Oral evidence

Taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday 17 July 2003

Members present:

Donald Anderson, in the Chair
Mr David Chidgey
Mr Eric Illsley
Andrew Mackinlay
Mr Bill Olner
Mr Greg Pope
Sir John Stanley
Ms Gisela Stuart

__________

Witnesses: MR ANDREW GILLIGAN, BBC Defence Correspondent, examined.

Q180  Chairman: Mr Gilligan, you are back before the Committee and we understand that you have asked to have Mr Mark Damazer with you here again, as you had on the last occasion. That is correct?

Mr Gilligan: Yes.

Q181  Chairman: You know the background, that although the Committee reported to the House on 7 July there was a significant development after that which was not and could not be anticipated, namely, that an official in the Ministry of Defence thought that he might well have been the source and made a statement to the Ministry of Defence, and you know what happened after that. Correct?

Mr Gilligan: Yes.

Q182  Chairman: It is only fair that you be informed of the seriousness of the current situation and of the powers available to a Select Committee of the House. You have refused to answer a question put by me in writing on behalf of the Committee in your last letter. That is why essentially you are here today. You will be aware that a witness appearing before a committee of Parliament is bound to answer all questions which the committee sees fit to put to him or to her and that no witness may excuse himself or herself because of the adherence to a professional code, or indeed on any other ground. Therefore, the committee has the power, if it sees fit, to make a report to the House of Commons of the circumstances of a refusal to answer a question put by it and the powers of the House in dealing with such a matter are considerable. I thought it only fair to make this point to you before we start, before the questioning begins. Can you at the outset confirm that you have fully understood the meaning and significance of what I have said?

Mr Gilligan: Yes indeed, Mr Chairman.

Q183  Chairman: Turning to the questioning, -----

Mr Gilligan: May I make an opening statement, rather a short one, with your permission, Mr Chairman?

Q184  Chairman: Does it relate to your willingness or unwillingness to answer questions?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, it does.

Q185  Chairman: Is that not included in the letter which you wrote to us?

Mr Gilligan: It relates to some of the points I dealt with in the letter.

Q186  Chairman: So it does add to that letter?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, it does.

Q187  Chairman: You say it is a short statement?

Mr Gilligan: Yes. It is about a paragraph long.

Mr Pope: I think we should hear it.

Q188  Chairman: Proceed please.

Mr Gilligan: I am happy to appear before the Committee and I postponed a work trip in order to do so. I want to help the Committee as much as I can but I ask the Committee to accept that there are areas about sourcing where I will be able to add nothing to my previous evidence. Before I gave that evidence to you I carefully considered how much I could tell you about my source. I wanted to tell you as much as I possibly could and yet avoid giving any information which might betray the identity of the source with potentially serious consequences for him. If you look through my evidence you will see that I actually did tell you a fair amount, enough to allow you to make the judgment you did. What I told you on June 19, with respect, really does represent the outer limit of what I am able to say about my principal source. As I told the Chairman and, as I regret, in advance the Committee, I shall not be able to add anything more to that evidence.

Chairman: We hear you.

Q189  Ms Stuart: Mr Gilligan, I did not have the benefit of being here at the last session you gave evidence and I hope you will forgive me if I ask a more general question to allow me to understand more the process by which you put stories together and you source them. It is my understanding that it is quite acceptable for some Sunday newspapers to run more speculative stories sourced just by one, whereas when you talk about television or radio the standards are more stringent. There is a presumption that there are several sources. There is also a presumption that if accusations against government departments are made this is checked. Is that also your understanding of the way stories are put together?

Mr Gilligan: It is my understanding that the BBC does operate more rigorous standards of journalism than a Sunday tabloid and our journalism fell within those standards.

Q190  Ms Stuart: And within that you would always check back with departments information and that kind of thing?

Mr Gilligan: We do not always do that but we had a position with this particular story where I did not speak directly to Downing Street about it, but that fact has been in the public domain for some time. We did, however, put the issue to the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Defence was clearly aware of the nature of the story and Adam Ingram, the Defence Minister, who we invited on the programme the next morning to talk about it and one other story, was clearly well briefed on it because he was able to confirm one of the charges made by my source, that the 45-minute point had come from a single uncorroborated informant. We were also careful to broadcast Downing Street's response to the story. We, in fact, gave, if you like, the defenders of the Government more time on this than we gave, if you like, the attackers, namely, my source.

Q191  Ms Stuart: If you were to look back at the last 12 months and the reporting in relation to you as the Defence Correspondent and the Today programme, would there be occasions when with hindsight you would now say that actually you were wrong?

Mr Gilligan: I cannot think of any. Again, this is not a question I prepared for by looking back through all the stories I have ever done. Nobody in any form of life, I think, would ever say that they were entirely infallible. I made a bad mistake on one story about three years ago which we did correct on air. The idea that we do not correct stories is wrong. When we make mistakes we correct them.

Q192  Ms Stuart: May I just talk about one particular story which you may recall? It was reported on the Today programme on Wednesday, 24 February, and it referred to RAF planes in Cyprus. You came on to the programme and said that"... (inaudible) ... almost certainly the BBC News has learned that the RAF has in fact managed to get only six fast jets ... (inaudible) ... to the region". Do you remember the broadcast?

Mr Gilligan: I do recall that, although not the precise detail.

Q193  Ms Stuart: And there was a clear statement then from the MoD saying that "For operational reasons they would ... (inaudible) ... the figures and that anybody who was actually within sight of Cyprus would know that the planes ... (inaudible) ... double figures".

Mr Gilligan: I was not discussing Cyprus. I was discussing the region. Cyprus is not part of the region. I do know a bit about the history of this story and I can take you through it. The figures came to me from a press officer at the Ministry of Defence, Elaine McCleod(?). Maybe she should not have said them but she did. The Ministry of Defence then later issued a statement saying the figures were wrong. Immediately on receipt of our statement I had a message put out on the BBC's internal mail system saying, "The Ministry of Defence has said that these are wrong. We need to correct it". That went out on a thing called ENPS(?), which is our internal news system that we work on, and it appeared on the top line of everybody's screen, so we corrected that story, we accepted the information that Elaine had given me was wrong. We corrected that story within half an hour of accepting that, and that was within three hours of the original story being broadcast, so we do correct mistakes.

Q194  Ms Stuart: But it is not my understanding that the MoD ever accepted that they gave you those figures.

Mr Gilligan: I think it is one of those spats between who said what to whom that sometimes tend to arise, and indeed have arisen in this case.

Q195  Ms Stuart: Okay. Let us look at another occasion of where a spat arises between you. Let us take it a little bit further back to last November and it was about support security in Dover. You were reported to have said on the Today programme, "Britain's own security information service called Transec ... (inaudible) ... but at the same time there was a security step-up to a level known as heightened emergency which, although at the highest possible level, is actually the highest it has ever been". That story was subsequently denied and it was made clear that Transec simply reiterated an existing security alert and was simply re-stating it. Is that another incidence of where there is a rather interesting interpretation of the facts?

Mr Gilligan: No. That story was correct. The fact that the Government denies the story does not necessarily mean it is wrong. However, if you had given me notice about these stories I would have been able to produce chapter and verse as to why we believe these are correct. If you would like I can write you a memo afterwards and lay out who I spoke to on that story, what they said. I can give you the exact Transec bulletin which was leaked to me and I can give you an account of what the Government spokesman actually said afterwards which did not really constitute a denial, I have to say. Without such details immediately to hand I really cannot get into detailed discussions; I am sorry.

Q196  Ms Stuart: Just one final observation. When you were reported by James Naughtie on the day in September that the leaked document was published, James Naughtie said, "Our defence man, Andrew Gilligan, has been reading it for the last hour or so". It goes on to say, "Anything new?"? Andrew Gilligan says, "No. My feeling is that it fleshes out what we already know to some extent and that there is some new interesting sort of spicy angles but it does not contain ... (inaudible) ...". Then James Naughtie says, "Well, if you were to choose a paragraph as the most dramatic that you have read this morning, what is it?", and you are reported as saying, "Well, let's be honest. It is not that kind of document. It is actually rather sensibly cautious and measured in tone on the whole. There are, as I say, a couple of sexy lines designed to make headlines for the tabloids, like the fact that he could deploy within 45 minutes if the weapons were ready and he could reach the British base in Cyprus, both of which we actually knew." Finally, you finished by saying, "The document today is based in large part on the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee". Would you still stand by those things?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, of course. It does not conflict with anything I have said at all. I mentioned the 45-minute point specifically in the context of it being provided as a tabloid headline, which indeed it was.

Q197  Chairman: which you already knew.

Mr Gilligan: No, I did not, actually. It was the headline in the Evening Standard the next day. It was the headline in The Sun. "45 Minutes from Doom", was the headline in The Sun. The two principal new lines in the document, which I did mention as new lines in my report, were the uranium from Africa claim and the 45-minute claim, and I did mention those as new lines, I am afraid, as you yourself said.

Q198  Ms Stuart: The Chairman has briefly mentioned whether you knew the 45-minute claim. It actually reads here,"... the fact that he could deploy within 45 minutes", and then it goes to say, "something which we actually knew".

Mr Gilligan: No. I think that referred to the reach of the weapons to Cyprus. That was what I knew already. It is very important not to take these quotes out of context, as I have learned in the last three weeks.

Q199  Ms Stuart: This is a whole sentence which says that it is designed to make headlines. Then he goes on,"... but he can deploy within 45 minutes if the weapons were ready", and that he could reach the British bases on Cyprus, "both of which we actually knew", so it is both.

Mr Gilligan: I do not recognise that, I am afraid. I am sorry.

Chairman: Can I ask Ms Stuart, is that an exact transcript of what Mr Gilligan said at the time?

Q200  Ms Stuart: So I understand it.

Mr Gilligan: Without the opportunity to compare it with our transcript, I am afraid I simply cannot answer that question.

Q201  Chairman: Was that transcript obtained from the BBC?

Mr Gilligan: My statement that the weapons did have the range to reach Cyprus was an allegation that had been made before. It was simply an extrapolation from the range of the CBW missile which is within range of Cyprus.

Q202  Chairman: Are you asking the Committee to say that your statement that it was already known only refers to missiles reaching Cyprus and not to the 45 minutes?

Mr Gilligan: Yes. The 45 minutes was a new point and it was treated as new by all the press.

Q203  Chairman: Did you say so at the time?

Mr Gilligan: As I say, without access to the transcript, I simply cannot remember. You would need to provide me with access to the transcripts. It is really a little difficult for me to start talking about things which I said many months ago and which I was not expecting to be asked about.

Q204  Sir John Stanley: Mr Gilligan, as you know, the Director of the CIA, Mr Tennant(?), gave private evidence yesterday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. At the same time he issued a public statement and this was all in relation to how the 16 words about uranium from Africa had got into the President of the United States' State of the Union address. If I could just quote you a final paragraph of his statement, because it bears on what is the central issue in the evidence that you have been giving to this Committee, Mr Tennant said as follows: "Portions of the State of the Union speech draft came to the CIA for comment shortly before the speech was given. Various parts were shared with cognisant elements of the Agency for review. Although the documents related to the alleged Niger/Iraq uranium deal had not yet been determined to be forgeries, officials who were reviewing the draft remarks on uranium raised several concerns about the fragmentary nature of the intelligence with National Security Council colleagues. Some of the language was changed. From what we know now Agency officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct, ie, that the British Government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa. This should not have been the test for clearing a presidential address. This did not rise to the level of certainty as should be required for presidential speeches and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed." As The Independent today says in relation to Mr Tennant's statement, "In his statement Mr Tennant accepted that he bore overall responsibility for approving the speech but said there was pressure to make the claim". In your earlier evidence to us you again gave the impression that there was a degree of pressure. I am not referring specifically to Mr Campbell here, but there was a general undercurrent of pressure to try to make the September dossier, as you alleged, more newsworthy than might otherwise have been the case. What I would like to ask you is, did you find evidence of that pressure being applied in the conversations with just the source for your 45-minute allegation you made in relation to Mr Campbell or did you find that generally among the four sources to which you referred when you came before the Committee last?

Mr Gilligan: The four sources I mentioned were people within the intelligence community, as the evidence I gave makes clear. They were people within the intelligence community who had expressed disquiet to me about the Government's handling of intelligence on Iraq. Their disquiet included the fact that the intelligence was being over-interpreted, to put it mildly, in support of the proposition that Iraq was a serious and grave threat. Remember one of them was concerned about the link between al-Qaeda and Iraq which he said was unproven. Another was concerned about the September dossier. Another was concerned about the February dossier. The evidence that George Tennant has given that the CIA warned the British Government against including the uranium from Africa claim in its dossier before the dossier was actually published I think supports one of my sources' claims that the uranium from Africa claim was regarded as questionable. It is an important piece of further evidence which supports some of the claims made by my source.

Q205  Sir John Stanley: So in answer to my question, and it is for you to put it in your own words, you are saying to us that the suggestion of pressure was one that came to you from all of your four sources or not?

Mr Gilligan: How I would characterise it is how I characterised it to the Committee originally. The sources were concerned about the use that was being made by the Government of intelligence material on Iraq in a number of ways. I cannot really go very much further than that.

Q206  Sir John Stanley: Can you tell the Committee what was the form in which the pressure was applied?

