Iraq, if you can bear any more
Kevin Marsh, in his latest blog post in our exchange about the libel he broadcast when he edited the BBC Today programme in 2003, adopts the usual tactic of Tony Blair’s accusers. When challenged, they redefine the allegation.
Having previously accepted that Andrew Gilligan’s original report was untrue, a “huge error” and a “very, very serious mistake”, and having fallen back on the more carefully-worded scripted version, he now defends this second version by citing things that it did not say.
Thus the Iraq dossier was “sexed up” by the addition of a foreword by the Prime Minister.
That was not what the Today programme alleged in May 2003. Even in the scripted version, it claimed:
What I have been told is that the Government knew that claim [the 45 minutes] was questionable, even before the war, even before they wrote it in their dossier.
“Questionable” was an improvement on “wrong” (in Gilligan’s unscripted report); all intelligence is questionable, I suppose. But the implication was that it was “not reliable” (the phrase Marsh uses now) and that the Government knew it was unreliable, but that “they wrote it in their dossier” anyway.
Thus the BBC alleged, even in the scripted version (and it had not disowned the unscripted one at the time) that the Government – that is, Blair and Alastair Campbell – intervened to write things in the dossier against the better judgement of the spies. This is not the case. The 45 minutes point came from the spies and was put in the dossier by them. This is well known. It is a shame that anyone involved in one of the BBC’s worst moments should persist in asserting otherwise.
Picture: an Iraqi marsh.Tagged in: blair rage, hutton inquiry, hutton report, iraq, iraq war, kevin marsh
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter