Whitewash claims over Hutton report

4.53PM, 29 Jan 2004

After the Hutton report cleared the Government of blame for the death of David Kelly, many commentators and politicians have been crying whitewash.

Former editor of the Today programme Rod Liddle, who hired journalist Andrew Gilligan, criticised Lord Hutton's conclusions.

He said the inquiry should have been handled by "someone a little more sentient, a little more observant, a little less inclined to accept without question the protestation of innocence of the ruling political elite.

"A plumber, for example. Or maybe the members of Atomic Kitten."

"I think there is a growing sense of outrage among BBC journalists, but also more importantly wider in the country, about this absurd report from Lord Hutton," Mr Liddle said.

Meanwhile, former editor and war expert Max Hastings said the intelligence on Iraqi weapons was "rubbish".

"Will nobody in Whitehall or the SIS pay the price? Hutton's report does a great disservice to the British people.

"It fails to set its story in the context of the BBC's huge virtues and the Government's sore vices.

"We're faced with the wretched spectacle of the BBC chairman resigning while Alistair Campbell crows from the summit of his dunghill. "

Meanwhile, Opposition Conservative lawmaker and writer Boris Johnson."It is just flipping unbelievable."

"Blair is a mixture of Harry Houdini and a greased piglet. He is barely human in his elusiveness. Nailing Blair is like trying to pin jelly to a wall."

In an NOP poll for London's Evening Standard newspaper, 56 per cent said it was unfair the BBC had received most of the blame.

Meanwhile, 49 per cent branded Hutton's report a"whitewash".

Also 70 per cent of those surveyed want an independent inquiry into the reason Britain attacked Iraq. Mr Blair refuses to hold one.

Some BBC staff staged a protest walkout over the departures of Director General Greg Dyke and chairman Gavyn Davies.

Harry Matharu, 42, who works in the technology department, said outside Broadcasting House: "I'm totally shocked and devastated, just like the majority of staff in the BBC.

"I think it's a major tragedy for the BBC that he's gone, and I don't think Greg and Gavyn should have resigned.

"The Hutton Report misses out so much information and focuses on a narrow area and we are scrutinised to the highest level," he said.