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PETER HITCHENS: My secret meeting with mole at the heart of The Great Poison Gas Scandal

PETER HITCHENS: My secret meeting with mole at the heart of The Great Poison Gas Scandal

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I stood outside the safe house, in a road I cannot name, in a major European city I cannot identify, not sure what I might find inside. I had no way of being sure. 

I had travelled a long distance by train to an address I had been given over an encrypted email.

I was nervous that the meeting might be some sort of trap. Leaks from inside arms verification organisations are very sensitive matters. Powerful people mind about them. 

I wasn’t sure whether to be afraid of being followed, or to be worried about who might be waiting behind the anonymous door on a dark afternoon, far from home. I took all the amateurish precautions that I could think of.

As it happened, it was not a trap. Now, on carefully selected neutral ground, I was to meet a person who would confirm suspicions that had been growing in my mind over several years – that there is something rotten in the way that chemical weapons inspections are being conducted and reported. And that the world could be hurried into war on the basis of such inspections.

Inside the safe house, I was greeted by a serious, patient expert, a non-political scientist whose priority had until now always been to do the hard, gritty work of verification – travelling to the scenes of alleged horrors, sifting and searching for hard evidence of what had really happened. But this entirely honourable occupation had slowly turned sour. 

The whiff of political interference had begun as a faint unpleasant smell in the air and grown until it was an intolerable stench. Formerly easy-going superiors had turned into tricky bureaucrats. 

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