Britain and the US knew well before the 2003 US led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime that the Iraqi leader had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the BBC's Panorama has reported.
"Much of the key intelligence used by Downing Street and the White House was based on fabrication, wishful thinking and lies," the BBC said.
Iraq's foreign minister Naji Sabri was in touch with Bill Murray, CIA station chief in Paris via an Arab journalist, the news organization said. The two men met in New York in September 2002.
Saddam Hussein "had some chemical weapons left over from the early 90s, [and] had taken the stocks and given them to various tribes that were loyal to him. [He] had intentions to have weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological and nuclear - but at that point in time he virtually had nothing," the BBC reports Murray as saying.
A senior officer of Britain's MI6 also met with Iraq's head of intelligence, Tahir Jalil Habbush Al-Tikriti in Jordan two months before the war and also said the Iraqi leader had no active WMDs, the BBC reported.
"I thought we'd produced probably the best intelligence that anybody produced in the pre-war period, all of which came out - in the long run - to be accurate. The information was discarded and not used," the BBC cites Murray as saying.
The lies of two Iraqi spies served as the basis for the argument that the Iraqi regime had an active WMD programme.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, also known by his codename Curveball, who arrived in germany seeking asylum, gave fabricated information that served as a core part of the intelligence that was used to justify the war against Iraq, the BBC reported. Janabi said he had seen mobile biological laboratories, the authenticity of which German intelligence doubted. The other spy Iraqi former intelligence officer, called Maj Muhammad Harith met with the Americans and said he came up with the idea of mobile biological labs.
The Panorama documentary: The Spies Who Fooled the World, will air on BBC One, March 18 at 22:35 GMT and will be available in the UK on BBC iPlayer.