The resignation of Alastair Campbell is not going to lead to any immediate reciprocal action from the BBC, sources at the corporation said last night.
But BBC insiders conceded that the resignation of Downing Street's director of communications and strategy had provided the Government with "a sacrificial lamb", as widely expected. A source said: "The feeling here is that him going now means that the Government won't have to offer a sacrificial lamb when the report comes out. So it means that Hoon and Blair have saved their skins."
The focus is now on the BBC to make some gesture to restore its long-term relations with the Government.
David Docherty, former deputy director of television at the BBC, predicted that the corporation might review its guidelines and "tighten up" its procedures as a way of moving on from the affair. "That could be the quid pro quo. They could say we are the world's premier broadcaster and we will make sure we won't make these mistakes again," he said.
Mr Docherty said such a move would help the BBC to move beyond Hutton to the "infinitely more important" issue of charter renewal.
But the BBC may have to go further than that. Andrew Gilligan, the BBC Radio 4 reporter whose broadcast started the affair, will face an inquiry into why he e-mailed third parties to say David Kelly was the source of a BBC colleague's report. One BBC journalist said: "No one here knows why [Gilligan] hasn't gone already except that it would look bad for the BBC."
Pressure will fall on the role of the board of governors, particularly its determination to give full backing to a report that, by the BBC's own admission, was "flawed". Richard Sambrook, the BBC's head of news, could also be vulnerable, having assured the board of the integrity of the report, broadcast on the Today programme.
Sir Paul Fox, a former managing director of the BBC, told Radio 4's The World at One: "I think what is clear now is the governors were a little hasty in clearing the Today programme of any misdemeanour," .
¿ Documents released by the Hutton inquiry last night reveal that the Today presenter John Humphrys was criticised by the BBC's board of governors for his "inappropriate" tone of voice during the report which claimed the Government had "sexed up" its Iraqi weapons dossier. Minutes of an emergency board meeting on 6 July also show concern that the Government was given insufficient opportunity to reply.Reuse content