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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 10:49 GMT
Papers dissect Hutton report
The front pages on Thursday are dominated by the repercussions of the Hutton report into the events leading to the death of Dr David Kelly.

The Sun declares that the BBC is "in crisis" after its chairman, Gavyn Davies, resigned.

The paper demands the resignation of the director-general, Greg Dyke, and the head of news, Richard Sambrook.

It says the corporation's governors could now be stripped of many powers.

On a double-page spread it celebrates its publication of leaked details of the report the morning of its release.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the BBC was plunged into the biggest crisis in its history while the government was cleared unequivocally.

It illustrates the contrasting fortunes of the two sides, with pictures of a solemn-looking Mr Davies and a grinning Tony Blair.

'Whitewash'

The front page of the Independent simply reads "Whitewash?" on a mostly blank poster-style background.

Inside, Robin Cook writes: "If I am ever up in court on a serious charge, I want to book Lord Hutton now as the trial judge.

But he says on the question of whether Tony Blair believed in a threat from Iraq, Lord Hutton's judgement was right.

Also writing in the Independent, former editor Andreas Whittam-Smith urges Mr Dyke to give up his role of editor-in-chief and employ a former national newspaper editor to reform the system of editorial control.

Chief culprit

The Guardian says that the criticism in Lord Hutton's report cuts right through the corporation.

The paper claims that the board of governors has been considering whether to follow Mr Davies and resign.

Unnamed senior ministers are said to regard Mr Dyke as the chief culprit in the affair.

In his sketch on the front page, Jonathan Freedland writes that if the inquiry had been a show transferring to London's West End it would have to be called Whitewash.

According to the Financial Times, Lord Hutton's verdict took the political world by surprise.

It speaks of a sweeping vindication of the government's actions.

The FT says the contrast between the law lord's castigation of the BBC and his acquittal of the government was so great that the corporation started to question the basis on which he had made his judgment.

'Whiter than white'

A halo hovers above the head of a happy-looking Mr Blair on the front of the Daily Express.

"Hutton rinses Blair whiter than white", declares a headline, adding that Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, and the former Number 10 director of communications, Alastair Campbell, received the same treatment.

The three men are pictured on the front of the Daily Mirror.

Above them, the headline "Unfounded" refers to the BBC claim that the government had sexed up its September dossier.

Below, the word "unfound" refers to the elusive Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Inside it describes the prime minister as "back from the dead" and the BBC as "shamed".

Less than honest

Red roses on Dr Kelly's grave, in a snow-covered churchyard in Oxfordshire, illustrate the Daily Mail's coverage.

The paper notes that Mr Blair's government has been cleared of any blame for the scientist's apparent suicide, but wonders whether justice has really been done.

Former Evening Standard editor Max Hastings writes: "We have the wretched spectacle of a BBC chairman resigning while Alastair Campbell crows from the summit of his dunghill."

Sketch writers and commentators offer their various perspectives on the controversy.

'Knockout victory'

In the Times Magnus Linklater, who attended the inquiry, recalls Lord Hutton's laser-like interventions whenever a witness was confused, contradictory or less than honest.

But Linklater says there was little of that on show on Wednesday.

The law lord, he concludes, failed to turn his acerbic eye on the goings-on in Downing Street.

But one headline inside speaks of "Blair's knockout victory over bloodied BBC".

Only the Daily Star opts not to carry the Hutton report as its front page lead, instead plumping for a story about I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.




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