BBC response to Campbell claim
Here is a statement released by the BBC in response to comments by Alastair Campbell during evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

We do not feel the BBC has anything to apologise for. We regret that Alastair Campbell has chosen to accuse Andrew Gilligan and the BBC of lying.

We have always been clear in our reporting. Our source told us that he and others in the intelligence community were unhappy that real intelligence based on a single source, was given undue prominence in the dossier of September 2002. That the dossier was transformed.

Subsequently a number of other journalists have been similarly briefed.

This was in the context of hearing from others in the intelligence community of general disquiet about the government's presentation of intelligence.

We have reported statements from Downing Street on these matters, and various Ministers have been on our programmes to discuss the issues raised, but it's still not clear why the assertion that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be ready within 45 minutes was given the prominence that it was.

< The BBC's director of news has accused Tony Blair's press chief of misrepresenting the corporation's journalism in the Iraq weapons row.

Alastair Campbell has demanded an apology from the BBC over claims that he "sexed up" intelligence evidence in the government's first dossier about Iraq's alleged weapons.

But the BBC's Richard Sambrook said the corporation had nothing to apologise for and said he was satisfied the claim came from a "senior and credible" source within the intelligence services.

Mr Sambrook said of Mr Campbell: "He said we had accused him and the prime minister of lying. That is not true.

"He said we had accused the prime minister of misleading the Commons. We have never said such a thing.

"He said we were trying to suggest the prime minister had led the country to war on a false basis. We have never suggested that."

Mr Sambrook also denied the claim that there was an anti-war agenda in large parts of the BBC.

And, referring to the second dossier which included a document lifted from the internet, he said the corporation did not need to be taught about corroborating sources by a communications department which had plagiarised an academic thesis.

Meanwhile, some Labour backbenchers are saying Mr Campbell's grilling by the Commons foreign affairs select committee has left unanswered questions.

BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan reported last month that a senior British intelligence official had told him that the government's first dossier on Iraq's weapons programme, published last September, had been "sexed up" at Downing Street's request.

In particular, it was alleged Downing Street asked for extra prominence to be given to the suggestion Iraq could launch a chemical or biological strike within 45 minutes of an order.

Intelligence agencies

Mr Campbell insisted intelligence agencies made the 45 minute reference and said suggestions he had hyped it up were a "lie".

"It is completely and totally untrue that I in any way over-rode that judgement, sought to exaggerate that intelligence, sought to use it in any way that the intelligence agencies weren't 100% content with," he went on.

He continued: "I think it is time the BBC apologised to us in relation to the 45 minutes point."

But Labour MP Brian Donohoe, who was persuaded not to vote against the war, said the attack on the BBC was a diversion from the main issue.

"We have to be shown that at the time there was the best information available that there were weapons of mass destruction," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Former Armed Forces Minister Douglas Henderson said there was growing backing for opposition calls for an independent judicial inquiry.

"If necessary, it could hear evidence in private so that sources are protected and I think the public test the judgement that that committee came to," said Mr Henderson.

Mr Campbell says he is prepared for MPs to see all the drafts of the September dossier if the chairman of the joint intelligence committee approves that move.

The chairman of the Commons public administration committee, Tony Wright, said Mr Campbell's answers had failed to resolve key issues.

Mr Wright said he accepted Mr Campbell had not "messed about" with vital evidence.

But he told BBC Two's Newsnight: "The question is did the intelligence sustain the case for war, even if that war did not have the backing of the United Nations? That is a pretty big test to set yourself."

'Dodgy dossier'

The MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee have nearly finished their hearings and will report early next month, but are due to speak to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw again in private on Friday.

Earlier this week, Mr Straw called the "dodgy dossier" released in February an embarrassment for the government.

Mr Campbell commissioned that briefing paper for journalists, which copied material from an academic article about Iraq.

He told the MPs he regretted the mistakes made over that document.

But he denied the way he had briefed the prime minister about the document had caused Mr Blair to mislead Parliament.

The academic whose work was plagiarised in the document, Ibrahim al-Marashi, on Thursday said his study had been "sexed up" to promote a political agenda.



 
BBC response to Campbell claim
Here is a statement released by the BBC in response to comments by Alastair Campbell during evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

We do not feel the BBC has anything to apologise for. We regret that Alastair Campbell has chosen to accuse Andrew Gilligan and the BBC of lying.

We have always been clear in our reporting. Our source told us that he and others in the intelligence community were unhappy that real intelligence based on a single source, was given undue prominence in the dossier of September 2002. That the dossier was transformed.

Subsequently a number of other journalists have been similarly briefed.

This was in the context of hearing from others in the intelligence community of general disquiet about the government's presentation of intelligence.

We have reported statements from Downing Street on these matters, and various Ministers have been on our programmes to discuss the issues raised, but it's still not clear why the assertion that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be ready within 45 minutes was given the prominence that it was.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_politics/3020448.stm

Campbell makes it truth or lies

By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent
It was always likely the row over the way Britain was led into the war on Iraq would boil down to a question of trust.

That is so often the way with the current government.

And without a killer fact to blow one side or the other out of the water there was probably nowhere else it could go.

Tony Blair's chief spin doctor, his director of communications Alastair Campbell, could not have made that more clear during his three hours of evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee.

And in doing so he put his own credibility - and probably his job - on the line.

In a robust and sometimes exasperated and angry performance in a packed committee room he bluntly stated this was now a matter of believing either the prime minister, the heads of the intelligence services and himself - or those accusing them of conning the country into war.

He made no bones about the seriousness of the allegations but went on to claim that they were based on a "storm in a teacup" rather than a "Horlicks", as claimed by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Bated breath

But if he said it once he said it a dozen times - his critics, including the BBC, were lying.

Yes, an official had made a mistake in incorporating bits of a magazine article into the so-called "dodgy dossier".

But it had been admitted to as soon as it was discovered and, in any case, mattered little because the facts in the document were accurate.

What he did not say, but what now underpins this entire row, is that if his critics are not lying, then certainly he and probably the prime minister are. It's as simple and as serious as that.

By the end of it he and the prime minister have reason to feel more rather than less relaxed about this issue.
This was the performance the whole of Westminster had been waiting for with bated breath since this row erupted.

It is only the second time Mr Campbell has appeared before a committee of MPs and he only came, he insisted, because he was infuriated with the lies being pedalled about him, the prime minister and the intelligence services.

Utter contempt

It was a shirt-sleeved performance which saw Mr Campbell starting clearly tense, and ending far more relaxed.

In between he ran the gamut from apologetic to dismissive, frustrated to exasperated and, quite regularly, table-jabbing angry.

There was a sort-of-threat that the BBC had better apologise quickly or ..... and he left that hanging.

And he certainly did little to disguise his utter contempt for some groups of journalists - particularly the ones he said were waiting to write "blah blah blah, how did he do" rather than cover the details of the event.

The one emotion he probably missed was defensive, but that was never his style.

Finally there were the lip curling put downs of certain journalists that anyone who has attended a Campbell briefing recognised instantly.

MPs to decide

By the end of it - and here comes the "blah, blah, blah" - he and the prime minister have reason to feel more rather than less relaxed about this issue.

The allegations are certainly the most serious that can be levelled at a government and its officers.

And there could not have been a more comprehensive denial of the claims.

But, needless to say, much of it came down to assertion.

And it will now be, in part, up to this committee of MPs to decide who is telling the truth.

If they back Mr Campbell then much of the wider criticism over the government's handling of the conflict will evaporate.

The government's critics will find it hugely difficult to press ahead with their case.

If, however, this committee suggests they do not believe Mr Campbell's account of events the consequences will be incalculable.