One death, five versions. Now is the time for Lord Hutton to judge

Counsel for key players offered closing submissions yesterday. Who will take the blame in the David Kelly affair?
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Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, was described as a liar and a hypocrite by the lawyer for the family of David Kelly yesterday as the Hutton inquiry heard its closing statements.

Jeremy Gompertz, QC, accused the Government of treating the weapons expert as a "pawn" in its dispute with the BBC over the allegation that Downing Street "sexed up" a dossier on Iraqi weapons.

He said Mr Hoon had been an "enthusiastic supporter" of naming Dr Kelly as the BBC's source and said there was a "cynical abuse of power" in the MoD's treatment of the weapons expert in the days leading up to his death.

Lawyers representing the Government, the BBC and Dr Kelly's family sought yesterday to apportion blame for the scientist's death. After a brief final session on Tuesday, Lord Hutton will retire to write his report, which he expects to publish by December.

Yesterday's submissions left Mr Hoon looking more vulnerable than ever. Observers believe he will be forced to resign unless Lord Hutton acquits him of the charges levelled at him. Although Mr Blair will be anxiously awaiting the law lord's findings, his position looks more secure after he escaped personal criticism.

Lord Hutton may spread blame widely and Dr Kelly may not be immune from criticism for his unauthorised meeting with the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. Mr Gompertz said it was not the Kelly family's aim to seek "revenge or individual scapegoats''. But they wanted lessons to be learnt, and to expose the "duplicity" of the Government and the "systematic failures" of the MoD in its handling of Dr Kelly.

He dismissed as risible a claim by Richard Hatfield, the MoD's personnel director, that the scientist had been given "outstanding" support and accused him of trying to portray Dr Kelly as the "author of his own misfortune".

Mr Gompertz said: "The Government and the nation have lost their greatest expert in biological weapons of mass destruction, yet he was characterised by his employers to suit their needs of the hour as a middle-ranking official.''

Mr Hoon's denials that he was involved in a strategy to name Dr Kelly as the BBC's source had been exposed as "hypocrisy" by the diary entries of Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's director of communications, Mr Gompertz said. "They indicate with clarity ... that the Secretary of State's denials of the Government's strategy, put to him in cross-examination, were false.''

Andrew Caldecott, QC, for the BBC, acknowledged mistakes in its reporting, but accused Mr Hoon of "cynical indifference" in his failure to correct press reports suggesting that Iraq could deploy longer range weapons within 45 minutes when it related only to battlefield weapons. "It is hard to put it down to anything other than political expedience,'' he said.

Jonathan Sumption, QC, counsel for the Government, insisted that Dr Kelly had no right to anonymity.

The different viewpoints on the main issues

The Kelly family - Jeremy Gombertz QC

Dr Kelly, the expert

"He worked faithfully for the MoD and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office all his life. He achieved great eminence in his field both nationally and on behalf of the United Nations. He served his country loyally and with distinction. All the while he remained a modest, retiring man who never sought the limelight."

Conduct of the BBC

He Attacked Radio 4's Today programme for trying to "make the news as opposed to reporting it". Unlike the Government, the BBC has been "prepared to make admissions and accept criticism".

Government actions

"The duplicity of the Government in their handling of Dr Kelly should be exposed. If there was a strategy to out him so he could be used as a witness to undermine Mr Gilligan in furtherance of the Government's dispute, this was a cynical abuse of power which deserves the strongest possible condemnation."

Gilligan's reports

"Mr Gilligan has proved himself an unreliable historian ... no credence should be given to his evidence save where it is corroborated from an independent source."

Mr Gilligan's account of Dr Kelly's words are "inconsistent" with his personal organiser, his broadcast and his Mail on Sunday article.

The Iraq dossier

"With the exception of the 'Walter Mitty' slur, the Government and the MoD do not accept that any criticism should be made of any Government action."

Naming of Dr Kelly

"Dr Kelly was kept in the dark about the strategy that No 10 and the MoD had developed to confirm his name to journalists. Common decency required that Dr Kelly be kept informed. Never again should a civil servant be publicly named if there is an alternative route."

Who is to blame?

Support from the MoD was "feeble". "His public exposure must have brought about a total loss of self-esteem, a feeling people had lost trust in him. No wonder Dr Kelly felt betrayed after giving his life to the service of his country. No wonder he was broken-hearted."

The Government - Jonathan Sumption QC

Dr Kelly, the expert

"By no stretch of the imagination could Dr Kelly be described as one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier. He was not.

He was simply one of many people who were in a position to comment on areas within their own specialised expertise.''

Conduct of the BBC

"The BBC seem to have regarded this as a routine piece of political mud slinging, chatter in the air. It seems to have been thought that the BBC could shoot off its fireworks and then steal away. The dogs would bark, the caravan would move on, nobody would pay any more attention.''

Government actions

"The Government is not and never has been engaged in a crusade against the BBC, nor are any of the ministers or officials whom I represent. Dr Kelly was an extremely self-contained person, he kept his feelings to himself and that very fact meant that he was not an easy person to help.''

Gilligan's reports

"Allegations broadcast by Mr Gilligan were, in fact, a travesty; either Mr Gilligan's source was laying claim to knowledge which he could not have and Mr Gilligan had failed, properly, to check out his status, or else Mr Gilligan had greatly exaggerated what he had been told.''

The Iraq dossier

"Whether [the intelligence assessments] were right or wrong is not the issue. The Government was told by the JIC and the intelligence agencies ... the Saddam regime was perceived to have a significant chemical and biological weapons programme." No reason why the dossier should not be strengthened if backed up by intelligence.

