The defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, was present at a key meeting in which the policy of naming David Kelly - an issue at the heart of the Hutton inquiry - was approved, it was revealed yesterday.
The disclosure appears to contradict Mr Hoon's evidence to the inquiry in which he made no mention of the meeting and insisted he was not involved in any discussions about the outing strategy.
The meeting actually took place in Mr Hoon's office on July 9. He discussed with senior advisers what the Ministry of Defence should say if a journalist came up with Dr Kelly's name. The group decided that it was untenable to refuse to respond to journalists who had guessed Dr Kelly's identity.
In his evidence to the inquiry, Mr Hoon said he was "not party to discussions" about the outing strategy. He said he was "not aware" that Dr Kelly was "necessarily" concerned about his identity being kept secret.
Potentially more damaging in the light of yesterday's disclosure, Mr Hoon said he "did not see" and "played no part" in the preparation of the briefing strategy by which the MoD confirmed Dr Kelly's name to journalists. Nor did the defence secretary refer to the July 9 meeting in his office when asked at the end of his testimony to volunteer any information he thought relevant to the inquiry.
Yesterday's disclosures came in evidence from Richard Taylor, Mr Hoon's special adviser, who was called to the inquiry as a late witness. His testimony will have heightened the impression that Mr Hoon failed to give the inquiry a full account of his involvement in the Kelly affair.
It makes it virtually certain that Mr Hoon will be recalled to give a fuller account of his role when the inquiry enters its second phase on September 15.