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In 1992, Mark Higson, the Foreign Office official responsible for Iraq, appeared before the Scott inquiry into the scandal of arms sold illegally to Saddam Hussein. He described a “culture of lying” at the heart of British foreign policymaking. I asked him how frequently ministers and officials lied to parliament.
“It’s systemic,” he said. “The draft letters I wrote for various ministers were saying that nothing had changed, the embargo on the sale of arms to Iraq was the same.”
“Was that true?” I asked.
“No, it wasn’t true.”
“And your superiors knew it wasn’t true?”
“So how much truth did the public get?”
“The public got as much truth as we could squeeze out, given that we told downright lies.”