BBC launches inquiry into Humphrys speech

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The Independent Online

He is also accused of reopening the wounds over the "sexing up" of the Iraq intelligence report by claiming the BBC was right about it.

Humphrys, 62, allegedly made the comments during an after-dinner speech to the Communication Directors' Forum on 8 June. It is claimed that he made disparaging remarks about Tony Blair, John Prescott, Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown and Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's former communications chief. He also allegedly endorsed Andrew Gilligan's Today report, which accused the Government of using false intelligence to "sex up" Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

That broadcast led to a stand off between the BBC and Mr Campbell, culminating in the suicide of Dr David Kelly and the Hutton report, which heavily criticised the BBC. Humphrys apparently said: "The fact is, we got it right."

Humphrys said the claims made in The Times "grossly misrepresented" what he said. "Everything I said was meant with great affection for politicians," he said. "It was a good-humoured, light-hearted speech. I don't think that all politicians are liars."

A spokesman for the BBC's chairman, Michael Grade, said: "Michael Grade has seen reports of what John Humphrys may or may not have said and has asked the director general for a full report, including a transcript, as soon as possible."