I fail to see what a resignation from the top does to improve the situation, surely the answer is to sack the journos, the editors, etc that were involved in the production of the lie in the first place.
TONY Blair would have been justified in cracking open a bottle of bubbly last night.
He and those around him had been vindicated by the Hutton report.
With the narrow victory on university fees the previous day, it made an incredible double for a Prime Minister written off by many pundits.
There were no celebrations at the BBC, though. Lord Hutton was brutal about their management and journalism.
They pride themselves on being the best in the world so, when they fall short of that standard, they must expect the roof to fall in.
Their chairman, Gavyn Davies, an honourable man, did the decent thing and resigned. That will make it easier for them to sort out how the Corporation is run in future.
As Mr Davies said, you must accept the verdict of the referee so there is no point in complaining about the Hutton judgment.
There is no doubt BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan should not have said that Downing Street knowingly inserted a false claim in what was called the dodgy dossier.
He said they knew it wasn't true that Saddam Hussein could fire weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes - a claim proved false by Hutton.
But in the first three letters of complaint from No.10, no mention was made of that claim, which became the focus of Hutton's report.
The rest of Gilligan's short broadcast was correct. He was RIGHT that the 45-minute claim was inserted late, RIGHT that there was disquiet in the intelligence communities about the dossier and RIGHT that there was an anonymous, single source for the information.
Demands grow for inquiry into the case for war as Hutton is accused of a 'whitewash'
By Andrew Grice Political Editor
29 January 2004
The BBC chairman Gavyn Davies became the first casualty of the inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly as Lord Hutton was accused last night of presiding over a "whitewash".
Tony Blair, his former director of communications Alastair Campbell and the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon were all cleared of any improper behaviour leading up to the suicide of the weapons expert, bringing barely disguised relief in Government circles.
Vindication of Mr Blair allowed him to survive the most testing 24 hours of his premiership, following his wafer-thin victory in Tuesday's Commons vote on tuition fees. The combination of both events could have cost the Prime Minister his job but one jubilant aide said last night: "Houdini has done it again."
However, Lord Hutton failed to settle the crucial question of whether Mr Blair took Britain to war in Iraq on a false prospectus. After he ruled that the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was beyond his terms of reference, the Tories and Liberal Democrats renewed their demands for an independent inquiry into the build-up to war.
So unequivocal was Lord Hutton's report - and so apparent his willingness to give the government the benefit of the doubt - that only two papers swallow it whole.
Those papers, as anyone who has followed their coverage of the inquiry will know, are the Sun and the Times.
Quite how the Times obtained the information that made it possible for journalists to identify David Kelly is one of the many "awkward questions" that the Hutton report leaves unanswered - and it seems unlikely that Alastair Campbell, in his new job as a sports columnist on the paper, will shed any further light on the goings-on in Number 10.
As Simon Hoggart puts it in the Guardian: "The gist of the inquiry is: Blair without flaw - official!"
Apart from a minor criticism of the failure of the Ministry of Defence to inform Dr Kelly that his name was about to become public, Lord Hutton exonerated the government from blame. His disdain for the BBC, on the other hand (of which more below), was plain.
"Whitewash?" asks the Independent, on a largely blank front page.
"We could not believe it when we got it," a senior cabinet minister confided to the Telegraph.
"UNFOUNDED ... the charge they 'sexed up' dossier. UNFOUND ... the WMD they took us to war over," the Mirror splashes.
The Daily Mail sets out "what Hutton chose to ignore". "The dossier was altered at Campbell's request," writes an incredulous Edward Heathcoat Amory.
"Hutton attacked the BBC hierarchy for allowing one of their journalists to criticise the government on the basis of one uncorroborated report from a source ... But he was only too happy in another part of his report for the government to make the 45-minute claim on the basis of - yes - a single uncorroborated report from within Iraq."
"Nor," add the Guardian's Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, "does he address the extracts from the diary of Alastair Campbell ... hinting at a personal vendetta against Gilligan ...
"Also in his diary, Mr Gilligan refers to a conversation with the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, in which he spoke about "a plea bargain", suggesting that the defence secretary would offer a deal to Dr Kelly. Lord Hutton again brushes this aside."
The paper also points out that Lord Hutton ignored the evidence of the BBC's Newsnight science editor, Susan Watts, which corroborates a great deal of Mr Gilligan's report.
At times, says the Independent's Donald Macintyre, the law lord's verdict "[bordered] on what looks like naivete."
What sort of a man is Lord Hutton? The Guardian paints a picture of a "master of fact" who applied the "criminal standard of proof" to the inquiry. "He is a trusting man as far a officialdom is concerned," one QC tells the paper.
But Boris Johnson, as ever. made me laugh myself sick
"He is a mixture of Harry Houdini and a greased piglet. He is barely human in his elusiveness ... Blair, Hoon, Scarlett, the whole lot of them, have been sprayed with more whitewash than a Costa Brava timeshare. Hutton has succumbed to blindness of Nelsonian proportions. As snow-jobs go, this beats the Himalayas."
It's always been a fascination of mine as to why it might be that the head of a dept. gets sacked for something that he probably didn't even know was going on.
(1) If the policy, methods and so forth of an organisation is set by the man at the top (think Robert Maxwell advertising and so forth for the Mirror) then they are set to be the focus for blame and praise for that organisation.
