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The Hutton Report

January 28, 2004 at 12:00 AM EDT


TERENCE SMITH: After months of collecting evidence, Judge Lord Hutton cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair of any direct involvement in the suicide of David Kelly. The report followed the biggest crisis of the prime minister’s seven years in office.

LORD BRIAN HUTTON: I consider that there was no such dishonorable, underhanded, or duplicitous strategies as devised by the prime minister or his officials.

TERENCE SMITH: Hutton was appointed by Blair to investigate Kelly’s death. Kelly killed himself after he was revealed as the source of a BBC report that Britain exaggerated or “sexed up” prewar claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to bolster support for the war.

In a nationally televised speech, Hutton did take aim at the government-supported BBC for its reporting of the scandal that shook the British leadership.

And Blair quickly joined in the criticism of the network, while addressing the House of Commons.

TONY BLAIR: The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House, or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, is itself the real lie.

And I simply ask that those that made it, and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it fully, openly and clearly.

TERENCE SMITH: Today, the chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies, resigned, and apologized for some of its reporting on the buildup to the war in Iraq. Director General Greg Dyke spoke for the BBC.

GREG DYKE: We note Lord Hutton’s criticisms of the BBC. Many of these relate to mistakes which the BBC has already acknowledged in its submissions to the inquiry and for which we have already expressed regret. At no stage in the last eight months have we accused the prime minister of lying, and we have said this publicly on several occasions.

TERENCE SMITH: While the Blair government was largely freed from blame, Hutton said defense ministry officials could have given Kelly more help when they confirmed his identity to the media, but he said Kelly was an intensely private man and “not easy to help.”