Mr Gilligan: I have not mentioned pressure. As I say, my sources were concerned about the use that was being made of intelligence material on Iraq. The source who showed me the al-Qaeda document, for instance, was concerned that a rather firmer link than was justified by the evidence was being made between Iraq and al-Qaeda. He believed that there was no clear evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. He was sceptical about the claim made to that effect, made by the Prime Minister on 29 January in the Commons and by his spokesman on the same morning in the official briefing, and he showed me the document which I referred to in my earlier session, which seemed to -----

Q207  Sir John Stanley: This is the top secret document?

Mr Gilligan: That is right, which seemed to cast doubt on those claims being made by the Prime Minister and his spokesman.

Q208  Sir John Stanley: Without using the word "pressure" again, can you in your own words attribute some sort of causation to the fact that a greater degree of certainty was being attributed to intelligence than was justified on the basis of the intelligence source? I think that is what you are saying to us. To what do you attribute that?

Mr Gilligan: The sources were concerned that the intelligence was being over-interpreted to support the case that Iraq was perhaps a greater threat than it actually was. As I said, the person who expected me to put out on al-Qaeda, for instance, did not say Alastair Campbell made Tony Blair say this. He did not say that. He did not mention names. He did not say that pressure had been applied. He just said that it had happened and one must assume that that was happening at the behest of the Government, but that is an assumption that is not -----

Mr Olner: Rather a large leap.

Q209  Sir John Stanley: Sorry; can the witness just conclude his answer to my question?

Mr Gilligan: That is my answer.

Q210  Sir John Stanley: Could you just repeat that before Mr Olner's interjection?

Mr Gilligan: My sources were concerned that intelligence about Iraq was being over-interpreted by the Government, by the Prime Minister, specifically in the case of al-Qaeda, to a conclusion that it did not warrant, so that was the allegation in respect of al-Qaeda.

Q211  Sir John Stanley: Did anybody in the Government, apart from your source about 45 minutes, make any suggestion at any point that what you have described as over-interpretation was coming at the behest of Number 10, as I say, apart from what you originally said to us was your source for the 45-minute claim?

Mr Gilligan: The over-interpretation was being done by Number 10.

Q212  Sir John Stanley: Was being done by Number 10?

Mr Gilligan: Yes. The clear import of what my source for the al-Qaeda claim said, for instance, was, "Here is the intelligence. I am showing you the intelligence. This is what it says. Compare this with what the Prime Minister said in the Commons on 29 January. Compare this with what his spokesman said at the lobby on the same morning. They do not match up. Over-interpretation is under way."

Q213  Sir John Stanley: You referred to, I think, three particular instances. You have covered the 45-minute claim. As far as the dodgy dossier, the February one, is concerned, are you alleging any over-interpretation of that?

Mr Gilligan: The dodgy dossier, as has been described to you in evidence, came about again as the result of the Government's desire to make a pressing case for Iraq's being a serious and current threat, or an immediate threat, as one minister described it.

Q214  Sir John Stanley: Could you just clarify which minister you believe used the word "immediate" because that has been denied strongly by the Foreign Secretary?

Mr Gilligan: It was Geoff Hoon in a speech in Kuwait towards the end of February. He said, "The issue of Iraq is an immediate issue for our security", or something like that, and in an interview with the Today programme the same morning he used a similar formulation.

Q215  Chairman: "Immediate" linked with "threat"?

Mr Gilligan: I can get you the exact quote if you need it

Q216  Sir John Stanley: I would be grateful for the exact quote.

Mr Gilligan: The implication was that it was an immediate threat. The word "immediate" was used in that context.

Q217  Chairman: There is a difference, with respect, between using the word "immediate" and saying there is an immediate threat.

Mr Gilligan: "The issue of Iraq is an immediate one for our security". That is roughly what I remember Mr Hoon saying and that strikes me as implying an immediate threat, but I would have to look at the exact quote before I said -----

Q218  Sir John Stanley: Could we have the two quotes, both in Kuwait and on the Today programme?

Mr Gilligan: Sure.

Q219  Sir John Stanley: Perhaps you would just continue what you were saying in answer to my question about you alleging that there was over-interpretation of the February dossier.

Mr Gilligan: The February dossier, as I said, was intended to further the case that Iraq was a threat. The extent of my conversation, as I mentioned in my previous evidence, was that the intelligence services were extremely unhappy and expressed disquiet that this dodgy dossier had not been cleared with the JIC in its final form.

Q220  Sir John Stanley: I do not understand the point you are making, Mr Gilligan, in relation to the February dossier because from the best of my recollection the February dossier does not deal with the issue of threat. I t deals with the structure of the Iraq security services, so I do not understand the answer you have given in relation to the February dossier being valuable as a means of over-interpreting intelligence for the purposes of exaggerating the immediacy of the threat.

Mr Gilligan: I think it was intended to further the case that United Nations weapons inspections alone were insufficient to contain the threat posed by Iraq because of Iraq's infrastructure of concealment, deception, intimidation. It therefore went to the case that Iraq's threat was sufficiently grave not to be contained by such measures. As I say, my contact with one of my four sources on that subject was simply for this person to say that they were unhappy that the fact that this document, presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister as largely the work of the intelligence services, had not in fact been approved by the JIC.

Q221  Chairman: One question arises from Sir John's question. You are an experienced, intelligence reporter on defence matters. That is correct?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, yes, I have been doing it for eight years.

Q222  Chairman: You read the document produced on September 24. You came to the clear conclusion, as reported in the transcript which has been read to us by Ms Stuart, that there was nothing dramatic in it.

Mr Gilligan: As I say, what I said, and I really have not seen the transcript of what I said, but what I recall saying was that there was very little that was dramatic or new in it but that there were some spicy elements which were clearly intended to make dramatic tabloid headlines the next day, which they duly did. I have absolutely no problem with that statement. I stand by that statement.

Q223  Chairman: I am going to ask Ms Stuart to refresh my memory.

Mr Gilligan: The headlines the next day in papers across the political spectrum - The Times headline was, "Iraq 'One Year Away from Nuclear Bomb'".

Chairman: I was not asking that. I just want to have the conclusion of you as an experienced defence reporter to the document that you read on September 24. What was the quote?

Ms Stuart: The whole sentence says, "There are, as I say, a couple of sexy lines designed to make headlines for the tabloids, like the fact that he can deploy within 45 minutes if the weapons were ready and he could reach the British base in Cyprus", then James Naughtie says, "How?", and the response is, "Both of which we actually knew".

Q224  Chairman: "Both of which we actually knew". How do you reconcile your conclusion then on September 24 with what you are now telling the Committee, that the intelligence was over-interpreted to strengthen the immediacy of the threat?

Mr Gilligan: The implication of the statement that chemical and biological weapons could be ready for use within 45 minutes was that there was an immediate threat. It is difficult to understand how that could be interpreted in any other way. That was a new line in the dossier, whatever I may or may not have said on the day, and with 20 minutes of however long it was to examine it after it came out.

Q225  Chairman: "Both of which we actually knew".

