Guardian defence and security editor Richard Norton-Taylor’s play based on the Hutton Inquiry is to transfer from the theatre to television screens this winter.
Expected to be broadcast next month as part of BBC Four’s “politics in power” season, Justifying the War – Scenes from the Hutton Inquiry, is being timed to air as close to the 12 January release of Lord Hutton’s report as possible.
Norton-Taylor told Press Gazette he was pleased that any “extra sensitivities” stemming from the BBC’s central role in the actual inquiry had not dissuaded the corporation from broadcasting its dramatisation.
“They must have thought Justifying the War was fair – I hope anyway – otherwise they wouldn’t have agreed to show it,” he said. “I’m rather happy the BBC did decide to show it, albeit not on BBC Two but on BBC Four.” NortonTaylor added that, apart from the Kelly affair itself, the play raised issues about journalism. “Protecting sources or not protecting sources; the BBC’s handling of the initial stages; the acknowledgement of the mistakes in the allegations by Andrew Gilligan; whether or not the Today programme should have responded more quickly; the different approaches by Gilligan and Susan Watts, BBC guidelines. I think it’s all interesting for practising journalists.”
The play will be directed for television by Nicholas Kent, director of the Tricycle Theatre in London, where it opened last month. Justifying the War is Norton-Taylor’s fourth play directed by Kent.
It follows Half the Picture, based on evidence to the Scott arms-to-Iraq inquiry, Srebrenica, sourced from the UN War Crimes Tribunal into the murders of Muslims by Serb forces, and most recently The Colour of Justice, extracted from the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of teenager Stephen Lawrence
By Wale Azeez