Hounded to a Lonely Death; Cynically, the Name of the 'Mole' Was Leaked to Aid Campbell's War with BBCWeek by Week, the Anatomy of a Political Saga That Has Turned into a Private Tragedy

By Hughes, David; Greenhill, Sam | Daily Mail (London), July 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

Hounded to a Lonely Death; Cynically, the Name of the 'Mole' Was Leaked to Aid Campbell's War with BBCWeek by Week, the Anatomy of a Political Saga That Has Turned into a Private Tragedy


Hughes, David, Greenhill, Sam, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: DAVID HUGHES;SAM GREENHILL

HOW did a shy civil servant find himself at the centre of such a ruthless political saga? Here DAVID HUGHES and SAM GREENHILL examine how Dr David Kelly was plucked from obscurity by Labour's spin machine and betrayed by his Ministry of Defence bosses in a vendetta with the BBC.

Thursday, May 29

LISTENERS to BBC Radio 4's Today programme awake to learn that the Government is being accused of 'sexing up' last September's dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan quotes an unnamed source saying that an insertion had been made at a late stage - the claim that Saddam could deploy his weapons in 45 minutes.

Devastatingly, it suggested that Tony Blair had misled the British people and taken the country into war under false pretences.

Sunday, June 1

GILLIGAN reveals in The Mail on Sunday how he met his source and how Downing Street had exaggerated the case for war.

While Saddam could launch conventional weapons within 45 minutes, there was no evidence this could apply to a chemical or biological attack.

Gilligan says: 'I asked him (the source) how this transformation could have happened. The answer was a single word. 'Campbell.' What? Campbell made it up? 'No, it was real information. But it was included against our wishes because it wasn't reliable.' Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's spin doctor and right-hand man, suddenly has a lot of questions to answer.

Tuesday June 3

CAMPBELL launches his fightback but characteristically gets a senior Minister to do his dirty work.

Cabinet bruiser John Reid appears on the Today programme to claim 'rogue elements' in the security services are spreading falsehoods about Downing Street and intelligence reports.

Friday June 6

THE Prime Minister's official spokesman uses his daily briefing to allege there are 'inaccuracies' in Gilligan's report.

Thursday, June 19

GILLIGAN is called before the Labour- dominated Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is investigating the runup to war in Iraq.

He elaborates on his source, describing him as 'one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier'.

He adds: 'I can tell you he is a source of long standing, well known to me, closely connected with the question of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, easily sufficiently senior and credible to be worth reporting.'

Wednesday, June 25 CAMPBELL finally emerges into the spotlight to testify before the Foreign Affairs Committee. He brands Gilligan a liar and demands an apology from the BBC, claiming: 'I simply say, in relation to the BBC story, it is a lie.' Thursday, June 26 CAMPBELL writes to the BBC demanding answers to 12 questions on the Gilligan affair. The BBC says it stands by the story.

The spin doctor makes an extraordinary appearance on Channel 4 News when he launches a near-hysterical tirade at presenter Jon Snow.

Thursday, July 3 AS speculation continues about the possible source of Gilligan's story, a Government scientific adviser (who we now know to be Dr David Kelly) comes forward to inform his line manager he had met the BBC journalist.

He is told he has broken civil service rules. The MoD would later claim he was never threatened with suspension or dismissal.

He is interviewed twice by officials and the ramifications considered before the MoD goes public five days later, claiming the contents of the statement were cleared with Dr Kelly.

Monday, July 7

THE Foreign Affairs Committee clears Campbell - on the casting vote of its Labour chairman - of 'sexing up' the dossier.

But it finds that ' unwarranted prominence' was given to the 45-minute claim and that Mr Blair did mislead the Commons when he claimed the second 'dodgy' intelligence dossier on Saddam's regime was new material. …

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