Mr Gilligan: Whatever or not I may have said on the day, I am pretty sure I was actually referring to the fact that they could reach Cyprus with the same missiles. The 45 minutes was a new point. It was taken as such by the press, as was the allegation that Saddam had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. The 45 minutes was taken as an indication that Iraq was an imminent threat and the uranium from Africa allegation was taken, at least by the newspapers, as an indication that Saddam was not far off a nuclear weapon provided he could obtain some material, which was indeed the statement made in the dossier.

Q226  Chairman: We hear you. I was asking you specifically on your conclusion as an experienced defence reporter and your immediate response?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, my conclusion as an experienced defence reporter immersed in this field for many years, was, as I say, apart from those two "sexy" lines there was very little that was new in it. This was clearly not the conclusion that many others, less experienced, less immersed in the area drew. Many other individuals have testified that that dossier was a decisive factor in shaping their perceptions of the threat from Iraq.

Q227  Mr Chidgey: Mr Gilligan, as I am sure you will know we took evidence on Tuesday from Dr David Kelly. I do not know whether you have had an opportunity to follow that session or have since seen a transcript of the evidence?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, I watched it on tv.

Q228  Mr Chidgey: That is good. Thank you. I wonder if you can help me clear up something in the way that Dr Kelly responded to some questions from me. You are, of course, aware that he has spoken to other BBC journalists, in particular Sue Watts, I think.

Mr Gilligan: Sorry?

Q229  Mr Chidgey: You are aware that he spoke to...

Mr Gilligan: I am not aware of anything about Dr Kelly's dealings with other journalists, how could I be?

Q230  Mr Chidgey: Have you had an opportunity to talk to Sue Watts about any note she may have made about them?

Mr Gilligan: No, I have never met or spoken to Susan Watts.

Andrew Mackinlay: It is a big organisation.

 

Q231  Mr Chidgey: I am sure it is. Are you able to help? No one is trying to probe into your sources in that regard, Mr Gilligan, I am merely trying to get some accuracy.

Mr Gilligan: Heaven forbid!

Q232  Mr Chidgey: You will know from watching the evidence session that Dr Kelly was having conversations or meetings and I was trying to find out whether or not the information I read out to him was something that he was believed to have said in your organisation to reputable journalists. He ducked and dived about whether he met with Sue or Susan, but he did later on in response to Gisela Stuart say he had a telephone conversation with her on four of five occasions. What I would really like to find out is whether from your discussions, your own knowledge of the information in the transcripts that have been kept in the BBC, whether or not the questions I asked him were, in fact, a fair record of what he said?

Mr Gilligan: In relation to Susan Watts I simply cannot help. You would have to ask her that I am afraid.

Q233  Mr Chidgey: That is obvious, but time is short.

Mr Gilligan: I have never met or spoken to Susan Watts, genuinely. It is a big organisation.

Q234  Mr Chidgey: There was no information passed to you from her office?

Mr Gilligan: No, not at all.

Q235  Chairman: Have you ever handled a transcript or an alleged transcript?

Mr Gilligan: How do you mean?

Q236  Chairman: Have you ever seen a transcript of an alleged conversation between Susan Watts and Dr Kelly?

Mr Gilligan: I have seen Susan Watts' original report on Newsnight in which she quoted a source seemed to be involved with the process of putting the dossier together. I have transcribed that but I have not been given access to Susan Watts' notes or anything.

Q237  Mr Chidgey: Does the transcript you watched from Newsnight more or less match up with the information I read out to Dr Kelly?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, it pretty much does. That was described by her as a senior figure intimately involved drawing up the dossier.

Q238  Mr Chidgey: Were you surprised by him saying that he did not recognise that?

Mr Gilligan: I cannot answer questions about Dr Kelly's relationship with Susan Watts because I have never spoken to either of them about it.

Q239  Mr Chidgey: Okay. Can I ask a couple of quick questions, can you tell us how long you have known Dr Kelly for?

Mr Gilligan: I am pretty sure some considerable time, I cannot remember the exact day we first met I am afraid.

Q240  Mr Chidgey: Are we talking about months, years?

Mr Gilligan: Certainly somewhat longer than months. It really is very difficult to say how long I have known someone.

Q241  Mr Chidgey: You presumably met him on a number of occasions, perhaps many times, perhaps no more times than is possible to specify as a specific number?

Mr Gilligan: I do not dispute that I met Dr Kelly, of course. If any of my sources wish to disclose their meetings with me they can. Anything between me and the source is for the source to disclose, not for me. If you like it is a little bit like the relationship between a lawyer and a client or a doctor and a patient, if the client or the patient wishes to break confidentiality they can but I am still bound by a duty of confidentiality to them. It is for Dr Kelly to disclose any details that he wishes and not for me to add anything further to his evidence. I have nothing further to add to his evidence, which struck me as pretty clear.

Q242  Mr Chidgey: I am not asking what he may or may not have said you to you, I am trying to get an idea of the relationship that you had with him, as I am sure you have with many other people. Do you know whether he had authorised meetings with you or not?

Mr Gilligan: I cannot discuss any further meetings I may or may not have had with Dr Kelly. As I have said, I cannot really add anything further to my evidence or that of Dr Kelly.

Q243  Mr Chidgey: You are not prepared to tell us what the mechanism was, whether you spoke on the phone or exchanged e-mails?

Mr Gilligan: I have nothing further to add to my evidence or that of Dr Kelly.

Q244  Mr Olner: It really continues, Mr Gilligan, on the questions that Mr Chidgey was asking you, you do not deny that you did meet Mr Kelly on 22 May?

Mr Gilligan: I have not described the date of the meeting. I have nothing further to add to the evidence which Dr Kelly gave. If he wants to talk about his meetings with me it is up to him but I am not going to talk about it. It is for him to describe any details of any meetings he has, if he wishes to do so he may do so.

Q245  Mr Olner: You did have a meeting with him?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, absolutely.

Q246  Mr Olner: What was the reason for holding that meeting?

Mr Gilligan: As I say, if any sources wish to disclose the fact about their meeting they can, I am not going to.

Q247  Mr Olner: Did you ask for the meeting or did he ask to meet you?

Mr Gilligan: I have nothing to add to my evidence or that of Dr Kelly.

Q248  Mr Olner: You have read or perhaps had an opportunity to read his account of the meeting on 22 May, is there anything there which you dispute about that?

Mr Gilligan: I have not gone over it word for word because the transcript is not up on the website yet but from what I saw on tv I did not see anything I would have a problem with.

Q249  Mr Olner: You would agree with what Dr Kelly said that you did meet on 22 May?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, I have already said we met. If he wants to say we met on 22 May, but I am not putting any further information about any contacts that I might have had with any source into the public domain, it is for the source to do that, not for me.

