The Sketch: Intelligence source was not so much a Deep Throat - more a Sore Throat

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The Independent Online

Rearrange the following words and phrases into a well known conspiracy: Andrew Gilligan. Alastair Campbell. Deployable in 45 minutes. Dossier. Sexed-up. Single source. Dressed in women's clothing with sheer silk stockings.

Right. The fellow in front of the committee who looked so like Harold Shipman was actually Dr Kelly. He is the Ministry of Defence character who put his hand up as the BBC's intelligence source, the one that had caused the Government such trouble during the past few weeks and months. He emerged, blinking into the spotlight last week saying he was the fellow that Mr Gilligan had met in the Charing Cross hotel. The BBC's whole claim that intelligence dossiers had been sexed up rested on what he'd allegedly told Mr Gilligan, and here he was with the most damaging accusations: He'd never said anything like it.

He wasn't so much a Deep Throat as a Sore Throat; we couldn't hear him at all. They turned off the fans in the room to make him more audible but then he was scarcely visible through the heat haze. War reporting is hell, you know

What we heard sounded very damaging to the BBC. Dr Kelly had had nothing to do with the editing or production of the dossier. He couldn't have known whether or not the claims were inserted to sex it up. He'd only met Mr Gilligan to get a briefing on the fellow's recent experiences in Iraq. The words ascribed to him "didn't sound like" him. He recognised one remark - that there was a 30 per cent chance Iraq possessed WMD. That alone sounded like the sort of thing he might possibly have said.

So far so bad for the BBC, so very bad. Then the tide turned, like in a courtroom drama. John Maples asked him whether he'd known about the Niger nuclear story before the dossier was published. He hadn't. Nor had he known about the 45-minute claim ... so he couldn't have been the person Andrew Gilligan had been referring to. Richard Ottaway made the point more forcefully. It is impossible you were that person, he said. "It is difficult to be that strong," Dr Kelly replied. But being led by the hand through it again he unhappily agreed that Mr Ottaway must indeed be right."The description Mr Gilligan gave of his source bore no relation to yourself," Sir John Stanley began, and finished with: "Why did you feel it incumbent on yourself to be thrown to the wolves - to the media and this committee?" "You're chaff! You're the fall guy!" Andrew Mackinlay cried.

"You were being exploited to rubbish Mr Gilligan," John Stanley said in his implacable manner. Dr Kelly had written his confessional letter on the 30th of June, and his managers and ministers delayed going public with the claims until after the committee had published its report. They were hopping mad, it must be said, and that's probably why.

"Do you feel in any way used?" that fierce fowl, Donald Anderson asked, eyes glittering and flickering, like the creature at the top of the pecking order.

"I accept that it happened," Dr Kelly said, helplessly. The poor fellow.

Whatever his doctorate is in, it's definitely not spin.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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