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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 21:31 GMT 22:31 UK
Gilligan 'suggested Kelly questions'
Andrew Gilligan
Andrew Gilligan faced the Hutton Inquiry last week
BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan may have tried to use Dr David Kelly's appearance before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee to get at the government, the Hutton Inquiry has heard.

An e-mail from the reporter to a Liberal Democrat researcher appeared to suggest questions to be put to the weapons expert, counsel to the inquiry James Dingemans QC said.

Mr Gilligan's e-mail apparently said the issue of whether Dr Kelly had been his source for his story that a dossier on Iraqi weapons was 'sexed up' was a "red herring".

But it continued: "He (Dr Kelly) should be asked what kind of threat Iraq was in September 2002 and if he was able to answer frankly, it should be devastating."

'Extraordinary'

Mr Dingemans said the e-mail had not been disclosed by the BBC and that the Corporation was conducting its own investigation as to why it had been withheld until now.

According to Mr Dingemans the e-mail was sent to a member of Liberal Democrats staff.

We're looking at this e-mail and will deal with it in the context of the Hutton Inquiry
BBC

Questioning Number 10's press chief Alastair Campbell on Tuesday, Mr Dingemans suggested the e-mail showed: "A game of chicken was being played by two great big institutions with Dr Kelly in the middle."

Mr Campbell said: "I do not accept that."

But he added: "I find that quite an extraordinary e-mail."

Mr Campbell also said that no-one involved in the case had ever thought that it would end with Dr Kelly's death.

He apparently committed suicide days after appearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr Campbell said: "The impression I got was of a very strong, resolute character, clearly of deep conviction, who had been in among difficult, stressful circumstances before, and I don't think it crossed anybody's mind it could take the turn it did."

In a statement on Tuesday night the BBC said: "We're looking at this e-mail and will deal with it in the context of the Hutton Inquiry."




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