Campbell: BBC should face the facts

The Prime Minister’s former director of communications, Alastair Campbell, has expressed his disappointment at the BBC’s failure to fully accept the findings of Lord Hutton’s report into the suicide of Iraqi weapons expert, Dr David Kelly.

Lord Hutton castigated the BBC for allowing Andrew Gilligan to publish a report on the Government’s role in ‘sexing up’ an intelligence dossier about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Campbell said the resignation of BBC chairman Gavyn Davies failed to conceal the poor way the BBC had behaved in the aftermath of the report yesterday.

“Gavyn Davies has resigned and yet his statement appears to be saying, as Greg Dyke’s statement appears to be saying that they basically stand by the story. They are saying that they were basically happy with the way the BBC conducted itself.

“I just cannot understand how they can say that in light of the report that has been published today.

“The BBC strategy now, having spent weeks saying that Lord Hutton was a man of impeccable integrity whose judgement should not be questioned, the strategy now is to question his judgement. I think that is wrong. I think they should just face the facts.”

Pointedly, he added: “Lord Hutton has set out the facts; the BBC should face them.”

“I think when people will read the report today they will see why I was so angry, because I was being accuse of conniving with the intelligence agencies to help the Prime Minister lie to Parliament and the public about the case for going to war in Iraq. I just think that is beyond the pale.

“It is terribly sad, because Gavyn Davies, until he really led the organisation which has sought to portray me as a liar, I would have said that Gavyn was a friend of mine.

Mr Campbell said it was dispiriting to see the Beeb in the “state” it was last night as “it will not face up to the facts and the truth that it says it is interested in broadcasting.”

Meanwhile, the Leader of the House of Commons, Peter Hain, took heart from the BBC’s reaction to the Hutton report yesterday.

Mr Hain said the BBC had reacted in a responsible fashion.

‘What this must not do is detract from generations of excellent broadcasting standards right across the world.’

‘I think what we saw of the BBC and particularly the Andrew Gilligan episode, which Lord Hutton has criticised in the most trenchant terms, was a lowering of those high standards to which we have become accustomed.

‘There was defective management and defective journalism in the BBC and Lord Hutton has made that abundantly clear and plain. I think it is up to the BBC how they handle that.”

Gavyn Davies criticised elements of Lord Hutton’s report in his resignation statement.