BBC report on 'sexed up' dossier is vindicated, says Dyke

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Greg Dyke and Andrew Gilligan seized on the findings of the Butler inquiry last night, insisting it vindicated the BBC's report that the controversial dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had been embellished.

Greg Dyke and Andrew Gilligan seized on the findings of the Butler inquiry last night, insisting it vindicated the BBC's report that the controversial dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had been embellished.

The BBC was the loser in its battle with the Government over the report by Mr Gilligan last year alleging that the September dossier had been "sexed up". Both Mr Gilligan and Mr Dyke, the Corporation's director general, left the BBC, as did its chairman, Gavyn Davies, after Lord Hutton's inquiry came down against them.

But yesterday Mr Dyke and Mr Gilligan expressed their belief that Lord Butler's inquiry had vindicated their stand in the face of the Government's aggressive assault on the BBC.

A defiant Mr Dyke said he would "defend forever" the decision to broadcast the report - based on the concerns of David Kelly, the late weapons scientist - which questioned the dossier's accuracy.

"If you go back to the very beginning, Dr Kelly told Andrew Gilligan the document had been 'sexed up' and one of the examples of it having been 'sexed up', the most significant example, was the 45-minute claim.

"Here, we are told today ... that the 45-minute claim should not have been in the document without a set of caveats, caveats that were there in early drafts and disappeared. The question is who took out the caveats? And it appears Butler doesn't tell us and nobody is owning up. The BBC was perfectly right to report Dr Kelly's allegations, Dr Kelly's concern," he told Channel 4 News. "That's why I am not at the BBC today, that's why Gavyn Davies is not at the BBC today and I would defend that decision forever," he said.

Earlier at a ceremony to collect an honourary degree from Sunderland University, Mr Dyke said: "I left the BBC after a very unpleasant battle with the Government and the publication of the Hutton report, a report which to this day makes very little sense to me. I think Hutton and I were living on different planets and attended a different inquiry." He said: "I will always defend the actions I took at the BBC when we were subject to such a vitriolic attack from the Government's director of communications [Alastair Campbell]. I do not do so uncritically, but my job was to defend the integrity and independence of the BBC and I believe I did that."

Paying tribute to the late scientist whose death sparked the Hutton inquiry, he said: "This weekend is the first anniversary of the death of Dr Kelly and he was a brave man, prepared to speak out when he discovered something which he believed was very wrong."

Meanwhile, Mr Gilligan said: "I am very pleased with Lord Butler's report, which supports much of what I already said - and what the Government has always denied. Although Lord Butler says he finds no evidence of deliberate embellishment or misleading, many of his findings of fact do exactly that."

He added: "Lord Butler finds that more weight was placed on the intelligence than it could bear; that the Joint Intelligence Committee's neutrality and objectivity were strained by the dossier process: and that the Joint Intelligence Committee chairman must be a person beyond influence. He finds that ministers misrepresented the quality, quantity and certainty of intelligence judgements to Parliament and the public."

He concluded: "I am pleased with Lord Butler's judgement but I am not triumphant or triumphalist. I recognise what Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell did not after their pyrrhic victory in January - that nobody in this saga behaved perfectly."

He said there was no doubt that the Government's behaviour was "far worse" than that of the BBC's or his own.

Lord Hutton concluded in January that the BBC's editorial checks were defective, criticised its management for not checking Mr Gilligan's notes and condemned the reporter for his "unfounded" claims.

His report triggered the worst crisis in the corporation's history, but also provoked anger among staff, hundreds of whom took to the streets in protest.

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