Peter Hain, Leader of the Commons, said yesterday that it was "absurd" to think that David Kelly's name could have been kept secret once the media were on his trail.
Mr Hain made the claim as MPs decided not to publish transcripts of evidence from Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who alleged the Government had "sexed up" its intelligence on the Iraqi threat.
The Foreign Affairs Select Committee decided instead to hand over any documents, including the transcript of Mr Gilligan's private evidence, requested by the Hutton inquiry.
Robin Cook, the former Foreign Secretary, today accuses the Government of launching a "jihad" against the BBC and of ignoring Tony Blair's plea for restraint after Dr Kelly's death.
Writing in The Independent, Mr Cook says that Whitehall briefings have been "deeply distasteful and disrespectful" in seeking to turn the Hutton inquiry into "some kind of high noon in the war between the Government and the BBC".
Mr Cook and Mr Hain called for a "new deal" between politicians and media in which government would cut spin while the press did more to report substance. At a seminar hosted by the IPPR, a left-leaning think-tank, Mr Hain said: "With the media pack in full cry, the very idea David Kelly's name could have been kept secret is absurd. If it hadn't emerged, doubtless the media would have spun it into a cover-up story, with endless speculation on the Today programme as to why."
Oliver Letwin, the shadow home secretary, saw Mr Hain's remarks as proof that the Government had a responsibility for Dr Kelly's death. "This comes very close indeed to an admission that the Ministry of Defence led journalists to Dr Kelly. If that is true it would be very damaging indeed."Reuse content