August 1, 2003

MORE ON BBC CHICANERY: The Guardian has extracts from the hearing into claims that the BBC falsely charged Tony Blair’s administration with “sexing up” intelligence about Iraq. Looks like the Beeb is the one with credibility problems:

Stanley… If what you are now saying is the case, I think that you have led this whole committee, and the wider public, up the garden path in a most staggering way … This is very, very serious, Mr Gilligan. I cannot tell you how serious it is to mislead a committee. I must ask you very, very straight: are you saying Mr Campbell did or did not have responsibility for inserting into the document the 45-minute claim?

Gilligan I have never said in respect of the insertion of the 45-minute claim that Mr Campbell inserted it. I simply quoted the words of my source. The claim was that the dossier had been transformed, and I asked “How did this transformation happen?” And the answer was a single word, “Campbell”.

I then asked “What do you mean, Campbell made it up?” And he said, “No. It was real information – this is the 45-minute claim – but it was included in the dossier against our wishes, because it was not reliable.” We may draw the inference, and indeed the committee may reasonably draw the inference, that the decision to include the 45-minute claim was made by Mr Campbell. That was the allegation of the source …

Stanley You know absolutely that was the interpretation being placed on your remarks. You know perfectly well, from what you have said to us now, that there was no justification for such an interpretation … Can I ask whether you wish to consider before the committee moves to private deliberations, which I think will be extremely serious, whether you now wish to make a very full and frank apology to this committee for having, in my view, grievously misled this committee?

Read it all.

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