BBC chairman Gavyn Davies has insisted that the corporation's governors would not have backed the BBC's management during the Iraq dossier row "for the sake of it".
Gavyn Davies strongly defended Gilligan's story
Cross-examined at the Hutton inquiry into the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly, Mr Davies said the public looked to the governors to stand up for BBC independence.
Dr Kelly apparently committed suicide after being named as the suspected source for a BBC report on claims the government "sexed up" its dossier about Saddam Hussein's weapons capability.
The inquiry heard on Wednesday that Dr Kelly had believed his own mother had committed suicide in 1964 - an open verdict was recorded on her death.
Suicide expert Professor Keith Hawton said depressive illness could be passed down through generations, but there seemed to be no evidence of that in Dr Kelly's case.
Psychiatrist Prof Hawton stuck to his view that Dr Kelly had suffered from a loss of self-esteem because he had felt people had lost trust in him. He had also felt dismayed at being exposed in the media.
Wednesday is the last of 22 days of oral evidence to the inquiry into Dr Kelly's death.
Dr Kelly's line manager, Dr Bryan Wells, was cross-examined about how Dr Kelly was treated after he admitted meeting BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan.
He said his call to tell the scientist that he had been confirmed to journalists as the suspected source for the dossier story lasted just 46 seconds because it was a bad line - although they had a slightly longer conversation minutes later.
Dr Kelly had "expressed no concern at all" at the news because he had accepted by that stage that his name would emerge, said Dr Wells.
Contrary to a suggestion in media chief Alastair Campbell's diary, the scientist had not been "schooled" before being questioned by MPs, he said.
'No blanket backing'
For the BBC, Mr Davies said the governors were "highly experienced and independent" and would not just take the BBC's management side as a matter of course.
A statement put out by the governors after their 6 July meeting was "by no means a blanket endorsement of everything the management had done", said Mr Davies.
Inquiry QC James Dingemans revealed a new BBC document
He explained that the key meeting where governors decided to back Andrew Gilligan's report had been held for the first time in three years without BBC director general Greg Dyke being present.
That was because Mr Davies did not want the governors' decision to be affected by considerations of the "sensibilities of management".
Critics have highlighted contradictions in the governors' dual role of upholding BBC standards and protecting the corporation's independence.
Government barrister Jonathan Sumption QC asked about an e-mail Mr Davies sent to governors on 29 June.
In the message, he said: "Whatever emerges about the precise details of the 45 minute claim, we must not give any ground which threatens the fundamental independence of our news output or suggests that the governors have buckled to government pressure."
Mr Sumption suggested Mr Davies had effectively been saying the governors would not give in and would support the management.
Mr Davies denied that and said: "At no stage in my life do I ignore the facts."
Dr Kelly said he did not believe he was the BBC's main source
He had been concerned about the "intolerable" pressure coming from Downing Street media chief Alastair Campbell.
Mr Davies said the name of the source for the report had never been divulged to the governors, who had been interested only in the source's standing.
"I am happy with the standing of the source now I know a great deal more about Dr Kelly," he said.
Mr Davies was asked by inquiry counsel James Dingemans QC about draft "cues" for Today programme presenters which said "experts", rather than the intelligence services, had suggested their work had been misrepresented in the Iraq dossier.
The BBC chairman denied the suggestion the broadcast had implied it was the Joint Intelligence Committee, not just people in the intelligence services, which had been unhappy.
The inquiry also heard again from Sunday Times journalist Nick Rufford, who denied Dr Kelly's wife's claims that the scientist had asked him to leave his home after he had been confirmed as the suspected source.
Mr Rufford also said he had honoured his promise to keep part, but not all, of that conversation on 9 July off-the-record.
In a separate development, it has emerged that an MPs' committee is launching an investigation into the wider implications of what the inquiry has revealed about the workings of Tony Blair's government.