Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Death of David Kelly - Operation Rockingham

One little-mentioned aspect of David Kelly's duties relates to a UK (possibly secret) intelligence operation called "Operation Rockingham".

The purpose of this post is simply to flag up what is in the public domain from the Parliamentary realm with a view to examination of other aspects of Operation Rockingham in future posts.

The publicly available information is extremely sparse.

David Kelly mentions his Operation Rockingham activities here in his evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee on 16th July 2003:

ANN TAYLOR: Can I ask, at the beginning you mentioned that you do see certain
intelligence reports but you haven't been very specific about that, can you give us some
idea of what you see by way of JIC papers, what you see from DIS, you mentioned that
you did see some intelligence reporting could you give us a fuller picture please, of what
they might be?

DR KELLY: Certainly. I see all the intelligence reporting concerned with both Iraq
and ***; with regard to chemical and biological weapons, that arrives in the Proliferation and Arms Control Secretariat and I have full access to that. Within the Defence
Intelligence Services I liaise with the Rockingham cell which used to service UNMOVIC
and UNSCOM and now will service the Iraq Survey Group and I don't go through all the
information that they have but, almost on a weekly basis I'll sit down with the principal
officer there and he will alert me to anything that he thinks is of relevance to my work. I
also liaise with SIS, they call me in if they want to discuss any raw intelligence with me
or if they want any assistance in interpreting intelligence . I see them every two months
or so

Normally, the preceding information would not have been available in the public domain.

Remarkably little has ever been disclosed to the UK Parliament about Operation Rockingham.

Operation Rockingham may have started as UNSCOM inspections in Iraq, see the following testimony to the Defence Select Committee here:

1546. I know the experience. I gave evidence to a Committee yesterday and I was constantly being passed notes by the clerk. I did not read one of them, I might tell you!
(Brigadier Holmes) I am grateful for the sleight of hand on the part of the person behind me! Small numbers, mainly specialists, serving Operation Warden, which is deterrent forces covering Northern Iraq; Operation Jural, which is the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq; and occasionally Operation Rockingham, which is UNSCOM inspections in Iraq itself. So it is mainly specialists and the chap who caught my eye is an officer on UNSCOM inspections in Iraq.

On 12th January 2004 the following written answer about Operation Rockingham was given:

Operation Rockingham

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the role and function is of the unit set up under Operation Rockingham; what its cost was in the last financial year; and if he will make a statement. [146708]

Mr. Ingram: Operation Rockingham was established in 1991 to provide support to UNSCOM inspections in Iraq. It has subsequently also supported UNMOVIC

12 Jan 2004 : Column 538W

inspections and currently supports the work of the Iraq Survey Group. In the last financial year (2002–03), the cost of the team was £78,723.53.

In 2006 there is the following written answer about Operation Rockingham:

Operation Rockingham

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the present functions are of Operation Rockingham; how many staff are employed on it; and if he will make a statement. [69799]

15 May 2006 : Column 664W

Des Browne: The Operation Rockingham cell is working on residual issues relating to Iraqi WMD and analysing the lessons learned from the Iraq survey group deployment. It consists of three people (two part-time and one full-time).

There is virtually no information relating to what Operation Rockingham was working on in the crucial period leading up to the pretext for the Iraq War propagandised by Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell in 2002/2003.

Note, above, that David Kelly says the following in the (expected to be) private hearing at the Intelligence and Security Committee:

I see all the intelligence reporting concerned with both Iraq
and ***; with regard to chemical and biological weapons, that arrives in the Proliferation and Arms Control Secretariat and I have full access to that.

But wasn't his public position that he didn't know about or hadn't seen the intelligence behind the 45 minute claim in the September 2002 dossier?

Which makes me wonder about the veracity of his evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 15th July 2003.


  1. Operation Rockingham Revealed: the Secret Cabal which spun for Blair. Neil Mackay, Sunday Herald (Scotland) 8 June 2003.
    There was an interesting exchange of letters in the Guardian here on(29 Nov 2003) in response to the 'codswallop' letter of of 22 Nov between Morrison who set up Rockingham, and Scott Ritter.

    On 29 July 2004,Richard Norton Taylor reported that Morrison had been sacked by Blair as adviser (c.f.Kelly) to the parliamentary intelligence and security committee on the advice of David Omand in the wake of comments he made to the Butler Report.

  2. Felix,

    It's interesting that Scott Ritter suggested a parliamentary inquiry into Operation Rockingham, with evidence taken under oath. But no such inquiry was ever undertaken.

    Yet another aspect of the Iraq War fiasco that hasn't been investigated using evidence taken under oath.

    One might almost think that the Blair junta had something to hide!

  3. Rockingham gets another airing in the Scottish Sunday Herald 22 October 2006, cached here,article by Neil Mackay: Senior MoD official claims Iran duped UK intelligence

    "Garry Hindle, head of terrorism and international homeland security and resilience at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for Defence and Security Studies, said he had been aware of claims that the INC was feeding disinformation to the US as part of an Iranian intelligence operation for “a couple of years”.

    The senior MoD official seems not to be named.

    So it was all Iran's fault. I see. But an old story

    Chalabi Aides Suspected of Spying for Iran
    Raid at Leader's Home Targeted His Associates

    By Scott Wilson
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, May 22, 2004