Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hutton Set to Clear Blair and Blast BBC

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hutton Set to Clear Blair and Blast BBC

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Deane

Furious Tories today called for a police inquiry into the leaking of the Hutton Report into the death of Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly.

Tony Blair reportedly escapes major criticism over the suspected suicide, says the leak.

But the fact that the conclusions were released in advance threatened to overshadow the report's official publication, with Tories openly accusing the Government of being behind the leak.

As he arrived at the Cabinet Office, in Whitehall, at 6am to examine the report in advance Tory leader, Michael Howard, said: "I'm looking forward to reading the report.

"The leak last night was quite disgraceful. I shall be calling on Mr Blair to ask the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to conduct a full inquiry into the circumstances."

The report is officially published at 1.30pm.

According to one national newspaper, the Hutton Report has largely cleared Mr Blair, his communications chief, Alastair Campbell, and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon of wrongdoing.

The majority of Lord Hutton's criticisms, according to the newspaper, were aimed at the BBC and its reporter, Andrew Gilligan, over his report suggesting that the Government knowingly sexed up its controversial September 2002 dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

There was also criticism that Dr Kelly had broken the rules of his employment by talking to Mr Gilligan.

Access to the report in advance of publication was supposed to have been restricted.

The Government, BBC and the other parties to the inquiry - the Kelly family, BBC journalists Andrew Gilligan and Susan Watts, and counsel to the Commons Speaker - got copies yesterday.

Lord Hutton is not releasing the document for publication until after he had read a substantial summary of his findings at the High Court, in London, where the inquiry was conducted last summer. …

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