Gilligan accuses BBC of going soft on Blair

Andrew Gilligan, the journalist at the centre of the row that brought down Greg Dyke as director-general of the BBC, claimed yesterday that the corporation had softened its approach to investigating the Government.

At a lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Mr Gilligan accused BBC Radio 4's Today programme, on which he was defence correspondent, of no longer breaking big political stories.

"The programme does seem to have lost at least half of its reporters and there seems to be a trend of moving story-breaking journalism off daily news programmes and into less watched or heard programmes in current affairs," he said.

He said that although investigative journalism continued to thrive at the BBC, "there just haven't been any high-profile, ground-breaking investigations of the Government".

The former BBC correspondent, who resigned after the official report into the affair, used the lecture to accuse the report's author, Lord Hutton, of being a "Guantanamo judge" who had made an "utterly unbalanced judgment".

Mr Gilligan said: "Hutton and his report have been discredited, even ridiculed, and they deserve to be. He will live in history as a landmark of judicial incompetence and bias."

He claimed that if his story had been examined by a libel jury it would have been vindicated. "The only real difference between my story and hundreds of other stories - our unique misfortune - was the fact that our every action was subjected to microscopic scrutiny in hindsight by a Guantanamo judge," he said.

"Very few pieces of journalism would have survived such a process entirely unscathed." He said his story had been "one of the more accurate accounts of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability".

By contrast, the dossier compiled by the intelligence services on Saddam Hussein's arsenal had been exposed as "stable-floor sweepings from second-hand sources".

Mr Gilligan said: "That legendary dossier was the rough equivalent, for a journalist, of writing a front-page news story based on something your minicab driver heard down the pub in 1995. Except, of course, that no news story ever became part of a case for killing 20,000 people."

He said his report had had "far more serious consequences for the BBC than it merited" and that his contentious comment in an infamous 6.07am two-way interview with John Humphrys had become "the most ridiculously over-analysed sentence in recent broadcasting history".

The BBC governors had "panicked", he said. "Unlike the rest of us, who've been held to account for our failings, the governors are still there," said Mr Gilligan, who is now working as a print journalist.

Mr Gilligan's comments dominated the second day of the festival in which Channel 4's new chief executive, Andy Duncan, admitted the broadcaster is looking at entering into a commercial partnership with the BBC for the first time.

Mr Duncan suggested Channel 4 and the BBC were natural bedfellows, adding that they could save money by working together in education and new media and sharing back-office functions.

Meanwhile, in a panel debate on chequebook journalism two of the world's most famous mistresses - Monica Lewinsky and Rebecca Loos - shared a platform in defence of the paid television interview.

Ms Loos revealed for the first time that she was paid £120,000 by Sky One for an interview following her alleged affair with David Beckham.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project