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Captain Scarlett

by | 7th, May 2004

‘IF it wasn’t for US army specialist Joseph Darby, who is the man who released those pictures of the soldiers abusing Iraqis, we might never have learnt what passes for justice in parts of American-controlled Iraq.

Cluedo: Was it Mr Scarlett on the sofa with the dossier?

Whether or not the abuse is the tip of an iceberg or not, we might never know. Governments like to hang onto their secrets – however dark, however shameful.

But at least we in Britain now know who keeps ours. He’s called John Scarlett, and, as the Guardian says in its lead story, he’s just been appointed as the new head of MI6.

And if you or Tony Blair ask nicely, he might just tell you anything you want to know.

This, after all, is the official held responsible for that Iraq weapons dossier, the dodgy one where we were all 45 minutes from annihilation.

It’s pretty clear that what Scarlett tells you might not be right or true, but he will tell you something, and that has to be an improvement on silence.

For this reason, it’s little surprise that the relatively high-profile Scarlett got the job ahead of the other candidates.

As the Times says, it’s more normal for the deputy of the service to replace the retiring head, but even though the deputy applied for the post he was overlooked in favour of Scarlett.

Clearly this departure from usual practice has nothing to do with Scarlett’s dossier, nor his place, as the Guardian puts it, as “part of the sofa culture that makes policy not at the cabinet table but in the prime minister’s den”.

This the man who Lord Hutton, who chaired that investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly, concluded may have been “subconsciously influenced” by the Government’s eagerness to make a strong case for war.

But this is all rumour, and the new “C” is simply the best man for the job.

As no more impartial figure than Tony Blair says on the Guardian’s cover, Mr Scarlett is a “fine public servant”.

“I think it is unfortunate if it [Scarlett’s appointment] gets embroiled in party politics, or people try to make political capital out of it.”

Unfortunate? That’s a rather anodyne word, especially when we are 45 minutes from being wiped out.’



Posted: 7th, May 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink