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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 22:28 GMT 23:28 UK
Profound questions raised by Kelly tragedy
Political editor Andrew Marr
Andrew Marr says no one will be able to claim a great political victory

As the BBC confirms Dr David Kelly was the principal source for its controversial story on the "sexed up" Iraq weapons dossier, BBC political editor Andrew Marr analyses the latest developments in the row for the Ten O'Clock News.

News: This statement from the BBC that Dr Kelly was the main source - how has it changed the situation?

It has certainly put the BBC in the firing line and that is perfectly evident today.

At the moment most of the people making angry accusations against the BBC are, if I may say so, enemies of the BBC and have been for some time.

The government itself is standing back a little, saying 'let's wait for the inquiry'. The mood is pretty restrained at the moment.

But if it turned out that Mr Gilligan was wrong - because that is the accusation being made in effect, that he sexed up what Dr Kelly said and broadcast an inaccurate report, and then the whole weight of the BBC hierarchy, right up to the governors swung behind him and his judgement - if that turned out to be wrong - and I say if - that would be extremely serious for the BBC all the way up.

History suggests that governments, when they get this angry with a broadcaster, one day will take revenge.

What about this independent inquiry? We are going to hear the details of it tomorrow. How easy will it be to get to the truth of what happened?

I think very, very difficult in respect of what we have just been hearing about - the Gilligan story.

Because after all you have a journalist, two journalists saying that they were told a number of things by Dr Kelly and, sadly, Dr Kelly no longer there to defend himself and give his side of the story.

Perhaps there are letters, e-mails and so on that may help with that.

Beyond that, I think there are very serious questions also for the government about how Dr Kelly's name came to be put into the public arena, and indeed the way the whole machine has operated.

I don't think that when this inquiry finally reports, probably in September, anybody - BBC, journalists, or the government or spin doctors - are going to walk away from this claiming a great political defeat, a great political victory.

I think we have gone well, well beyond that and I think there are profound questions about political journalism and about the spin machine in government which no judge, however eminent, is really qualified to answer.

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