[R-G] Fw: Ex-BBC boss slams judge over report
info at cinox.demon.co.uk
Fri Jan 30 08:50:42 MST 2004
Agence France Presse Friday January 30, 10:46 PM
One day after he quit as BBC director general, Greg Dyke took aim at a
judicial inquiry that severely criticized the public broadcaster while
absolving the government of any blame in the suicide of a British arms
Speaking on BBC radio and GMTV television, Dyke said he did not accept all
of Lord Brian Hutton's report into the death of weapons expert David
Kelly, saying it was lacking in balance and tainted with errors.
"I, others at the BBC, certainly our legal team, were certainly very
surprised by the nature of the report," said Dyke on BBC radio's flagship
"Today" news programme.
"It is remarkable how he has given the benefit of judgment to virtually
everyone in the government and to no one at the BBC," he said Friday.
On the commercial GMTV channel, Dyke -- whose resignation Thursday
triggered spontaneous walkouts and demonstrations by hundreds of BBC staff
around the country -- said: "We were shocked that it was so black and
"We knew mistakes had been made by us but we didn't believe they were only
by us," he said.
He went further, accusing Hutton -- one of the most senior jurists in
Britain -- of making mistakes.
"I would be very interested in what a few other law lords on looking at
Hutton thought of it," he said. "We have an opinion that there are points
of law in there where he is quite clearly wrong."
Dyke's remarks built on comments he made in the hours after he resigned
Thursday, when he said on BBC television: "I don't necessarily accept the
findings of Lord Hutton".
On the blanket apology that BBC governors made to Prime Minister Tony
Blair, he said: "I couldn't quite work out what they were apologizing
Dyke's criticism, and his vow to speak out even more in the coming weeks,
dashed any hopes entertained by Blair and the remaining BBC governors that
a line could be drawn under the Kelly affair.
In his report Wednesday, Hutton cleared Blair's government of any serious
wrongdoing in the events surrounding the suicide last July of Kelly, a
highly respected Ministry of Defence expert on Iraqi biological weapons.
A YouGov poll in the right-wing Daily Telegraph newspaper Friday found
that 56 percent of Britons believed Hutton's report was a "whitewash", and
that 67 percent trusted BBC journalists -- compared with 31 percent who
trusted Blair's government.
The National Union of Journalists is threatening "whatever action is
necessary" if the BBC fires Andrew Gilligan, the "Today" reporter at the
center of the Kelly affair.
Kelly took his life just days after he was exposed by the government as
the source of a unscripted report in May by Gilligan alleging that the
government's September 2002 dossier on Iraq and its alleged weapons of
mass destruction had been "sexed up".
The most sensational part of that dossier -- a crucial part of Blair's
effort to build public support for war -- was the claim that Saddam
Hussein's regime could deploy chemical or biological weapons in just 45
Hutton concluded that the dossier had not been "sexed up" even though it
emerged during his inquiry that the 45-minute claim referred to
battlefield weapons only and that it came from just one source.
But the judge came down hard on BBC governors and management, accusing
them of poor editorial supervision and failure to take seriously the
denial issued by the prime minister's office in Downing Street that it had
exaggerated the threat.
While commentators attacked Hutton's report as a whitewash, the BBC
plunged into crisis, with its chairman Gavyn Davies resigning Wednesday
and Dyke leaving Thursday after the BBC governors "unreservedly
apologised" to Blair.
Dyke, a wealthy socialist dubbed "Tony's crony" when he was appointed by
the prime minister as the BBC's top executive, said Friday he had no
choice but to stand down because he no longer had the support of the
Blair's official spokesman called Friday for an end to the controversy.
"It's time to draw a line and move on," he said. "A dispassionate judge
has looked at the facts and has made his judgment on the facts. That's
where the matter should rest."
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