Corporation bases case for defence on similarity of story told to three reporters

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The Independent Online

The BBC has stuck by its claim that it accurately reported Dr Kelly's briefing on the dossier. Part of its defence is that three reporters reached similar conclusions after speaking to him independently. Here is what they said and what Dr Kelly - the unnamed source who spoke through the voices of actors - is said to have told the journalists.

Andrew Gilligan, 'Today' 29 May

"I've spoken to a British official who was involved in the preparation of the dossier and he told me that in the week before it was published, the draft dossier produced by the intelligence services added little to what was already publicly known."

Source: "It was transformed in the week before it was published to make it sexier. The classic example was the claim that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes. That information was not in the original draft. It was included in the dossier against our wishes, because it wasn't reliable. Most of the things in the dossier were double-sourced, but that was single sourced and we believed that the source was wrong.

Gilligan: Now this official told me the dossier was transformed at the behest of Downing Street.

Source: Most people in intelligence were unhappy with the dossier because it didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward.

Gavin Hewitt, '10 O'Clock News' 29 May

I've spoken to one of those consulted on the dossier. Six months' work was apparently involved. In the final week before publication some material was taken out and some put in. His judgement, some spin from Number 10 did come into play. Even so the intelligence community remains convinced weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq.

Susan Watts, 'Newsnight' 2 June

We've spoken to a senior official involved with the process of pulling together the original September 2002 Blair weapons dossier. We cannot name this person because their livelihood depends on anonymity.

Our source made clear that in the run-up to publishing the dossier, the Government was obsessed with finding intelligence on immediate Iraqi threats. The Government's insistence the Iraqi threat was imminent was a Downing Street interpretation of intelligence conclusions. His point is that while the intelligence community was agreed on the potential Iraqi threat in the future, there was less agreement about the threat the Iraqis posed at that moment.

Source: That was the real concern - not so much what they had now, but what they would have in the future, but what, unfortunately, was not expressed strongly in the dossier, because that takes the case away for war - to a certain extent. But in the end it was just a flurry of activity and was very difficult to get comments in because people at the top of the ladder didn't want to hear some of the things.

Watts: Our source talks of a febrile atmosphere in the days of diplomacy leading to the big Commons debate of September last year. He also talks of the Government seizing on anything useful to the case, including the possible existence of weapons being ready within 45 minutes.

Source: It was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion. They were desperate for information, they were pushing hard for information which could be released. That was one that popped up and it was seized on and it's unfortunate that it was. That's why there is the argument between the intelligence services and the Cabinet Office/Number 10 - because they picked up on it and once they've picked up on it, you can't pull it back from them.