28 Jan 04. Lord Hutton today delivered the worst possible verdict for the BBC, describing its editorial systems as “defective” and declaring that the board of governors led by chairman Gavyn Davies had failed in its duty to act as an independent regulator.
The judge lambasted BBC management for allowing the Radio 4 Today reporter Andrew Gilligan to broadcast “unfounded”, “grave” and “false allegations of fact impugning the integrity of others”.
It was all very well to lambaste the BBC in its failure to monitor Andrew Gilligan’s statement’s on radio, but BATTLESPACE believes that this report highlights a growing and worrying gap in knowledge of the defence industry and its technology in government and the press.
By it’s very nature, defence technology today is becoming more and more complicated, drawing on technologies which very few have a complete understanding and/or working knowledge of. Early last year the Editor was approached by Chrysalis Books on a subject ‘Future War’ as a book. It rapidly became apparent that the Chrysalis Editor concerned and indeed the Publishers themselves had no knowledge of the subject in question, expecting the Editor of BATTLESPACE to carry the can for their Walter Mitty ideas!
Thus when Andrew Gilligan met Dr David Kelly to discuss such a complex and detailed subject as WMD and Chemical weapons, the likelihood was, given his past experience in defence and previous copy that he would get some of the content wrong, which he did.
The Governors of the BBC could not spot this anomaly as they themselves had no knowledge of the subject. As Menzies Campbell M.P. told BATTLESPACE today that this was a disaster for the BBC waiting to happen. One only had to watch their coverage of the Iraq War and its lack of expert commentary to see where the Corporation was going in its coverage, sensationalism won over proper content. On one occasion the Editor had to correct them on the nationality of the troops and their equipment in the footage, British not US! The judiciary themselves are also well known for drawing on ‘expert evidence’ in cases. Their duty in this case was not to draw a conclusion as to the lack of technical presentation by Gilligan.
How could the BBC Governor’s possibly comment on a subject which they themselves knew little about? (The same could be said about the Government and Alistair Campbell, but they got let off the hook!)
Thus Dr David Kelly was one of a few individuals in the world who could comment factually and in detail about the true nature of the problems facing the world at that time from Iraq. BATTLESPACE sources suggest that the 45 Minute warning was a Red Herring as the technology to combine Scud Technology with biological warheads was in its infancy. Indeed the point was not raised that you do not wait to see what form of warhead is on the Scud, once in flight, the same battle plan applies. This topic was excluded from the Hutton remit.
The same applied in the 1996 Scott Report in which the Editor was heavily involved thru his appointment with Astra Holdings. Both Chris Gumbley and Dr John Pike of Astra informed HMG of their worries of a propellant under development at the recently acquired PRB facility for Project Babylon but no one in Government, until the tubes were found on the dockside, could explain the significance of this propellant. Thus Gumbley was sent to jail without passing Go!
In a wide-ranging and unequivocal attack on the corporation that also took in the board of governors and BBC journalism, Lord Hutton said editorial systems had failed, leaving the futures of director general Greg Dyke, chairman Gavyn Davies and head of news Richard Sambrook hanging precariously in the balance.
The BBC is making a statement within the hour and there have already been reports that Mr Davies is considering his position.
Gilligan made ‘unfounded’ allegations
Lord Hutton criticised Gilligan for making “unfounded” and “grave” allegations tha