The BBC has conceded that describing Andrew Gilligan’s “sexed-up dossier” report as having come from “an intelligence source” was inaccurate.
In an e-mail sent on 14 July and published by the Hutton Inquiry last week, BBC chairman Gavyn Davies wrote to governor Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, saying that the phrase “senior intelligence sources” was inserted into the corporation’s 6 July statement “at the last minute”.
In a bizarre turn of events – which in some way mirror the accusations the Government faced regarding the insertion of the “45-minute” claim in Gilligan’s original Today report – Davies admitted: “The bit about intelligence was drafted in at the last minute by a PR person – the way of the world.”
The suggestion was proved wrong after the source was ?nally shown to be a biological weapons expert attached to the Ministry of Defence from the Foreign Of?ce – Dr David Kelly.
Neville-Jones, a former member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, wrote back to Davies having conducted her own research into Gilligan’s source. “It would not be right to term Kelly an intelligence source of any level of seniority,” she said.
She also criticised the governors for having “erred in characterising the source at all, let alone inaccurately”.
A spokeswoman “refused to speculate” on whether the BBC’s case had been weakened by the parallels that could be drawn between this insertion and that alleged of the Government by Gilligan’s Today report.
By Wale Azeez