- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2003

LONDON — A British Broadcasting Corp. reporter who raised concern that the government inflated its case for war against Iraq apologized yesterday for indirectly naming his source to a member of Parliament.

BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan eventually confirmed that his source was David Kelly, a government weapons adviser who apparently killed himself after being identified by the Ministry of Defense as the unidentified official cited in Mr. Gilligan’s piece.

Mr. Gilligan’s report set off an intense fight between the BBC and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, which vehemently denied the charge that it had “sexed up” an intelligence dossier on Iraq.

Mr. Gilligan refused to identify his source to the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee, but he did send a note to a committee member revealing that Mr. Kelly was the source of a report by a BBC colleague and suggesting questions the member could put to Mr. Kelly.

“It was quite wrong to send it [the message], and I can only apologize,” Mr. Gilligan told a judicial inquiry into Mr. Kelly’s death.

“I did not even know for sure that David Kelly was [BBC reporter] Susan Watts’ source,” he said in response to questioning from his attorney, Heather Rogers. “I was under an enormous amount of pressure at the time. I simply was not thinking straight, so I really want to apologize for that.”

Cross-examined by Jonathan Sumption, representing the government, Mr. Gilligan said he regretted his choice of words in reporting on his interview with Mr. Kelly.

In his May 29 broadcast, Mr. Gilligan said one of the officials in charge of drawing up a dossier on Iraqi weapons said Mr. Blair’s office inserted a claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons on 45 minutes’ notice, when it knew the information was probably wrong.

“The allegation I intended to make was a spin. I do regret those words … and I shouldn’t have used them,” Mr. Gilligan said.

But Mr. Gilligan told the inquiry, headed by Judge Brian Hutton, that his report accurately reflected Mr. Kelly’s assessment that some people in the intelligence services were unhappy about the inclusion of the 45-minute claim because they believed it had not been sufficiently corroborated.

Facing questions from lawyer Jeremy Gompertz, acting for the Kelly family, Mr. Gilligan denied that he first mentioned the name of Blair communications director Alastair Campbell when discussing with Mr. Kelly, who was responsible for including the 45-minute claim in the intelligence dossier.

In earlier testimony at the inquiry, a friend of Mr. Kelly, fellow weapons expert Olivia Bosch, said Mr. Kelly told her it was Mr. Gilligan who introduced Mr. Campbell’s name in their discussion.

“There was no name game as [Mrs. Bosch] described — only one name was mentioned,” the reporter said. “I did not introduce a number of names or indeed any name.

“Alastair Campbell’s name was mentioned. It was brought up spontaneously by Dr. Kelly,” he said.

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