Hutton Inquiry Who's Who
In July 2003 the British Government asked Lord Hutton "urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Kelly." Dr. David Kelly had become the center of a battle between the Blair government and the BBC over the accuracy of the reports presented by the government in the lead up to war with Iraq. As many of the players will not be familiar to American audiences, a who's who of the key players is below. (Review a timeline of the scandal and inquiry.)
Dr. David Kelly
Andrew Gilligan, BBC Reporter
The Hutton Inquiry was spawned by the July 17, 2003 suicide of Dr. Kelly. The week before he had been questioned at a
televised hearing of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee about an
unauthorized interview he had given to a BBC journalist in May. That report, by Andrew Gilligan was publically questioned in the Foreign Affairs hearing and began a battle between the Prime Minister's office and the BBC. Kelly had worked for the Ministry of Defence for almost twenty years, and had been
one of the British government's leading experts in chemical and biological
warfare. During the nineteen-nineties, he had served as a United Nations weapons
inspector in Iraq. The Hutton Inquiry found that Kelly's suicide was not the responsibility of any third party.
In an early-morning broadcast of the BBC's TODAY in May 2003 Andrew Gilligan made the contention that the Blair government "sexed-up" the Iraq WMD dossier. Gilligan also suggested that the Prime Minister and key staff knew that the claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes was wrong before the publication of a September 2002 dossier. The Prime Minister's office quickly fired back, demanding a retraction from the BBC. The search for Mr. Gilligan's sources put intense pressure on Ministry of Defence scientist David Kelly. The Hutton Inquiry called Gilligan's report "unfounded." He has since resigned from the BBC.
The BBC is one of the premier news and broadcasting organizations in the world. Founded as the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in 1922, the company was to establish a nationwide network of radio transmitters to provide a national broadcasting service. In 1927, the BBC assumed its current form when it was granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation. The Charter created an autonomous corporation run by a board of governors appointed by the incumbent government for a term of four years. According to its mission statement, "the BBC is run in the interests of its viewers and listeners. BBC governors differ from directors of public companies, whose primary responsibilities are to shareholders and not consumers. BBC governors represent the public interest, notably the interests of viewers and listeners." For many years the BBC held a monopoly over television and radio in the United Kingdom and its importance in the realms of British and international news cannot be underestimated. Since the BBC relies on public funding the recent battle with the Blair government was especially bitter.
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair has been in office since 1997 when the Labour Party was returned to power after 18 years in opposition. Blair coined the term "New Labour" to define the removal from the Labour Party's constitution a commitment to public ownership of "each industry and service." Blair was re-elected with another landslide majority in the 2001 General Election. Controversy over Blair's decision to join the U.S.-led coalition resulted in one of the largest protests in British history and Blair was subject to harsh questioning in Parliament. Tony Blair was been cleared in the Hutton Inquiry of any "dishonourable, underhand or duplicitous" conduct in the lead-up to the death of David Kelly.
Alastair Campbell, communications chief for Prime Minister Blair, was a central figure in the WMD scandal and the Hutton Inquiry. It was Campbell who was implicated in the charge that the WMD dossier had been embellished to make a greater case for going to war with Iraq. It was Campbell who pushed for a correction by the BBC. As the debate over the story heated up, Campbell was also blamed for the release of Dr. David Kelly's name as Gilligan's source for the questioned story to the public. When Campbell appeared before the Hutton inquiry he denied that the government attempted to "sex up" the Iraq dossier against the wishes of the intelligence community and maintained that he was not responsible for the release of Dr. Kelly's name to the public. Campbell received a favorable assessment in the Hutton Report, although Lord Hutton did express concerns that Campbell had "made it clear... on behalf of the prime minister that 10 Downing Street wanted the dossier to be worded to make as strong a case as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD." Campbell has since resigned his post.
As Lord of Appeal in Ordinary,
Lord Hutton was appointed by the prime minister to head the inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of David Kelly in July 2003. Hearings opened on August 12, 2003. After interviewing over 70 witnesses during 22 days of hearings Hutton said that he was satisfied that the scientist had taken his own life. The Inquiry also cleared the Blair government of suggestions that it had knowingly presented false testimony in relation to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Geoff Hoon, Ministry of Defence
As head of the government department responsible for weapons policy and David Kelly's employer, Geoff Hoon was questioned by Lord Hutton about the way Ministry of Defence officials handled Dr. Kelly in the days before his suicide. The final Hutton report found some fault in the Ministry's failure to warn Dr. Kelly that they would confirm him as the source of the debated Gilligan story if a journalist suggested Kelly's involvement.
Greg Dyke became Director-General of the BBC in January 2000, having joined the previous year as Deputy Director-General and Director-General designate. He resigned as Director-General on January 29, 2004, soon after the results of the Hutton Inquiry were released to the public. BBC employees took out full-page ads in newspapers and rallied in support of Dyke in the wake of his resignation.
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