI6’s information on the WMDs was inaccurate, he insists that Chilcot should recognise the role played by Tony Blair and the Prime Minister’s chief spokesman Alastair Campbell in informing media reports which suggested Saddam could use chemical weapons to target British troops based in Cyprus – a claim which put Britain on a path to war in Iraq.
Mr Blair and Mr Campbell have repeatedly denied making misleading statements about WMD.
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But Sir Richard is said to remain extremely aggrieved that this piece of intelligence, which his agents stressed only referred to battlefield munitions which had a much shorter range, led to media reports that UK bases were under threat.
Last week it was revealed that Sir John had written to Prime Minister David Cameron informing him of his intention to write personally to those individuals he intends to criticise, with reports suggesting that Tony Blair is among those on Sir John’s list.
Sir Richard has taken a sabbatical from his duties at Cambridge University to research and write his record of events.
With his account nearing completion, he is expected to resume his Master’s role at the start of the new academic year.
A security source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is Sir Richard’s time-bomb. He wants to set the record straight and defend the integrity of MI6.
‘And Sir Richard has taken a lot of personal criticism over MI6’s performance and his supposedly too-cosy relationship with Mr Blair.
In flames: British soldiers under attack in the Iraqi town of Basra in 2004
‘No Chief of MI6 has done anything like this before, but the events in question were unprecedented.
‘If Chilcot doesn’t put the record straight, Sir Richard will strike back.’
After graduating from Cambridge, Sir Richard began his MI6 career in 1966 and was posted to Nairobi, Prague, Paris and Geneva before becoming head of station in Washington DC in 1991.
He returned to the UK two years later and became director of operations in 1994. He was appointed Chief, or ‘C’, in 1999.
In his first year, the IRA fired a rocket at the agency’s headquarters on the South Bank of the River Thames. This was followed in September 2001 by Al Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States.
The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee subsequently accused MI6 of failing to respond with sufficient urgency to warnings that Islamic fundamentalists were planning such a major terrorist attack.
But last night the committee’s chairman, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was appointed in 2010, offered Sir Richard his support.
Sir Malcolm told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I have never heard of a former MI6 chief putting something out there in these terms but I would be interested in what Sir Richard has to say in response to the Chilcot Inquiry which is clearly going to have some meat in it.
‘I know Sir Richard and worked with him in the Foreign Office many years ago. He is a very able man of the highest character and a man of his own opinions. We shall have to wait to see what he says.’
Sir Richard, who was elected Master at Pembroke just weeks after leaving MI6, lives in an idyllic £1.2 million property in the college’s grounds.
Last night, Alastair Campbell and the office for Tony Blair declined to comment on Sir Richard’s account.
By Mark Nicol Defence Correspondent
PUBLISHED: 01:05 GMT, 21 July 2013 | UPDATED: 13:50 GMT, 21 July 2013
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