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Today Programme Monday July 26 2004 7.22 am

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/

A senior intelligence expert who criticised the Prime Minister in a television interview has been told that his services are no longer required as an investigator for the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee.  John Morrison took part in the BBC Panorama Programme two weeks ago.  He claimed then that intelligence officials had reacted in disbelief to Tony Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed "a serious and current threat to the United Kingdom".  Mr Morrison's actual words were: "When I heard him using those words I could almost hear the collective raspberry going up around Whitehall"
  Well, Air-Marshall Sir John Walker is a former  Chief of Defence Intelligence and former Deputy Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committtee.  John Morrison was one of his colleagues.
 
TP: Sir John Walker, what do you make of this development?
 
JW: I think it is a very serious one.  John Morrison is an extremely experienced and extremely good intelligence operative.  He was, I think, the senior Civil Service Civil Servant in the Intelligence Staff when I was CDI and I had the highest regard and respect for him.  And he has broken ranks, I think, together with people like Dr Brian Jones, and indeed we must always remember David Kelly, because of a considerable concern about what was going on.  And when people like John Morrison and David Kelly and Brian Jones break ranks then that is a very serious thing and something not only the government but the people of this country need to take note of.
 
TP:  Well, let's just look at his role, working  for the Intelligence and the Security Committee.  The Cabinet Office say he "hasn't been sacked".  That he'd worked for the Committee for over five years.  His contract is ending in October 2004.  The Committee quotes "while continuing its current work has no plans to employ a new investigator"  so is it that this time with the Committee has naturally come to an end?
 
JW: I would very much doubt it.  Particularly with what has gone on in terms of the whole dossier effect, the politicisation of the JIC, the decapitation of the BBC and the way this whole matter has been handled - I think to ask people to believe that this is just a normal end of contract would be beyond belief.
 
TP:  Do you think John Morrison would regret in any way what he said openly?  As you said, breaking ranks as Brian Jones has?
 
JW: Well, I hope not, because we have an interesting situation have we not in this great 400 year old democracy of ours.  We have the situation where we have gone to war, the most serious thing a government can do to a nation is to take it to war, and we have gone to war on a false prospectus.  And it is now increasingly obvious that it was not only a false prospectus but a false prospectus that people knew was false before the event and the Nolan..er the Butler Report was part of the fallout from that.  But if these people of John Morrison's calibre, David Kelly, Brian Jones' calibre - if these people break ranks it is very serious.  These are people who for a lifetime have been loyal hard-working servants of the State , well used to not breaking ranks. and now they have so it is a very serious thing.
 
TP: So what do you suspect is behind his departure from the Intelligence and Security Committee because there are still further inquiries to be done by that committee following Butler, also the Foreign Affairs Committee.
 
JW:  Well, I would imagine that it was felt in shadowy offices of Number Ten that the Panorama programme was an embarrassment and they get rid of people who embarrass them.
 
TP:  Are you saying this was pressure from Downing Street in your view?
 
JW:  Well, I'd be most surprised if it wasn't.
 
TP:  Air Marshall, Sir John Walker, thank you very much