The dossier, director and dilemma that won’t die

Opinion Uncategorized

Why are questions over the Iraq ‘dodgy’ Dossier still circulating when the Right Honourable Lord Hutton concluded the matter over eight months ago?

Key allegations about the government’s Iraq dossier were "unfounded", according to Lord Hutton in January.

The subsequent resignations of the BBC chairman Gavyn Davies and BBC director Greg Dyke sent ripples through the media.

Suddenly, no journalist was sure their job was safe.

In an era where the “opposition” is an ineffectual adversary to the governing party, many of those in the media consider perhaps the most effective voice of objection comes from within their industry.

Mr Dyke resumes criticising the actions of the Prime Minister in writing: “He was either incompetent and took Britain to war on a misunderstanding or he lied when he told the House of Commons he didn’t know what the 45-minute claim meant," he recently said.

Certainly one is true, though which is worse is debatable.

Upon hearing of the renewed assault on Downing Street, I was reminded of a sitcom set in Parliament (‘Yes Prime Minister’) where the Minister, a Civil Servant, and Director the BBC are brought together to solve an case of the BBC making the government minister look bad.

The Director says something along the lines of: “The BBC cannot bend to government pressure”, until he is blackmailed into such an action. The irony is, that if such a situation ever existed in reality, Mr Dyke did not back down.

Mr Dyke, claims in his new book ‘Inside Story’ (being serialised in The Observer and Mail on Sunday) that Number 10 attempted to pressurise the BBC into changing its stance on the Iraq War. He publishes several pieces of correspondence between Mr Blair and BBC executives that he believes illustrates this “bullying”.

He also claims Mr Blair struck Alastair Campbell off the invitation list to Downing Street because of his “obsession” to bring down the BBC.

Not one to resume his attack lightly, Mr Dyke goes on to suggest that Mr Blair gave the impression he had “reneged” on a deal that would see “no heads roll” at the BBC.

That they did, the former Director blames six governors for panicking when thrown into the spotlight of the government, acting like “rabbits caught in headlights” and forcing his resignation.

Now back in full-swing, Mr Dyke calls for their resignations, possibly because he believes that they do bend to government pressure, much like the representative in the aforementioned sitcom. And should that be the case, one of the most powerful newsgroups in the world may lack the independence and objectivity that is so valuable to journalistic integrity.

The BBC spokesman on the matter did nothing to allay suspicions of such an idea by stating simply that the corporation was: “Keen to draw a line under the matter.”

But in the interests of objectivity, the government’s actions must be considered. How they deal with the claims of Greg Dyke will be very telling to us all, and on this point, a spokesman said: “There have already been four extensive inquiries and we have nothing to add.”

I can’t help note the lack of ‘independent’ in that speech, surely a word more appropriate to the claims than ‘extensive’.

So is this the last controversial argument surrounding the Hutton Report, and the death of the government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly? Don’t count on it.

It seems Mr Dyke will not disappear easily and in another six or eight months, the offices of Michael Howard might actually catch on and begin their own attack.