Butler Committee Report for download


Photograph of the Committee
From left to right; Right Honourable Sir John Chilcot GCB, Right Honourable Ann Taylor MP, Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO (Chair), Right Honourable Michael Mates MP, Lord Inge KG GCB DL


Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction



Terms of Reference

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announced the establishment of the Review in a statement to the House of Commons on 3 February. The Terms of Reference are as follows:

“To investigate the intelligence coverage available on WMD programmes of countries of concern and on the global trade in WMD, taking into account what is now known about these programmes.

As part of this work, to investigate the accuracy of intelligence on Iraqi WMD up to March 2003, and to examine any discrepancies between the intelligence gathered, evaluated and used by the Government before the conflict, and between that intelligence and what has been discovered by the Iraq Survey Group since the end of the conflict.

To make recommendations to the Prime Minister for the future on the gathering, evaluation and use of intelligence on WMD, in the light of the difficulties of operating in countries of concern.”

The Committee’s Report will be presented to the Prime Minister. The Review will be conducted by the Rt Hon the Lord Butler and four other Privy Counsellors: the Rt Hon Sir John Chilcot, the Rt Hon the Lord Inge, the Rt Hon Michael Mates MP and the Rt Hon Ann Taylor MP.

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The Prime Minister has asked the Committee to report before the summer Parliamentary Recess. The Review Committee plans to work to the following timetable:

  • 12 February: public invitation to those with information relevant to the Review to make it known to the Committee in writing; launch of the Review web-site;
  • February-March: Call for documents from relevant Whitehall departments and the intelligence agencies. Initial analysis of written material, primarily from the Joint Intelligence Committee and the UK intelligence agencies. This analysis will address WMD activities in a range of countries; the global trade in WMD including the role of those involved in WMD proliferation; and terrorist WMD-related plans and activities. Notify individuals whom the Review Committee will invite to give oral evidence and the areas on which the Committee will wish to question them.
  • 31 March: closing date for receipt of information in response to the 12 February invitation;
  • April-May: taking of oral evidence; more detailed analysis of written material on selected aspects of each element of the Review’s investigation;
  • June-July: possible re-interviewing of certain witnesses; conclusion of the investigative phase of the Review’s work; writing report;
  • Mid-July: Report presented.

This timetable is very tight and these timings may need to be adjusted in light of what emerges from the material, both written and oral, that the Committee considers.

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The Government has stated that it will co-operate fully with the Review. The Committee hopes that others will do so too. Those invited to give oral evidence will be given the opportunity to make written presentations to the Committee before they give evidence in person. They will be questioned by the members of the Committee, not by legal Counsel. The Committee does not at this stage envisage that lawyers will represent witnesses at the hearings.

The Committee hopes to present an unclassified report incorporating as much as possible of the evidence that it receives. In the interests of not conveying a limited, partial or distorted public impression of the evidence, the Committee has decided that the Review will be carried out in private. The Committee does not intend to make public information about the progress and direction of its investigations, or the identity or evidence of any witness, before it reports.

The Review will be wholly independent. The Committee’s aims are: to establish facts; to examine the effectiveness of structures, systems and processes; and, where failures or weaknesses are identified, to recommend ways of rectifying them. In the event that the Committee considers that any individual is liable to potential criticism, that individual will be informed and given the opportunity to respond before the Committee reports. In such circumstances the Committee will consider again the case for the provision of legal representation.

The Review Committee will consult the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction set up by President Bush under the joint chairmanship of former Senator Charles Robb and Judge Laurence H Silberman. The Committee also intends to keep in touch with the Iraq Survey Group.


The Committee invites information and views relevant to its investigation. It has identified an initial list of individuals and organisations from whom it will wish to seek written and oral evidence. These include Government ministers and senior officials involved in gathering, evaluating and using intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and others with experience and expertise in these areas, including internationally.

The Committee will be willing to consider requests for the protection of the identity of individual witnesses whether on national security or other grounds.

Contacting the Review

Information and observations may be sent to the Review at: secretary@butlerreview.org.uk.


The Secretary
Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction
70 Whitehall

The Review web-site is at www.butlerreview.org.uk.

See also the Cabinet Secretary's letter on disciplinary immunity