Government adviser tells MPs he is not BBC source

Click to follow
Indy Politics

A senior Government adviser and weapons expert denied today that he was the source of the BBC story that a dossier on Iraq was "sexed up" by Downing Street.

David Kelly, a former weapons inspector, confirmed he had met Today programme defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan at a hotel in central London in February to discuss Iraq's capability.

But asked by MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee whether he believed he was the anonymous contact in Mr Gilligan's story, he said: "No."

He added he could not see how Mr Gilligan had put together the story from his comments.

The BBC has refused to confirm whether Dr Kelly was the source of the 29 May story on Today programme.

Mr Gilligan has told the committee that he had a number of contacts he had met to discuss Iraq's weapons.

Dr Kelly told the committee: "I believe I am not the main source. From the conversation I had I don't see how he could make the statements he was making from the comments that I made."

Dr Kelly was asked whether the "C–word" – referring to Alastair Campbell – had arisen during his meeting with Mr Gilligan at the Charing Cross Hotel.

The "Campbell word" did come up in the conversation but it had been Mr Gilligan who first mentioned it, he told the committee, which has reopened its inquiry into the decision to go to war in Iraq.

In evidence to the committee last month Mr Gilligan said his contact for the story had told him a claim that Saddam Hussein could launch a chemical or biological weapon in 45 minutes had been inserted by No10 to strengthen the case for war.

The journalist said he asked his source who had asked for the claim to be inserted, who replied "Campbell".

But Dr Kelly said: "It doesn't sound like the thing that I would say."

Mr Gilligan had described his contact for the May 29 story as a "source of longstanding and I described him in the broadcast as one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier".

In his evidence today Dr Kelly insisted he had only met Mr Gilligan twice, once in September 2002 and the hotel meeting in February.