A surprisingly bright light has been shone upon the workings of government and the BBC

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The Independent Online
When Lord Hutton opened his inquiry he declared: "I should emphasise that this is an inquiry. It is not a trial between interested parties who have conflicting cases to advance. I do not sit to decide between conflicting cases. It is to investigate the circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly's death."</p>Lord Hutton has been skilful in his handling of the hearings so far, limiting his interventions to some pertinent questions. The counsel questioning witnesses has been similarly impressive. Yet, despite Lord Hutton's invocations, there has inevitably been a focus in the first week of the inquiry on whether the BBC's case or the Government's case is winning out, witness by witness, day by day.</p>The Hutton inquiry has been a more dynamic and revelatory affair than assumed. It has also produced surprising insights into the private lives of some of our great national institutions - the prime ministership, the Ministry of Defence, the BBC. Normally we would have to wait until 2033 to read all these memos. Indeed, it could be said that we learned more in a week about the workings of this government than in the previous six years of its existence. It has not emerged with unalloyed credit.</p>It is relatively simple to identify the principal loser: the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon. Of course Mr Hoon has yet to present his side of the story. But it is difficult to see how he can reasonably justify his decision to overrule the strong advice of his permanent secretary, Sir Kevin Tebbit, that Dr Kelly should not be made to appear before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee as well as the Intelligence and Security Committee. Sir Kevin's memo was compassionate and, as things turned out, was wise advice to flow: "A further reason is to show some regard for the man himself. He has come forward voluntarily, is not used to being thrust into the public eye, and is not on trial. It does not seem unreasonable to ask the FAC to show restraint and accept the ISC hearing as being sufficient."</p>Mr Hoon was having none of that, apparently for "presentational reasons". A further clue may lie in the testimony of Bryan Wells, Dr Kelly's line manager in the civil service, that Mr Hoon was in touch with Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff. Did Mr Powell approve of the MoD revealing Dr Kelly's name? Did Mr Powell or Mr Campbell, the Government's director of communications, discuss with it with Mr Blair? No doubt they will tell Lord Hutton the truth when they appear before the inquiry early next week.</p>Indeed, next week promises to reveal a good deal more about Number 10's knowledge of the Kelly affair. We already know that Mr Blair wanted Dr Kelly to be given a tough second grilling by the security services, as suggested by the chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Sir John Scarlett.</p>Lord Hutton has been given some of the drafts of the September dossier, and counsel should be able to use these as an effective base to discover from the Downing Street staff whether the dossier had indeed been "transformed" or "sexed up" and at whose behest.</p>This is what Mr Campbell told the Foreign affairs select committee: "The story that I 'sexed up' the dossier is untrue: the story that I 'put pressure on the intelligence agencies' is untrue: the story that we somehow made much more of the 45 minute command and control point than the intelligence agencies thought was suitable is untrue." And yet we now know that it was not only Dr Kelly who was unhappy; other senior civil servants shared his concerns about the construction of the Government's case for war on Iraq. True, Sir John Scarlett and the Joint Intelligence Committee signed off the dossier, but was the committee going out of its way to be helpful to its political masters and, in some cases it seems, friends? Did they have reservations? Why weren't the more negative intelligence reports about Iraqi weaponry that the former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has spoken about also included in the dossier?</p>Although the Government has been damaged by much of what was exposed to public gaze last week, the BBC has not automatically benefited. As with the Government, the question of reputation needs to be disaggregated. Andrew Gilligan, for example, has fared surprisingly well, given the description of him by the chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Donald Anderson, as unreliable. He did not seem so at the Hutton inquiry. His worst crime would appear to be misusing one word in one broadcast. Some of his bosses at the BBC praised him; some complained, but none truly damned him. Susan Watts, the Newsnight</i> science correspondent, however did truly damn her bosses, suggesting that they attempted to railroad her into a "line" supporting Mr Gilligan's journalism.</p>Fear, loathing and bureaucratic intrigue: the BBC and Government have more in common than we thought. </p>

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