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Iraq 'sex-up' denied

LONDON: Tony Blair's former chief spin doctor Alastair Campbell fiercely denied yesterday "sexing up" a dossier which claimed Iraq could launch chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes ahead of the 2003 war.

In a defiant appearance before a public inquiry on the conflict, Campbell said that while the highly controversial document could have been "clearer", he still defended "every single word" of it - and the invasion itself.

"I think Britain as a country should feel incredibly proud of the role it played in taking on one of the most brutal, barbarous regimes in history," said Campbell, one of the former prime minister's closest allies.

The first big name to appear before the Chilcot inquiry, he appeared days before Blair gives evidence later this month.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown - who Campbell said was one of the "key ministers" Blair consulted in the run-up to war - will appear after this year's general election, expected in May.

Campbell again insisted he had never tried to "beef up" anything written by the dossier's author, John Scarlett, then chairman of a high-level committee advising the government on intelligence.

"At no point did anybody from the prime minister down say to anybody within the intelligence services: 'You have got to tailor it to fit this judgment or that judgment,'" Campbell said.



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