'Panorama' criticises Davies, Dyke and Gilligan

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Indy Politics

BBC infighting over the David Kelly affair spilled into the open when Panorama accused corporation bosses yesterday of choosing to "bet the farm on a shaky foundation".

John Ware, the investigative reporter who made last night's film, saidthose who had backed Andrew Gilligan, the defence correspondent for Radio 4's Today programme, should have realised key elements of his broadcast were flawed.

His comments are directed at Gavyn Davies, the chairman of the BBC, and Greg Dyke, the director general, both of whom made a staunch defence of Mr Gilligan's reports in evidence to the Hutton inquiry. Richard Sambrook, the BBC's director of news, also stood by theToday reporter.

Lord Hutton is expected to be highly critical of the BBC's failure to investigate fully Gilligan's claims, taking on trust many of his assertions. The corporation has tried to pre-empt the report by banning broadcasters from writing articles for newspapers.

But it faces the possibility that it will be told to overhaul the role of its board of governors, together with some pointed criticism of its management of the aftermath of the Gilligan story. The Today reporter made clear to Lord Hutton's inquiry he regretted making the original claim that Downing Street had inserted the 45-minute claim against the wishes of the intelligence services. He also apologised for e-mailing MPs on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee with information suggesting that Dr Kelly was also the source of reports by Newsnight's Susan Watts.

It was a question by David Chidgey, a Liberal Democrat MP on the committee, about his contacts with Ms Watts that most worried Dr Kelly. Many believe that the scientist's realisation that he had misled MPs about his conversations with Ms Watts was the trigger for his apparent suicide.

Newsnight's rivalry with the Today programme was also exposed by the Kelly affair, with the two programmes at one stage appearing to brief against each other on the accuracy of the Gilligan story.

Mr Sambrook is also likely to be criticised for giving The Times information about the identity of Mr Gilligan's source. A report on 5 July prompted the Ministry of Defence to pursue Dr Kelly's case further.

The BBC said a transcript of the Panorama programme was disclosed to Lord Hutton while the inquiry was sitting.

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