I am today resigning from the BBC. I and everyone else involved here have
for five months admitted the mistakes we made.
We deserved criticism. Some of my
story was wrong, as I admitted at the inquiry, and I again apologise for it.
My departure is at my own initiative. But the BBC collectively has been the victim of a grave injustice.
If Lord Hutton had fairly considered the evidence he heard, he would have
concluded that most of my story was right.
The government did sex up the
dossier, transforming possibilities and probabilities into certainties, removing
vital caveats; the 45-minute claim was the 'classic example' of this; and many
in the intelligence services, including the leading expert in WMD, were unhappy
Thanks to what David Kelly told me and other BBC journalists, in very
similar terms, we know now what we did not know before.
Tribute to Dr Kelly
I pay tribute to David
This report casts a chill over all journalism, not just the BBC's. It seeks to
hold reporters, with all the difficulties they face, to a standard that it does
not appear to demand of, for instance, government dossiers.
I am comforted by
the fact that public opinion appears to disagree with Lord Hutton and I hope
this will strengthen the resolve of the BBC.
The report has imposed on the BBC a punishment far out of proportion to its or
my mistakes, which were honest ones.
It is hard to believe now that this all
stems from two flawed sentences in one unscripted early-morning interview, never
repeated, when I said that the government "probably knew" that the 45-minute
figure was wrong.
I attributed this to David Kelly; it was in fact an inference of mine.
been claimed that this was the charge which went round the world, but a cuttings
check shows that it did not even get as far as a single Fleet Street newspaper.
Nor did the government mention it in its first three letters of complaint.
In my view, this helps explain why neither I nor the BBC focused on this
phrase as we should have. I explicitly made clear, in my broadcasts, that the
45-minute point was based on real intelligence.
'Exaggeration not fabrication'
I repeatedly said also that I
did not accuse the government of fabrication, but of exaggeration. I stand by
that charge, and it will not go away.
In Greg Dyke the BBC has lost its finest director general for a generation.
should not have resigned, and I am extremely sorry to see him go.
I would like to thank the BBC for its support throughout the extraordinary and
terrible ordeal that has been the last seven months.
It has defended the right
to investigate and report accurately on matters about which the public has a
right to know. Save for the admissions I and the BBC have made, my reporting on
the dossier's compilation fulfilled this purpose.
I love the BBC and I am resigning because I want to protect it. I accept my
part in the crisis which has befallen the organisation. But a greater part has
been played by the unbalanced judgments of Lord Hutton.