September 8, 2003


THE reputation of Andrew Gilligan, the controversial BBC journalist at the centre of the Hutton Inquiry, has suffered another blow after previously unpublished documents reveal he misled MPs investigating the case for war with Iraq.

The BBC reporter has already been criticised by corporation executives after he e-mailed two members of the foreign affairs select committee (FAC) revealing that Dr David Kelly was the source of a report by the BBC Newsnight journalist Susan Watts.

It has since emerged that three days after sending the e-mail, Mr Gilligan told the committee he had no knowledge of the MoD scientists’ dealings with other journalists, including Ms Watts.

The contradictory statements have infuriated Labour MPs on the committee and will raise further doubts about the credibility of Mr Gilligan as Lord Hutton prepares for the second stage of his inquiry.

Committee member and Labour MP Gisela Stuart said she would be asking her colleagues to consider referring Mr Gilligan to the appropriate Commons authority for his alleged contempt of Parliament.

It’s the coverup that gets you, they say.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph is starting “BeebWatch!”

And here is the much-respected BBC world affairs editor, John Simpson, analysing American policy towards Libya last week as moves to end sanctions approached culmination:

John Humphrys: “Has there been a real fear in Libya that the Americans would attack them?”

John Simpson: “Very strong indeed. You see, they really suit the pattern that George W Bush has established – it’s a weak country with a bad reputation. Now, most people don’t realise it’s weak; it’s a bit like Iraq in that sense, [an] easy target to hit if you know what’s really going on, but it looks big if you just watch the morning television programmes in the United States: built up as something terrible, whereas in fact it’s small, weak, and it can’t do anything very much to defend itself. That’s why President Reagan hit it so hard in 1986, because he knew he could get away with it, and I don’t believe that even the Americans thought that it was a major sponsor of state terrorism…”

Note a) the assumption of the stupidity of the American public; b) the assumption of the dishonesty of US Republican administrations; c) the instrusion of an extraneous point about Iraq; d) the condescension of the phrase “even the Americans”; e) the failure to spend time on the behaviour of Libya itself, the country responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. In short, a locus classicus of BBC bias. You can find one virtually every day.

This is what our Beebwatch sets out to do.

I think they’re learning from bloggers. I hope they’ll drop by the Biased BBC blog regularly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan notes that even NPR isn’t defending The Beeb anymore.

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