(2) If the policy, methods and so forth of a news organisation is set by the organisation itself (think BBC, think a 100 years of independence) then the failure of a particular dept. has to be blamed on the dept. for not following the corporate line.
And that is why more heads should have rolled. I might also add that a friend is a very principalled producer of a well known BBC show you probably have all watched at some point and feels that they are a little let down by the tabloid news reporting style now in evidence throughout the BBC.
And because I like starting sentences with an And and because I'm on a bit of a rant I would add the the BBC is choc-a-bloc of pinko tree huggers who want us to give all our nuclear weapons to Africa or something....
And the quality of news reportng on BBC world is crap - I might add. It makes CNN look professional!
I suspect you're wrong. I suspect the failure of a credible oppposition will leave everyone at home and the 30% of the population who do turn out will vote for New Labour, The Liberals, The SNP and The BNP in that order.
Stunning isn't it, all the Tories need is a leader with personality strength, some witty lines, and a super model girlfriend to win. IF Hugh Grant had an opinion he could be PM if he tried.
I am in the quite priveleged position, of being able to see News 24 , CNN, Fcux News, Euro News all running simultaneously. Though I admit, invariably the Fucx news channel alternates with Cartoon Network, but Euro News, has come on leaps and bounds in the last year, especially their "No comment" section.
The BBC, for all it's faults, is simply the best News service in the world. The tabloid style, is undoubtedly a Dyke-ism, and was implemented, primairily, to expolit the BBC's massive growth in US viewing, during Gulf II. Personally, I think it was a mistake. The reason the BBC gained such a massive following, was because it was an in depth service.It's other strength, is/was it didn't tow the party line.
But, Dyke felt that the BBC had to go head to head with CNN , MSNBC, Fcux and the rest. Then again, it's not that popular in certain quarters in Israel and the US. The BBC is not one journalist. Yes they backed their journalist, mistakenly as it turned out, but they still backed him, and that sends an important message to their staff. As the Hutton report has been published, the BBC has moved to make what apologies it feels it needs to, and to get it's procedures in order.
The vast majority of the Press this morning, even those with a traditional axe to grind against the BBC, are saying "Whitewash". It is. The moment Hutton annonuced that the WMD issue , was not going to be covered in his report, I realised just why the report was late. That must have been a hell of a re-write t the 11th hour.
I expect to see Campbell back in his post shortly, and the Good Lord Hutton given a very nice consultancy in News International , or the Lord Advocates office, sometime in the next 6 months.
The general feeling, is this report, by virtue of the narrow parameters placed upon it, is bent. I am being kind.
Suspect the slow destruction of BBC news quality is down to journo's only getting paid a few '000 pounds per year or something so anyone that knows how to pronounce the leader of Georgia's name correctly isn't going to work for the BBC. Personally I blame the decison to allow regionally accented news presenters to work for the organisation. ****ing scotsmen telling me about a giant egg in East Anglia or a damned Scouse reporting on the weather in London. Who do they think they are???
Absolutely agree re whitewashed report by it's leaving stuff out. It's something I do in my civjob, if somethings going to fail or look bad and you can't fix it, just de-scope it.
I once worked for a man called David, David was the character upon whom David from the series The Office was based.
By which I mean it is possible to find such hard-chinned-don't-give-a-fcuk-about-what-you-think-of-me characters, and I suspect the labour party has it's fair share.
If you were a party member and could get promoted several rungs up and all you had to do was promote party policy (which you blindly approve of) through the BBC and all your colleagues hated you but that's OK 'cos you'll be governor of the BBC you'd go wouldn't you....
Director general Greg Dyke has quit as the BBC's crisis deepens in the wake of Lord Hutton's damning verdict.
Mr Dyke's decision to step down follows BBC chairman Gavyn Davies' resignation on Wednesday, shortly after the law lord's report was published.
An emotional Mr Dyke told reporters he hoped their departures meant "a line can be drawn under this whole episode".
The pair quit after the most serious claims in Andrew Gilligan's BBC's reports were branded "unfounded".
Hutton has achieved what he set out to do, and now the smoke and mirrors have started to clear, the BBC has just woken up to the realisation, it's been had. Had in spectacular fashion.
A Hypothetical view
How can you regain control of your mouthpiece? After all , charter threats haven't worked.
Simple, blow something out of all proportion , keep it blowing, tell an independent Judicial figure you want the truth and nothing but the truth, then narrow his remit at the last minute, keep it focused on what you want, which will inevitably give your target a kicking. look at his initial findings, tell him they are outside the strict remit (Use a flatmate from college days for this) and have him inform the world , the report will be a bit longer.
Then, tell the British public you'll be reworking the BBC, because we can't have irresponsible journalism, BBC is the representative of Britain to the world etc etc , cut or freeze the Licence fee for x time , appoint a mate to the D-G post. One you can control, and one you know, will do your every bidding. Make sure you can get him in now, because you want that organisation, to give you loads of free advertising in the run up to a general election. Make sure you retain control, because when the inquiry starts as to why we went to war in the first place, you want the World's premier news organisation on side.
Campbell to the BBC
No inquiry into the reasons for war
Resignations in the intelligence community
Another scapegoat to be found on the Government side, to show how "Fair" Tone is
Another Blairite to the top job at the BBC , possibly a public media figure, with a history of "Yoof" orientated programming.
Very sympathetic coverage of our friends across the pond
Part of the BBC privatised , possibly current affairs.