Plans to publish Gilligan evidence postponed

Plans to publish evidence given in secret by the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee have been postponed at his request.

As Tony Blair faced the fall-out over the suicide of scientist Dr David Kelly, the committee chairman Donald Anderson said the committee had decided "reluctantly" not to make Mr Gilligan's evidence public.

Dr Kelly's death presented the Prime Minister with the gravest crisis of his career during a marathon diplomatic trip in the Far East.

Mr Gilligan wrote to Mr Anderson to request that his evidence was not made public and BBC chairman Gavyn Davies also wrote a letter.

In a statement Mr Anderson said: "At the private evidence sessions with Andrew

Gilligan on 17 July, the committee stated to Mr Gilligan that it would wish to publish the full transcript of evidence, and Mr Gilligan agreed that should be done.

"After the meeting, I said that the transcript would be made available as soon as the witness, in accordance with normal practice, had been given an opportunity to correct any errors of transcription.

"It was intended that the transcript would be available for public release by the end of this week.

"Subsequently, I received a letter from Mr Gilligan, asking that the transcript should not be brought into the public domain.

"I have also received a private communication from the chairman of the BBC, which has to remain confidential."

Mr Anderson continued: "In the light of these considerations, the committee has reluctantly decided not to publish the transcript of Mr Gilligan's evidence of 17 July, at the present time.

"However, the committee will make the full transcript available to Lord Hutton's inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, if the inquiry so requests.

"Furthermore, it is the committee's intention to place the transcript in the public domain at the earliest appropriate moment."

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