Review places final blame on journo Gilligan
LONDON — The BBC has ruled out further resignations in the wake of the Hutton inquiry, which concluded that the pubcaster’s reporting of last year’s run-up to the war in Iraq was “defective.”
BBC chairman Gavyn Davies and director-general Greg Dyke ankled in January.
The internal inquiry cleared the pubcaster’s senior news managers and laid the blame on Andrew Gilligan, the defense correspondent for Radio Four’s “Today” program, who broke the story claiming that the government “sexed up” a report on Iraq’s weapons capability. He quit after his source, British arms expert Dr David Kelly, committed suicide after being outed.
In a statement published Monday, the BBC said that its executives had acted properly in preparing the script for “Today” on May 29, 2003, that led to the clash with Tony Blair’s government. But it added that Gilligan did not follow the script.
Director of news Richard Sambrook, also cleared by the internal inquiry, said he welcomed the findings and hoped that a line could now be drawn under Hutton.
“This has been a difficult period for BBC News. … We must put this chapter behind us and continue with our main objective: providing strong, trusted journalism to our U.K. and global audiences.”
But it is unlikely to be the end of the affair. Dyke is working on his memoirs for publication in the fall and these will tell his side of the saga.
Gilligan, now working as a free-lance reporter, is unhappy too. “I reject the claim that I failed to follow BBC procedures,” he said. “If that had been the case, I would have expected my superiors to have noticed it and mentioned it to me at the time, but they did not.”
The BBC hopes that the arrival of new chair Michael Grade, who starts work Monday, will help restore morale.
At a press conference following his appointment, he told reporters: “The greatest threat to the independence of the BBC is the self-censorship of the staff. They need to put Hutton behind them, learn the lessons and move forward.”