Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

BBC Iraq reporter admits errors

Zen-like Todd

Recommended Posts


BBC Iraq reporter admits errors

LONDON, England --A BBC correspondent has admitted to errors in the way he reported claims that the UK government exaggerated its evidence about Iraq's alleged WMD to strengthen its case for war.

Andrew Gilligan was giving evidence on Wednesday to the Hutton Inquiry which is examining the apparent suicide of government scientist David Kelly after he was exposed as a possible source of the controversial report.

In his May 29 broadcast, Gilligan said an official in charge of drawing up a September 2002 dossier on Iraqi weapons alleged that Prime Minister Tony Blair's office inserted a claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes' notice, when it knew the information was probably wrong.

But when asked on Wednesday if he was saying the government was dishonest Gilligan said: "I think the allegation here that I was trying to convey was that the claim in the form ... it was made was considered to be wrong, was considered to be unreliable and was considered to be misinterpreted in the intelligence community."

Counsel for the government Jonathan Sumption QC asked: "But when you said that the government probably knew it was wrong, you were actually saying -- whether you intended to or not -- that the government was dishonest?"

Gilligan replied: "The allegation I intended to make was a spin. I do regret those words ... and I shouldn't have used them."

Gilligan, who said he had lost notes he had made on his meeting with Kelly, also admitted that he was wrong to describe the scientist in a live radio report as a "member of the intelligence services."

But he told the inquiry his report did accurately reflect Kelly's belief that some people in the intelligence services were unhappy about the 45-minute claim because they believed it had not been sufficiently corroborated.

The journalist was also questioned about why he apparently tried to influence members of a parliamentary committee by suggesting questions to be put to Kelly in a session two days before his death.

Gilligan apologized to the Hutton inquiry for his e-mail to an MP revealing Kelly as the source for another story reported on the BBC's Newsnight programme.

He blamed "enormous pressure" and told the inquiry "it was quite wrong to send it and I can only apologize".

The Hutton Inquiry has reached the stage where lawyers for the government, BBC and Kelly's family are allowed to cross-examine key figures who have been recalled.

A lawyer for Kelly's family Tuesday accused Britain's Ministry of Defence of playing "Russian roulette" with the dead man's life.

Martin Howard, deputy chief of defense intelligence, was pressed by Jeremy Gompertz, the Kelly family's counsel, to admit the weapons expert had been treated "shabbily." Howard disagreed. (Full story)

The inquiry began its second phase of hearings Monday, saying a number of witnesses would be recalled -- including Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and Campbell. (Full story)

The inquiry will continue until September 25, when Lord Hutton will begin preparing his report.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...