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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
BBC Hutton inquiry clears editors
Andrew Gilligan
Gilligan: Rejected claim he "failed to follow BBC procedures"
No staff will be sacked following an internal inquiry in the wake of the Hutton affair, the BBC has said.

The probe was launched after Lord Hutton's inquiry concluded BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's report into weapons of mass destruction was "unfounded".

The BBC inquiry said the proper process had been in place but "but was not then followed" by Mr Gilligan, who resigned after Lord Hutton's report.

Mr Gilligan told BBC News Online he was "broadly pleased" with the BBC report.

The BBC seems finally to have joined the rest of the country in rejecting the conclusions of Lord Hutton
Former BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan

Although much of the internal inquiry will be kept confidential, the BBC said it wanted to clarify two points brought up in the Hutton Report.

A BBC statement said: "In relation to the broadcast on the Today programme, on 29 May 2003, we are satisfied that a core script was properly prepared and cleared in line with normal production practices in place at the time, but was then not followed by Andrew Gilligan.

"We consider the BBC's evidence to the Hutton Inquiry could have been clearer in this respect."


Mr Gilligan told BBC News Online: "I am broadly pleased with the outcome of the inquiry, in that the BBC seems finally to have joined the rest of the country in rejecting the conclusions of Lord Hutton."

However he rejected any idea that he "failed to follow BBC procedures".

The implied criticism of Stephen Mitchell and Kevin Marsh in these aspects was in our view unjustified
BBC statement
"If this 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," he said.

The BBC statement went on to defend two senior staff following "implied criticism" from Lord Hutton referring to an e-mail sent by the editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Kevin Marsh, to the head of Radio News, Stephen Mitchell.

The e-mail, which was revealed at the Hutton inquiry, criticised Mr Gilligan's reporting methods.

Lord Hutton
Lord Hutton was highly critical of the BBC
Lord Hutton concluded the e-mail should have been referred up to senior colleagues, and by not doing so constituted a flaw in the management system.

But the BBC said: "The impression given by the BBC's evidence was that this e-mail did not reflect the views of senior News management.

"The process has concluded that in fact it did reflect their views and that the views in question had been the subject of recent discussion, so there was no need for the e-mail to be referred up.

"The implied criticism of Stephen Mitchell and Kevin Marsh in these aspects was in our view unjustified."


BBC director of news Richard Sambrook said he welcomed the inquiry conclusions, and it was now time to "put this chapter behind us".

"This has been a difficult period for BBC News," he said.

He said there were "lessons to learn", and pledged that the BBC would work to ensure its journalism was "of the highest standard".

The BBC's inquiry was conducted by Stephen Dando, director of BBC People and Caroline Thomson, director of Policy and Legal.

Mr Gilligan's Today report was centred on the claim that the government had "sexed up" the Iraqi dossier that was used as the basis for going to war.

The source of the claim was later revealed as government scientist Dr David Kelly, who committed suicide after giving evidence to a panel of MPs.

The fall-out from the Hutton Inquiry led to the resignation of BBC director general Greg Dyke and its chairman Gavyn Davies.

The new chairman of the corporation is Michael Grade, who starts his job on 17 May. Mark Byford, former director of World Service and Global News, is currently acting director general.

His position is expected to be filled later in the year.

A separate BBC inquiry to identify editorial lessons from the Hutton affair, chaired by Ronald Neil, will report next month.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"It's not clear if they're going to face disciplinary action"

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