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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 11:39 GMT
Hutton in world press spotlight
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Press commentators around the world continue to debate the fallout from Lord Hutton's report, both for the BBC and the UK Government.

The feeling that the report failed to probe the wider question of why the government went to war in Iraq appears widespread, and most papers predict Tony Blair's troubles may not be over yet.

But many also agree with Lord Hutton's conclusion that the BBC made mistakes, although even here some argue that the report was too heavy-handed and one-sided in its criticism.

People who until the day before yesterday attributed fierce integrity and independence to the old judge today think that he either had suddenly gone blind in his "government eye", or that perhaps he is after all a bit senile... The real reason is that Hutton resolved his investigative mission forensically, as if it concerned the reconstruction of a crime, and not politically.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine

The BBC began an information war with the Blair government on Iraq - and abandoned its own basic premise. After the war, the BBC sided against Blair. Especially in the [UK weapons expert David] Kelly affair, the focus was no longer journalism, the transmittal of positions, but rather the build-up, the defence, as well as going on the offensive on its own stance.

Germany's Der Tagesspiegel

Hutton always knows where his duty lies... The tactic almost worked, only Hutton did his job too well.

Germany's Die Tageszeitung

Lord Hutton gave an overall endorsement to Blair's actions, even though it is now known that the government took the country to war by making it believe that Iraq posed an objective threat to world peace.

Spain's El Periodico

Tony Blair seems capable of escaping from even the worst trap... Lord Hutton's surprisingly one-sided report has helped to prolong the prime minister's political life... But Blair's short-term triumph has little in common with a real victory... Mr [Gordon] Brown [the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer] has emerged as the main winner from the crises of the past few days, while the decline in Blair's personal authority is now unstoppable.

Czech Pravo

If the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and some of those close to him, mainly the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, are free of the blood of the British weapons expert, David Kelly, as it appears in the judicial inquiry, then they are certainly guilty of the blood of thousands of Iraqis who died and are still victims of this war.

Syria's Al-Ba'th

The Kelly affair has uncovered two inconvenient truths for the BBC and the government alike... The BBC is trapped in a world view that casts automatic doubt on whatever the establishment says or does... However, Lord Hutton's inquiry revealed that an unhealthy closeness has developed between intelligence personnel and political appointees.

Israel's Ha'aretz

The report now looks a little too politically convenient... For a matter as charged as the fallout from the Iraqi conflict, it was risky to appoint one man, however honourable he might be, to investigate it.

Kenya's Nation

Lord Hutton stuck to a very narrow remit. He did not comment on whether the Blair government exaggerated the case for war. The world knows - even if the gullible British claim not to - that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein posed no direct threat. So, can Tony Blair be trusted?

South Africa's Star

Prime Minister Blair has been cleared of wrongdoing, but something still does not seem quite right, because the commission avoided a verdict on whether intelligence on Iraq's WMDs was true... The question of whether there were sufficient grounds to justify the pre-emptive attack on a sovereign state remains unanswered.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun

Whether the Hutton report has credibility or not, the functioning of the BBC appears to have been characterised by insufficient editorial supervision... The BBC chairman has done the right thing to resign. But at the end of the day, Mr [Andrew] Gilligan's journalistic errors lie in the realm of over-writing not fabrication.

India's Hindustan Times

The Hutton report's exoneration of the Blair government of any blame in the Kelly Affair has apparently not left the matter at rest... It is not clear that the political damage of the whole affair can be so easily undone.

Pakistan's The Nation

The error made by reporter Andrew Gilligan on such a crucial matter was a huge one. He must now bear the consequences... Lord Hutton may have cleared Mr Blair and his government, but the suspicion that the British people were misled - through bad judgment, at least - over the reasons for going to war is one which long remains.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post

The BBC was more right than wrong over the Iraq war... Blair's crisis of governance may be temporarily over, but international opinion will not bring 'Iraq-gate' to an end because of this. The Blair government up to now still owes the public a reasonable explanation for sending troops to war.

Hong Kong's Ming Pao

Truth is the first casualty of war. In the case of the invasion of Iraq, truth has taken an even greater beating. There have been far too many casualties. In addition to truth, other casualties include Iraqi civilians, the United Nations, UK Government's weapons expert Dr David Kelly, BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies, and the credibility of the media and intelligence organisations.

Malaysia's New Straits Times

Not even Mr Blair's most devoted spin doctors could have delivered a more devout defence... Hutton has resolved the conflict. He lays practically all the blame on the BBC... The obvious conclusion is that Hutton submitted a report which served the interests of the state. Blair won a short-term victory, democracy suffered a defeat.

Sweden's Aftonbladet

The BBC is not alone in having made mistakes. But the news corporation, its journalist and his bosses bear chief responsibility for this unfortunate affair... The BBC's credibility stands and falls on the corporation's journalism being 100% honest, truthful and fair.

Denmark's Information

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain has given an impressive demonstration of how good governance can also be smart politics... Its report leaves him substantially vindicated, even though the reporting of British intelligence agencies on Iraq now appears to have been disastrously inaccurate... Establishing that the British Government did not lie is not the same as showing that it proceeded wisely or even competently in this area.

US daily New York Times

Lord Hutton's report, its conclusions and inferences about the circumstance of the suicide of British weapons expert David Kelly, remain an internal British issue from our point of view as Arabs... This does not mean that the file of the issue has been completely closed... Arab countries should raise their voices to demand a further investigation.

Qatar's Al-Watan

The last few days have shown that Blair's victories are just tactical. Strategically speaking, the prime minister is in a bad way. He is continuing to lose his party... As for the "Kelly affair", it cannot be considered closed yet.

Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta by Yuliya Petrovskaya

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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