igloo Posted January 28 Report Share Posted January 28 Probe into weapons expert's death exonerates BlairLord Hutton chides BBC over report on British evidence about Iraq's WMDBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves Downing Street on Wednesday, hours before Lord Hutton released his report. The Associated PressUpdated: 9:54 a.m. ET Jan. 28, 2004LONDON - A judge cleared Prime Minister Tony Blairâ€™s administration Wednesday of any direct involvement in the suicide of a government expert on Iraqi weapons but criticized the BBC for its reporting in the scandal that shook the British leadership.advertisementThe government did not act in a â€œdishonorable, underhanded or duplicitousâ€ way in revealing the identity of weapons expert David Kelly, said senior appeals judge Lord Hutton, who was appointed by Blair to investigate the death.Hutton said he was satisfied that nobody involved in the matter could have foreseen that Kelly would take his own life. He killed himself after being identified as the anonymous source of the British Broadcasting Corp. report accusing the government of exaggerating claims about Iraqi weapons to bolster support for war.Blair cleared of manipulating dossierHutton also said the BBC report that Blairâ€™s government had manipulated its intelligence in an official dossier about Iraqâ€™s weapons was unfounded. He specifically rebutted the BBC report that the government had â€œsexed upâ€ the dossier.â€œI am satisfied that none of the persons whose decisions and actions I later describe ever contemplated that Dr. Kelly might take his own life. Iâ€™m further satisfied that none of those persons was at fault in not contemplating that Dr. Kelly might take his own life,â€ Hutton said on national TV as he read from his 328-page decision.â€œWhatever pressures and strains Dr. Kelly was subjected to by the decisions and actions taken in the weeks before his death, I am satisfied that no one realized or should have realized that those pressures and strains might lead him to take his own life,â€ Hutton said.In his report, BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan had quoted his source as saying that Blairâ€™s government had â€œsexed upâ€ the intelligence dossier on Iraqâ€™s arms to bolster its argument for the war in Iraq, including a claim that they could be deployed in 45 minutes.'The allegations reported by Mr. Gilligan on 29 May 2003 that the government probably knew that the 45-minutes claim was wrong before the government decided to put it in the dossier was an allegation that was unfounded.'â€” Lord HuttonSenior appeals judge The subsequent feud between the government and the BBC over the report raised widespread concerns about Blairâ€™s integrity and led to the biggest crisis of his seven years in office.â€œWhether or not at some time in the future the report on which the 45-minute claim was based was shown to be unreliable, the allegations reported by Mr. Gilligan on 29 May 2003 that the government probably knew that the 45-minutes claim was wrong before the government decided to put it in the dossier was an allegation that was unfounded,â€ Hutton said.The judge also said that Kelly had acted improperly by privately meeting with Gilligan and had breached rules regarding government employees contacts with the media because he hadnâ€™t been given permission from his superiors for such a meeting.Judge criticizes the BBCHutton sharply criticized the publicly funded BBCâ€™s â€œdefectiveâ€ handling of Gilliganâ€™s story, saying the networkâ€™s editors had failed to properly check the reporterâ€™s allegations and did not properly investigate the governmentâ€™s complaints about his report.The judge criticized the BBCâ€™s Board of Governors for failing to fully investigate the criticism of Gilliganâ€™s report and would have probably discovered it to be unfounded if they had.Hutton pored over documents, e-mails, official minutes and extracts from the personal diary of Alastair Campbell, Blairâ€™s former communications director, which provided insights into the interplay of politics and policies at the highest level.The scandal has damaged the credibility of Blair, Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, senior government officials and the BBC.Huttonâ€™s hearings, lasting most of August and September, transfixed the country, which remains deeply divided about Blairâ€™s decision to back the U.S. attack on Iraq.The retired chief U.S. weapons inspector, David Kay, said last week that he concluded that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, which were the basis of Blairâ€™s case for war.Â© 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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