Q250  Mr Olner: Can I come back to what Ms Stuart was saying earlier, what you said on the BBC programme was one thing, but you seem to have changed your story completely for the article you wrote in the Mail on Sunday?

Mr Gilligan: Can you specify how, Mr Olner?

Q251  Mr Olner: I am coming back to the piece about the fact that the two new bits were not new and yet they were flagged up somewhat differently in your article for the Mail on Sunday.

Mr Gilligan: Can you specify how they were flagged up differently, Mr Olner?

Q252  Mr Olner: Mrs Stuart read it out to you, part of that transcript was that both of the things were not new, they were known about.

Mr Gilligan: I have heard the transcript.

Q253  Mr Olner: The Chairman established you are a journalist of long-standing experience on defence matters.

Mr Gilligan: Can you spell out what I said in the Mail on Sunday on that point?

Q254  Mr Olner: It was on that one where you first mentioned the word "Campbell".

Mr Gilligan: Yes it was, yes.

Q255  Mr Olner: You then went on to use terminology that has been used in the past that you "sexed it up" in that article. You "sexed" that article. What you said in the BBC programme was fair comment in some respects and then I think you went on to embellish the matter in the Mail on Sunday.

Mr Gilligan: Are you saying that I admitted I "sexed" an article up, because that is absolutely not something that I have ever said.

Q256  Mr Olner: I am saying what you did in the radio broadcast was entirely different to the Mail on Sunday article.

Mr Gilligan: You are happy to accept the content of my radio broadcast, Mr Olner, that is a relief to me. That is not the Government's position I have to say.

Q257  Mr Olner: No, I am talking about that specific item.

Mr Gilligan: What is your question?

Q258  Mr Olner: My question is why did you change your emphasis on the story, in my opinion, compared to what you said on Radio 4? On the Radio 4 one you said that the bombing of the Cyprus bases and the 45 minute thing were nothing new, were nothing new. Did you say that or not?

Mr Gilligan: The Mail on Sunday article ---- Let me go through this. The difference between what I said on Radio 4 about the dossier on 29 May this year and what I said in the Mail on Sunday on 1 June was that on Radio 4 I did not mention Campbell and in the Mail on Sunday I did mention him. I will tell you why we did not mention Mr Campbell on Radio 4 on 29 May. We did not want to be accused of being inflammatory with the story. The editors had already seen all my notes, which included the passage about Mr Campbell which I quoted to you at the Committee, and it was decided that we would not include that passage in the piece, although nobody disputed its accuracy, because we did not want to inflame the thing and make it a personal attack on Campbell. We were "sexing down" our story, if you like. What happened after that was the Government failed to deny the story, in fact they did not deny it until 4 June, six days after the story was first broadcast. The press ----

Mr Olner: Why do you think that was?

Q259  Mr Pope: I thought Number 10 denied it within an hour?

Mr Gilligan: No, Mr Campbell gave evidence to you that he denied it within an hour but, in fact, that is untrue. The Government merely denied a story that had never been ---- They denied a number of claims that had never been alleged. They said "Not one word of this story was not derived from intelligence material". Nobody had ever alleged that it was not derived from intelligence material, the allegation was that doubts about its accuracy had been ignored and that it had been overplayed. Equally, they denied that anyone had made anything up. Again, nobody ever alleged that any part of the dossier was made up. The point was repeatedly made that this was real but unreliable information, this 45 minute point. The actual allegations in our actual story did not come until Prime Minister's Questions on 4 June, I think it was 4 June. That was one reason why the story ran so long. That was one reason why I felt confident to go with the Campbell line in the Mail on Sunday.

Q260  Mr Olner: But we have no proof, no proof whatsoever.

Mr Gilligan: There is no proof either way other than the word of my source, who has been right on a number of other things, as the Committee has found.

Q261  Mr Pope: Just on this specific point. The Committee can only reach a conclusion based on evidence and the evidence that you gave us on 19 June when you said that the source's claim was that the dossier had been transformed in the week before publication, you asked how the transformation had happened and the answer was a single word, "Campbell". We put that allegation to Alastair Campbell who denied it. He said it was a lie, that was the word he used. The Foreign Secretary has denied it. Alastair Campbell has now written a letter to the Committee that was cleared by the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Sir John Scarlett, which denies that he did this, and frankly, literally, not a single piece of evidence backs the assertion that you made to the Committee on 19 June. I think that is a matter of massive concern that not a single other person has backed you up and, in fact, it has been denied by Alastair Campbell, the Foreign Secretary and the Chairman of the JIC.

Mr Gilligan: Assertions that something is untrue are no substitute for evidence that it is untrue, and the Committee has been denied the evidence which it might need to establish that it is untrue, namely the presence of the Chairman of the JIC and access to the draft of the dossier.

Mr Illsley: The Committee has been given evidence of the 45 minute claim.

Q262  Mr Pope: I have just a couple of other things that follow on from that. I wanted to check that you stood by an answer you gave on the 19th to Mr Maples in which you said that in relation to the September dossier there was a single source. You said you wanted to be very specific about this, there was a single source. Is that still your position?

Mr Gilligan: The quotes and the source for the story which began all the fuss came from a single source, absolutely.

Q263  Mr Pope: The Committee has now had a meeting with a source, Dr Kelly, who met with you, because he told us he met with you, and when asked the question "Do you believe that the document was transformed", this is the September dossier, "by Alastair Campbell?" Dr Kelly replied, "I do not believe that at all". It is not sustainable to believe that there was only a single source who spoke to you when we have interviewed a source who spoke to you who denies it. Either there was more than one source or the evidence which you gave to us was incorrect.

Mr Gilligan: As I made clear in my letter to the Chairman, when I spoke of four sources to the Committee, I was speaking of people within the intelligence community who had expressed disquiet to me about the Government's use of intelligence in Iraq. I do, of course, also have many other sources, including Ministry of Defence officials at all levels, and I spoke to a couple of them in an attempt to either corroborate or dismiss my primary source's story, getting no result either way. Clearly I have more than one source in the totality of my career.

Q264  Mr Pope: Let me put it again. You said to the Committee: "I want to make the distinction between a specific source for this specific story, which is a single source" and you are standing by that. We have now interviewed a source who told us that he did not say this to you. In fact, when the question was put to him, he said "I do not believe that at all", that Alastair Campbell transformed the dossier. It cannot possibly be the case that there was only one source, there must have been more than one source, or Dr Kelly lied to the Committee when he said that he did not believe that Alastair Campbell transformed the document. Which is it?

Mr Gilligan: The Committee has come to the judgment that Dr Kelly was almost certainly not my source and, as I have said to you, I have spoken about the issue of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction to quite a large number of people. Some of those interviews were attempts to corroborate or refute elements of my story from my original primary source, and ----

Q265  Mr Pope: So there must be a source other than Dr Kelly?

