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Sunday, 18 November, 2001, 14:18 GMT
'Excited' Simpson regrets Kabul claims
John Simpson
John Simpson was greeted by crowds on his way to Kabul
The BBC's John Simpson said he is "very, very, very embarrassed" after his widely-reported remarks that he liberated Kabul.

As he entered the Afghan capital he told viewers it was "extraordinarily exhilarating to be liberating a city".

The Taleban had left the city and the veteran correspondent and other BBC staff arrived before the Northern Alliance column.


I got a bit carried away - I just got a bit excited

John Simpson
His remarks were pilloried by some commentators with even Home Secretary David Blunkett adding a note of sarcasm.

It was later emphasised that BBC correspondents Rageh Omar, William Reeve and Kate Clark were already in Kabul.

Simpson told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost programme on Sunday he was "very, very, very embarrassed. Very embarrassed".

But he also accused some rival sections of the media of "sour grapes".

"We were the first. It was the BBC, it wasn't just me.

Jubilant crowd

"There were five colleagues of mine walking alongside me."

Simpson was greeted by a jubilant crowd on the approach to Kabul, chanting "death to the Taleban" and other slogans.

John Simpson dons a burqa to enter Afghanistan
Simpson entered Afghanistan in September dressed as a woman
The world affairs editor insisted he was right in saying the BBC was first into Kabul on the day and that he had been caught up in the excitement of the moment.

"Everybody else was behind us, some of them hours and hours and hours behind us.

"I walked down through this vast great crowd and they were so delighted to see us and I got a bit carried away. I just got a bit excited.

"I can't help it - it was a fantastic moment."

Simpson admitted that, with hindsight, he would have wanted to be more circumspect.

"What I should have said was that we brought the news to people in Kabul that they had been liberated.

'Sour grapes'

"I kind of shortened it down from the first word to the last word of the sentence.


Everybody else was behind us, some of them hours and hours and hours behind us

John Simpson
"I regret it but I don't regret being there a long way in advance."

And he said that some rival reporters may have been motivated in their criticism by disappointment at being beaten into the city.

ITN's Julian Manyon has been much quoted in the press saying: "One can think of all sorts of comparisons between John Simpson and a B52 bomber - but it's clear which did the most damage in pushing back the Taleban."

Simpson told Sir David: "I can't help but think a little bit of it is sour grapes that other people weren't there with us."

See also:

17 Nov 01 | Newsmakers
John Simpson: Action Addict
14 Nov 01 | UK
A liberating experience
04 Oct 01 | Americas
US urges curb on Arab TV channel
04 Oct 01 | Media reports
Al-Jazeera goes it alone
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Eyewitness: The liberation of Kabul
22 Sep 01 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Taleban in crisis
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