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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
BBC under fire over Kelly
BBC TVC
Several people say the BBC faces tough questions
The BBC has come under fire after confirming that Dr David Kelly was the principal source for its controversial report claiming that a dossier on Iraq's illegal weapons was "sexed up" by Downing Street.

The most stringent attack came from Dr Kelly's local MP, the Conservative Robert Jackson, who called for the resignation of BBC chairman Gavyn Davies.

Mr Jackson accused BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan of inventing much of the report in which he claimed that a source had told him Downing Street had "sexed up" a dossier outlining the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

He laid the blame for Dr Kelly's death on the BBC.

Mr Jackson said he believed the BBC's conduct was "appalling".

David Kelly, government weapons proliferation adviser
David Kelly faced MPs last week
"If they (the BBC) had made this statement while Dr Kelly was alive, I believe he would still be alive and I think the chairman of the BBC board of governors should resign over this matter.

"I believe Gavyn Davies knew Dr Kelly's name and he clearly misled his governors in telling them that this was a senior intelligence source.

"I believe the chairman of the BBC governors as a matter of public accountability should resign from his office forthwith."

Mr Jackson also called for Mr Gilligan's resignation, saying he thought it was "quite clear that Mr Andrew Gilligan systematically invented a substantial part of his very damaging story".

"Mr Gilligan should go, the head of news should go and I think Greg Dyke should consider his position," he said.

Tory MP Robert Jackson
MP Robert Jackson called for the resignation of the BBC chairman
Gerald Kaufman, chairman of the culture, media and sport committee, said the government had been entitled to pursue the matter of whether the BBC story was accurate.

He said: "The way the BBC have conducted themselves throughout raises the need for consideration of the governance of the BBC and the way the BBC deals with news."

He added that the issue also raised questions about how the BBC should be allowed to continue as a public service broadcaster.

Mr Kaufman added that the BBC behaved in a manner which a tabloid newspaper might "wonder about".

"None of it would have followed, right through the inquiry, the role of number 10, the role of the MoD and, I am very sorry to say, the death of Dr Kelly. None of this would have happened if it had not been for the BBC story."

Andrew Gilligan
BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan's report is at the centre of the row
Mr Kaufman said he was not suggesting that the BBC should be held responsible for the weapons expert's death but that "the BBC ought to be questioned about is the journalistic standards under which they have been operating".

Peter Mandelson, a key ally of Mr Blair, said: "This statement is a difficult one for the BBC to have made and is welcome as far as it goes.

"It begs a whole series of questions and I am mystified why the BBC has not gone all the way in accepting the original facts of the story were wrong."

Eric Illsley, a Labour MP who is a member of the foreign affairs committee, said he had "fully expected" the confirmation from the BBC that Dr Kelly was the main source for its story.

"I think the BBC has got to look at itself long and hard now after Andrew Gilligan's latest evidence to the foreign affairs committee last Thursday."

'Fundamental conflict'

Mr Illsley said the allegation that Mr Campbell inserted the 45-minute claim into the Iraq dossier now appeared to have been "fabricated".

And Rod Liddle, former editor of the BBC's Today programme, was adamant that a journalist did not name their source.

"It's an absolutely fundamental tenant," he said. "Who would trust any journalist if he caved in to pressure from the government to root out their source?"

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Donald Anderson, said there was a "fundamental conflict" between the evidence Dr Kelly and Mr Gilligan had given the Foreign Affairs select committee.

"This is now a matter for Lord Hutton's inquiry to which I may be called.

"It would therefore now be prudent to defer any further comment in this matter until that time."

'Version of the truth'

Television journalist and friend of Dr Kelly, Tom Mangold, said: "If the BBC cannot find supporting evidence, it really must come out and say whether it has been unable to support these wider allegations.

"The BBC has got a lot of work to do on this. I don't understand why some of the Uncle Toms of the Board of Governors gave the whole thing their support."

But Mr Mangold said it was possible that all those involved may be "speaking a version of the truth".

Mr Mangold added Dr Kelly was "absolutely delighted" at the prospect of returning to Iraq, convinced that he would find some element of Saddam's weapons.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nick Higham
"The BBC faces a crisis which goes right to the top of the organisation"



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