Mr Gilligan: I really do have very little to add to what I have already said to you about ----

Q266  Mr Pope: I am not asking you to disclose the source, I am just asking you to confirm that there must be a source as well as Dr Kelly because Dr Kelly said that he did not say this about the document being transformed. Either there must be another source or you invented the phrase about Alastair Campbell transforming the document against the wishes of the intelligence services.

Mr Gilligan: As I have made clear, I have many sources.

Q267  Mr Pope: You said you have a single source.

Mr Gilligan: Based on a comparison of my evidence to the Committee and Dr Kelly's evidence to the Committee, the Committee has already come to the judgment that Dr Kelly was not the source. He met me in an hotel, okay that is the same; he said he did not have access to intelligence information about the 45 minutes; he said he did not bring up Alastair Campbell's role in the dossier; he said he was not a member of the intelligence community; he said he was not in charge of drawing up the dossier; he said we did not start off by talking about the railways. I really do have nothing to add to my evidence or the evidence of Dr Kelly.

Q268  Mr Pope: What you are suggesting is that Dr Kelly was not the source. I am prepared to accept that but you cannot then stack that up with your original statement that there was a single source, there was clearly more than a single source. The concern that I have got in this is that the Committee has been misled very seriously on an incredibly grave allegation that Alastair Campbell exaggerated the claims for war and inserted it against the wishes of the intelligence community. It has been denied by absolutely everybody and every opportunity has been given for people to put a different case but nobody has.

Mr Gilligan: As I say, no actual evidence that that is untrue has been produced, merely assertion. A careful reading of the Committee's evidence ----

Q269  Mr Pope: I have read it carefully.

Mr Gilligan: ---- does not in any way disprove the allegation about Alastair Campbell. I note also that several Members of the Committee were unwilling to clear Mr Campbell.

Q270  Ms Stuart: Mr Gilligan, may I ask you one simple question. I understand that you have revealed your source to the BBC, to the Governor, and that is right and proper. Did you give him one name or several names?

Mr Gilligan: The source for the story was a single source. I gave them one name. It was not to the Governors, it was to the Director of News.

Q271  Ms Stuart: So there is one person who has that name and it is one name?

Mr Gilligan: Yes. As I have said in my evidence, the source for this story was a single source.

Q272  Ms Stuart: You are drawing inferences as to the Committee's conclusion as to whether Dr Kelly was the source of the story, that is assuming we are not being lied to.

Mr Gilligan: Absolutely, of course.

Q273  Mr Illsley: Can I just clear up this other bit about whether 10 Downing Street, Alastair Campbell, issued a denial to the BBC after your story went out on radio. This came up in a debate on the floor of the House yesterday and I interrupted the Shadow Foreign Secretary because he had made a claim that 10 Downing Street had not issued a denial on that story and yet Alastair Campbell gave evidence to the Committee and said that a denial was issued within an hour of the story being broadcast. Are you saying that denial never happened or are you saying that the denial was in a form of words which did not deny the accusation that you were making?

Mr Gilligan: The latter. The denial denied a number of things that the source had never actually alleged, they firstly denied that the 45 minute claim was not derived from intelligence material, the source never alleged it was not. They secondly denied that anything had been made up, had been fabricated. Again, the source never alleged that anything had been fabricated. Those were the two denials they made. It is noticeable, as I said before, in the days immediately after the story every other journalist on Fleet Street with intelligence connections spoke to their intelligence connections - I do not know whether this is official or unofficial - and they were hearing the same sort of things. There is a whole list of quotes which I recommend to you, particularly the quotes in the Guardian, the Times, in the Sunday Times, the Observer, the Independent on Sunday and indeed in several other newspapers. It is pretty clear not only were denials not being made, confirmations were being given to other journalists.

Q274  Mr Illsley: Alastair Campbell insists that he denied involvement in the allegation of "sexing-up" that dossier. As well as that the Committee has read to it by the Foreign Secretary the exact wording of the joint intelligence assessment which made reference to the 45 minutes. It has been read to us, we have been told by the Foreign Secretary it was in the dossier before it was even presented to Alastair Campbell.

Mr Gilligan: Let me read you the JIC assessment, this is from page 62 of your own volume, which is, I think, one of the most interesting things that the Committee has uncovered. The question is from the Committee's expert adviser, Dr Tom Inch: "Was the wording of the '45 minutes' claim... exactly the same as it was in the intelligence assessment supplied to the Government? If not, was it accompanied in the intelligence assessment by qualifications not included in the public document?" The answer from the Foreign Office is: "The same report was reflected in almost identical terms in the JIC's classified work. There were no further caveats used".

Q275  Chairman: Was that the question or the answer?

Mr Gilligan: That is the answer. Then on page 71 of the evidence volume, this is a question from Tom Inch to the Foreign Office: "It is important to find what the raw data actually said about 45 minutes". The Foreign Office's answer is: "The JIC assessment said that some CWB weapons could be delivered to units within 45 minutes of an order being issued". Now, delivered to units is completely different from the Prime Minister's statement in the foreword to the dossier that they could be ready within 45 minutes. Even on the narrow trainspottery point of how long it takes to get a weapon ready once it has been delivered to a unit it takes a further hour to several hours. We have taken expert advice on this. I have spoken to Rupert Pengeley, the technical editor of Jane's Information Group, who is an expert on this. He has given me a very long memo, which I would be very pleased to submit to the Committee on exactly the stages that something has to go through between it arriving at the door of the unit and being ready for use. His opinion is that it would take between 30 minutes and several hours, depending on the weapon and the levels of preparedness of the operators. However, there is an even more telling point about that particular JIC assessment. It is absolutely explicit that chemical and biological weapons were not held with units, they were not with any unit at all.

Q276  Mr Illsley: We are not talking about whether they had them or not.

Mr Gilligan: You were talking about the validity of the 45 minute point, you put it to me. You have discovered evidence in your own memorandum that invalidates it.

Q277  Mr Illsley: I am saying that we have had the 45 minute piece of evidence read to us. The allegation was that Campbell "sexed-up" the document by insisting on the insertion of that information. He agreed he did not insert it. We have seen, we have read to us - I have seen it - that piece of the joint intelligence assessment read to us. Whether it is accurate or whether they had the weapons is a different point altogether.

Mr Gilligan: Page 71 of your own evidence volume makes clear the original JIC assessment, they could be delivered to units within 45 minutes was significantly hardened. That was transformed to "deployed within 45 minutes" in the body of the dossier and "ready in 45 minutes" in the Prime Minister's foreword. That is a hardening. There is ample expert evidence, which we can produce, if you wish, to support that point.

Q278  Mr Illsley: Whose evidence are you quoting to me here?

Mr Gilligan: Firstly the Foreign Office's account of what the original JIC assessment said about 45 minutes, this is on page 71 of your own evidence volume. In a memorandum to the Committee from the Foreign Office.

