August 26, 2003

MORE UNRAVELLING AT THE BBC:

The claim that Iraq could deploy “chemical and biological munitions” within 45 minutes was made in a classified email issued by a member of the joint intelligence committee (JIC) – but with both sender and recipient blacked out for security reasons.

It was distributed to Downing Street and Whitehall staff six days later on September 5 as new drafts of the September 24 dossier were being prepared.

The email stated that “forward deployed storage sites of chemical and biological munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 45 minutes”.

That revelation, presented on day nine of the inquiry by Sir John Scarlett, the chairman of the JIC, appears to blow out of the water the original suggestion by BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan that the claim was made up.

Stay tuned. The Guardian is all over this story.

UPDATE: Boy, when it rains it pours: Here’s more embarrassment for The Beeb, which just can’t seem to avoid sexing up weapons stories.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon is comparing the BBC to Nixon and to The New York Times, a comparison in which the Times comes off best.