Analysis: How do the BBC claims stand up to what we know now?

By Paul Waugh Deputy Political Editor

18 September 2003

Andrew Gilligan admitted yesterday making mistakes in his original broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 29 May.

But Mr Gilligan stood by the thrust of his report and stressed that he had been proved right subsequently by much of the evidence since heard at the Hutton inquiry.

Here, The Independent judges Mr Gilligan's original claims against what we now know about the drafting of the Government's Iraq dossier in September last year, which was said to have been "sexed up".

"The Government knew that the 45-minute claim was wrong even before it decided to put it in"

Mr Gilligan has conceded that his statement in a live two-way discussion with John Humphrys at 6.07am was inaccurate. No politician knew of criticism of the claim by Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). John Scarlett, the chairman of the JIC, was also unaware of complaints by DIS members.

Dr Kelly was an "intelligence service source"

Mr Gilligan admitted that he was wrong to have described Dr Kelly in such terms when he did a broadcast on Five Live on 29 May. We now know that Dr Kelly did have access to MI6 intelligence and interpreted intelligence on bioweapons for the agency. He met MI6 officers every few months but met DIS staff every two weeks.

Dr Kelly was "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier"

Mr Gilligan claims that Dr Kelly had agreed to this description of his role at the end of their meeting on 22 May at the Charing Cross Hotel. There is no written record to back his claim. The inquiry has heard how Dr Kelly advised on the section on the history of UN weapons inspections in Iraq and some other sections. Mr Gilligan would have been better to describe Dr Kelly as having a key role in the drafting.

"A week before publication, Downing Street ordered the dossier to be sexed up"

Mr Gilligan has again admitted he was wrong to claim that Dr Kelly had said this. But the BBC reporter says he stands by his other claim that Dr Kelly had alleged that the dossier "was transformed in the week before it was published, to make it sexier".

We know that the dossier did undergo substantial changes in the week before publication. The 45-minute claim in the main text was changed by John Scarlett, the JIC chairman, from a "may deploy" to the stronger "could deploy" following a suggestion by Alastair Campbell.

The 45-minute claim "was included in the dossier against our wishes, because it wasn't reliable. Most things in the dossier were double source, but that was single source, and we believed that the source was wrong"

This, the guts of the Gilligan claim, has been vindicated by the inquiry evidence. The inquiry heard this week that a memo was written on behalf of the DIS by Dr Brian Jones, head of its WMD section, objecting to the claim as it appeared in the dossier. Dr Jones and his chemical expert wrote further formal complaints.

The DIS did feel the claim was unreliable because it came from a single source. But we have also heard that those intelligence officials were worried because the claim came second-hand, not from an Iraqi military officer. It also failed to make clear the intelligence related only to battlefield weapons and not missiles that could threaten the West.

Even Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, agreed this week that the claim received "undue prominence" in the dossier and should have included original raw intelligence.

"Most people in intelligence weren't happy with the dossier, because it didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward"

Mr Gilligan was wrong to have claimed that "most" people in intelligence were unhappy because it appears that only Dr Kelly and the DIS staff were concerned. There is no evidence that MI6, MI5 or GCHQ were unhappy. But we now know the DIS was worried by other aspects of the dossier. It was concerns about claims that Saddam Hussein continued to produce chemical and biological agents.