Q279  Mr Illsley: The point I am making is whether the 45 minute claim is accurate or not is not the point, it is the allegation of who put it in the dossier?

Mr Gilligan: I am sorry, I thought that was the point.

Mr Pope: The point is, nobody other than you thinks that Alastair Campbell inserted that into the document.

Q280  Mr Illsley: Only you allege that. Whether that is right, correct, wrong, implausible, possible or whatever it is only you who insisted that Alastair Campbell insisted on that information going into the dossier, despite the evidence to us that it was not.

Mr Gilligan: I will give you the exact words of what my source said, if I can find it.

Q281  Mr Pope: I have it here, "What do you mean, Campbell made it up?" He answered: "No, it was real information", this is the 45 minute claim, "it was included in the dossier against our wishes because it was not reliable".

Mr Gilligan: The only point at which my source mentioned the name "Campbell" was in respect of the transformation of the dossier, not in respect of the insertion of the 45 minute claim. I am pretty sure that is right.

 

Q282  Mr Pope: This is in answer to Mr Olner: "Who from Number 10 asked for the dossier to be changed?" You replied: "I asked this. The source's claim was that the dossier had been transformed in the week before it was published and I asked: 'How did this transformation happen?' ', and the answer was a single word, which was 'Campbell'. I asked, 'what do you mean, Campbell made it up?, and he answered, 'No. It was real information'- this is the 45 minute claim - 'but it was included in the dossier against our wishes because it was not reliable.'".

Mr Gilligan: That is exactly what my source said. The specific mention of "Campbell" was in the transformation of the dossier.

Q283  Mr Pope: Do you think it is a bit risky for the Foreign Secretary to say that was not the case.

Mr Gilligan: There has been a great deal of misinformation about what we reported in this story. Any fair reading of what we reported would not support some of the more extravagant claims made by the Government about what we actually reported. It is very important that you base any analysis of what I said on what I actually said rather than what the Government said I said.

Q284  Mr Pope: I am quoting what you said.

Mr Gilligan: I need to make this point again, Mr Pope, I did not quote the source as saying Campbell inserted the 45 minute claim in the dossier. The source's only mention of Campbell was in the context of the transformation in the broader process of the dossier.

Mr Pope: You went on to say in your quote "- this is the 45 minute claim-", that is the transformation, page 19 of your evidence, question 457.

Q285  Mr Illsley: The hub of this lot is basically you are suggesting that Campbell inserted the 45 minute claim? Are you saying that is not the case?

Mr Gilligan: It is not something that the source ever suggested.

Q286  Ms Stuart: Not the source. You, you.

Mr Gilligan: I have never suggested anything, I merely report the words of my source, as I repeatedly made clear in my earlier evidence.

Q287  Ms Stuart: You said the source did not say it and yet you say it.

Mr Gilligan: I say nothing, I report the words of my source, I am a reporter.

Q288  Mr Pope: The 45 minute claim is not in the quotes from your source. I do not know if members of the Committee have the evidence, page 19 of the evidence of 19 June.

Mr Gilligan: The only context in which my source mentioned Campbell was the context of the transformation of the dossier. The allegation was made that the 45 minute claim was inserted against our wishes - this is from memory - but it has not a specific name with a specific person tied to it.

Chairman: This is the question posed by Sir John Stanley, question 454.

Andrew Mackinlay: You will give me a little slice of the action, Chairman, will you not?

Q289  Mr Pope: Sorry, Andrew.

Mr Gilligan: This is consistent with what I said, Mr Pope, it is fine.

Q290  Sir John Stanley: Mr Gilligan, listening very carefully to what you have been saying in answer to Mr Pope and other Members of the Committee, I have to say it appears to me that you have completely transformed the nature of your evidence to this Committee. You know the results of this Committee's deliberations, it is there for the record, but whatever conclusion Members of this Committee reached, I myself am in absolutely no doubt that every single Member of the Committee, indeed beyond this room, believed that you were repeating your source saying to you that Mr Campbell had been responsible for inserting the 45 minute claim. You are now today making a dramatically, totally, totally different allegation which is that Mr Campbell - I am not suggesting it has any substance but you are now saying something utterly different - with some slightly different wording changes to the draft of the 45 minutes made it sound just slightly more dramatic. That is a totally different allegation.

Mr Gilligan: Not at all.

Q291  Sir John Stanley: Can you please just confirm this point because if what you are now saying is the case I think you have led this whole Committee, and the wider public, up the garden path in a most staggering way, so will you now confirm that you are saying to us that your source never said to you that Mr Campbell was responsible for inserting the 45 minute claim?

Mr Gilligan: In my evidence to you I reported the words of my source. Let me quote them: "The source's claim was that the dossier had been transformed in the week before it was published and I asked, 'So how did this transformation happen?', and the answer was a single word, which was 'Campbell'. I asked, 'What do you mean, Campbell made it up?', and he answered, 'No. It was real information' - this is the 45 minute claim - 'but it was included in the dossier against our wishes because it was not reliable. It was a single source and it was not reliable'." The allegation is of transformation ----

Q292  Sir John Stanley: I am sorry, you cannot just slide off that quote just like that. Reading that quote every Member of this Committee, and the wider public, concluded that you were saying that it was Mr Campbell who was responsible for inserting the 45 minute claim.

Mr Gilligan: Mr Campbell was responsible for the transformation of the document, that is the source's claim.

Q293  Sir John Stanley: That is utterly different.

Mr Gilligan: Which included the insertion of the 45 minute claim.

Mr Olner: You did not say that.

Q294  Sir John Stanley: You have just changed your ground again. You have now just said that the transformation of the document included the insertion of the 45 minutes. This is very, very serious, Mr Gilligan. I cannot tell you how serious it is to mislead a Committee. I must ask you very, very straight, are you saying that Mr Campbell did or did not have responsibility for inserting into the document the 45 minute claim?

Mr Gilligan: I have never said in respect of the insertion of the 45 minute claim that Mr Campbell inserted it, I simply quote the words of my source. The claim was that the dossier had been transformed and I asked "How did this transformation happen" and the answer was a single word, which was "Campbell". I then asked "What do you mean, Campbell made it up?" and he said "No. It was real information - this is the 45 minute claim - but it was included in the dossier against our wishes because it was not reliable." We may draw the inference, and indeed the Committee may reasonably draw the inference, and everyone else has reasonably drawn the inference, that the decision to include the 45 minute claim was a decision made by Mr Campbell. That was the allegation of the source.

Q295  Sir John Stanley: Mr Gilligan, you are aware that ever since Mr Campbell gave evidence to this Committee, Mr Campbell, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Chairman of JIC and the entire Government have been stating that you are incorrect and your source is incorrect in saying that Mr Campbell inserted the 45 minute claim. Mr Gilligan, why has it taken until now for you at a private session of this Committee days later to say that you made no such allegation?

