Journalist Andrew Gilligan quits BBC

Journalist Andrew Gilligan, whose story that the government had “sexed up” the risk from Iraqi weapons was criticised in an inquiry as unfounded, has resigned from the BBC. Mr Gilligan maintained in his resignation statement on Friday that his report that the government knowingly exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq to justify the war was mostly right.

“If Lord Hutton had fairly considered the evidence he heard, he would have concluded that most of my story was right. The government did sex up the dossier, transforming possibilities and probabilities into certainties, removing vital caveats,” he said.

Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, has acknowledged there may have been flaws in the intelligence.

Many people were shocked at Lord Hutton’s wholesale defense of the government in contrast to his criticism of the BBC. Anti-war campaigners from the Stop the War coalition are due to protest at Downing Street later on Saturday over what they describe as Lord Hutton’s “whitewash”.

Lord Hutton condemned BBC management procedures as “defective”, leading to the resignations of BBC Director General Greg Dyke on Thursday and chairman of the board of governors Gavyn Davies on Wednesday.

Following the BBC’s apology on Thursday, the Prime Minister declared an end to the feud.

The BBC’s acting director general Mark Byford would not comment directly on whether there would be more BBC resignations, telling BBC television late on Friday: “The BBC this week has faced the resignation of the chairman, the resignation of the director general, the resignation of that reporter. Now there is a still process going on involving others. It’ll be done as speedily as possible and that’s all I can say.”