Naming of Dr Kelly

"There is no constitutional principle that civil servants are entitled to anonymity. The Government had no obligation to keep Dr Kelly's name secret and Dr Kelly had no right to expect them to do so.''

Who is to blame?

"We are in danger of learning the wrong lessons. Dr Kelly's death is undoubtedly a tragedy for his family ... but it is perfectly possible ... to express genuine sympathy to his family, as we do, without at once turning aside in order to hunt for other people to blame.''

The BBC - Andrew Caldecott QC

Dr Kelly, the expert

"He was clearly a principled man. If he thought in an area where his two special subjects converged, Iraq and WMD, that the public were being misled, he would most likely have deeply resented it. For these various reasons Dr Kelly was and appeared to be an important and credible source."

Conduct of the BBC

"There is a modern mantra: never apologise, never explain. Because you invite the taunt: you admit it now, why not earlier? That approach is to ignore one simple point, that those who do not admit mistakes are unlikely ever to learn from them."

Government actions

"This stampede tactic [of Alastair Campbell's letters to the BBC] was not a dignified way for a Government to behave nor was it the action of someone interested in compromise or a considered response. He could have pursued a complaint with the BBC through the Programme Complaints Unit."

Gilligan's reports

"Dr Kelly did say that the dossier was sexed up by Mr Campbell, that the classic example of this transformation was the 45-minutes claim, that most people in intelligence were not happy with the 45-minutes claim because it did not reflect the considered view they were putting forward."

The Iraq dossier

"You do not need to be a student of obscure phrases to know that a statement that Iraq may be able to launch WMD within 45 minutes is very different from a statement that they are able to. Politics had started to enter the bloodstream of the dossier."

Naming of Dr Kelly

"The governors and BBC declined to accede to a Government request on 8 July to disclose the identity of their source to the Government in confidence. It was a strange kind of confidentiality, since almost at that exact time the naming of Dr Kelly was in close consideration in high government circles."

Who is to blame?

"While some people saw or perhaps should have seen some of the pressures Dr Kelly was under, it was always going to be a very partial view. The BBC accepts that nobody in Government or the BBC or the Civil Service had an inkling of all the pressures he was under."

Andrew Gilligan - Heather Rogers QC

Dr Kelly, the expert

"David Kelly had vast experience on Iraq and WMD. We have heard in this inquiry about David Kelly's knowledge and experience, how he was valued and respected by his colleagues. He was a very credible and authoritative source."

Conduct of the BBC

"Andrew Gilligan will ask this inquiry to recognise that he was right to talk to David Kelly and that he was right to ask him about the September dossier, and that he was right to regard what David Kelly said as worth reporting and right to report it. And this is because the public, all of us, had a right to know what David Kelly had to say."

Government actions

"[Alastair Campbell] and Geoff Hoon agreed, when they learnt that the source had come forward, that this was an opportunity to get Gilligan. Of course, 'get' is not exactly the word Mr Campbell used in his diary. The response is like that of a playground bully. But this is not a playground, they are senior officials in the Government."

Gilligan's reports

"Andrew Gilligan was not writing a legal document. He was not preparing a court transcript. He was reporting what he had been told. He, and the other experienced journalists on the Today team, viewed the report as a valuable contribution to a continuing political debate."

The Iraq dossier

"David Kelly and others thought [the 45-minute claim] was wrong, that the intelligence was unreliable, that it had been misinterpreted. The statement had been included in the dossier against the wishes of David Kelly and others."

Naming of Dr Kelly

"Unlike the Government, Mr Gilligan tried to protect Dr Kelly's anonymity. There was no prospect of naming David Kelly in the broadcast. His position meant that it was not possible for him to go on the record as the source. He had spoken on an unattributable basis and Andrew Gilligan had a duty to protect his source."

Who is to blame?

"This inquiry is concerned with the circumstances that led to his death. In a narrow sense that could be said to focus on the events of a single day, but the issues under consideration here have been much wider ... as a result of a decision to go to war many other lives have been lost."

The inquiry - James Dingemans QC

Dr Kelly, the expert

"[The psychiatrist] said that a major factor that is likely to have contributed to Dr Kelly's decision to commit suicide is the severe loss of self-esteem resulting, as he saw it, from his feeling that his employers had lost their trust in him. It is also plain that Dr Kelly's actions were not foreseeable to any party."

Conduct of the BBC

"The BBC's view was that their whole independence was under attack and that it was appropriate to respond as strongly as possible."

Government actions

"It is plain that there was acute concern within the Government. On the other hand, it is also fair to note that the BBC say that political debates before 29 May had already raised issues of lies, both from backbenchers and in newspapers."

Gilligan's reports

"It is plain ... that Dr Kelly did not say that the Government probably knew that the 45-minutes claim was false before it was put in the dossier.

"There is no doubt that the word 'Campbell' meaning Mr Campbell, was raised. However, Dr Kelly's account was that Mr Gilligan had raised Mr Campbell's name"

The Iraq dossier

"There is some evidence that in order to make the case for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Downing Street wanted the dossier to be as strong as possible ... But there was a fine line between showing the evidence and making a case."

Naming of Dr Kelly

"Well, there is some evidence suggesting that the Government were interested in using committees to get Dr Kelly's name out into the public."

Who is to blame?

"There is little doubt that there were elements of discretion involved in the system [of informing the Government of his press contacts]".

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