Mr Gilligan: Let me just make this absolutely clear. The source did not say either that Mr Campbell did not insert it or that he did insert it, I have never claimed otherwise. The claim was that the 45 minute claim was inserted "against our wishes", against the wishes of the source, and that the claim had been transformed in the week before it was published at the behest of Alastair Campbell. That is entirely consistent with everything I have said, it is entirely consistent. There is no difference between what I said to you before and what I have said now. It has been interpreted in the media to say that we reported that Mr Campbell inserted the 45 minute claim, that may be the case but we reported neither way. We said, or the source said, that the transformation had occurred in the week before it was published at the behest of Alastair Campbell. That is the claim we have always made and that is the claim that the source has always made and that is the claim that the source continues to make.

Q296  Sir John Stanley: Mr Gilligan, you know from the huge volume of coverage that there has been that the interpretation placed on your response to Mr Olner's question was that it was Mr Alastair Campbell who was responsible for inserting the 45 minute claim according to your source. You know absolutely that was the interpretation being placed on your remarks. You know perfectly well, from what you have said to us now, that there was no justification for such an interpretation. I ask you again, why have you not clarified what your source told you to refer correctly to the fact that it was merely a transformation? Can I ask you whether you wish to consider before the Committee moves to private deliberations, which I think will be extremely serious, whether you now wish to make a very full and frank apology to this Committee for having, in my view, I believe, grievously misled this Committee?

Mr Gilligan: I think that would be a mistaken view. I have never, ever misled the Committee. What I said about Mr Campbell's role in the dossier could not be construed either as saying that he had inserted the 45 minute claim or that he had not. The claim made in the evidence was that the dossier had been transformed at his behest. That is a claim by which I stand.

Q297  Mr Illsley: Can I just follow on from what Sir John Stanley has said. On 29 May on the Today programme this is what you said, bearing in mind that you are alleging your source, when you asked him who was responsible for the transformation, the answer came back one word, "Campbell". That is right, is it not?

Mr Gilligan: Absolutely.

Q298  Mr Illsley: "It was transformed the week before it was published to make it sexier. The classic example was the statement that WMD were ready for use in 45 minutes. That information was not in the original draft, it was included in the dossier against our wishes because it was not reliable". Bearing in mind that afterwards you then went on to say that the transformation was carried out by the one word, "Campbell", how can anybody not arrive at the conclusion that there was an allegation that the 45 minute claim was inserted by Alastair Campbell to "sex up" that document?

Mr Gilligan: It is an entirely fair inference to draw.

Q299  Mr Illsley: This man has been vilified by the BBC and others on the basis of everybody's interpretation of your evidence to us and what you said on the Today programme. I find it incredible that you are now trying to ----

Mr Gilligan: It is an entirely fair inference to draw. I do not resile from anything I said. I would not discourage anyone from drawing that inference. All I am trying to do is make the point that it is an inference, it is not something we said, it is a fair inference which can be drawn from the evidence of my source.

Q300  Mr Illsley: Is that the reason you are saying that Downing Street did not issue a denial, because that was not the allegation?

Mr Gilligan: No, not at all. The thing they denied was that non-intelligence information had been used in the dossier and that things had been made up. Neither of those were my source's allegations. On the point of whether Mr Campbell inserted the 45 minutes, I want to make it absolutely clear to the Committee that it was a reasonable inference for people to draw from the evidence that I gave of my source's words and we do not dispute if they wish to draw that inference. I am not drawing back from that in any way. All I am simply saying - it is very important not to over-interpret what I am saying - is that the words "Alastair Campbell inserted the 45 minutes" is not something ----

Q301  Mr Illsley: Is it reasonable that your colleagues from the BBC drew that inference during the interviews that they carried out accusing Alastair Campbell of "sexing it up"?

Mr Gilligan: It is an entirely reasonable inference for them to draw and it is an inference I would be happy for them to draw. It is not, however, something that we directly said.

Q302  Mr Illsley: It is not true basically, it is fiction.

Mr Gilligan: All I can tell you ----

Q303  Mr Illsley: It is fiction pursued by the press, by the BBC. You have allowed this fiction to stand and it is a complete fiction, is that not the case?

Mr Gilligan: It is absolutely not.

Q304  Chairman: Are you being a Mail on Sunday reporter or a BBC reporter when you say that?

Mr Gilligan: I say to the Committee, it would be wrong to over-interpret what I said to you about the difference between the inference, which is a wholly reasonable inference. I am happy to put on record to the Committee that I believe and still believe it is a wholly reasonable inference to draw that Mr Campbell inserted the 45 minute claim. I was merely trying to say in a rather pedantic way it was not a direct link we had made make. It is wrong to accuse me of misleading the Committee.

Mr Illsley: You have mislead the whole world, let alone this Committee.

Q305  Andrew Mackinlay: It is 4.27.

Mr Gilligan: I am happy to make clear that my source believed that the 45 minute claim had been inserted by Alastair Campbell. All I was saying is that the inference was that we had not reported that in so many words but that was the belief of my source. This was a belief for which no direct evidence has been presented to the Committee to refute it.

Mr Illsley: I beg to differ. In the private session the Foreign Secretary showed us the join intelligence assessment.

Chairman: The Committee will make up its own mind on reflection.

Andrew Mackinlay: We have gone into private session because we thought we might trespass on areas you made your position clear about. Presumably you will have no objection to the transcript of this being released up until this point anyway, there cannot be anything in the public domain which should not be in the public domain.

Chairman: We are asking Mr Gilligan if he is prepared for this as we have not come on to the direct source whether you are content for ---

Andrew Mackinlay: Why can I not ask my own questions. I will put my question to this fella, it is a simple one.

Chairman: Mr Mackinlay ask a question.

Q306  Andrew Mackinlay: Presumably there is nothing here which should not or cannot be in the public domain, up until this point. I would like to have some concord that there cannot be anything here, an agreed transcript must be in the public domain. Would you concur with that?

Mr Gilligan: I have no problem about the transcript being in the public domain.

Andrew Mackinlay: Right.

Chairman: Thank you.

Q307  Andrew Mackinlay: The other thing is, listening carefully to colleagues' questions really what your source, your single source, said to you, sometimes a lot of people forget about what is reporting and what is allegations. I want to come to that in a moment. I cannot for the life of me think that bearing in mind all the water that has gone under the bridge that you could not see that there was a least good practice to help a Committee in Parliament to clarify this position. I am incredulous as to why you have not sought to clarify, never mind the precise wording, because we can all mutually have an audit of what was said, and you seem to be fairly confident about that. Nevertheless, I cannot see why there has not been any clarification, you read newspapers, you watch television, you have heard the evidence here, why have you not done that?

Mr Gilligan: I have no wish to assist the Government by giving any information that might allow them to pursue what appears to be an exercise in elimination of my source, the jigsaw puzzle. I have just described several of the relevant points in Dr Kelly's evidence.

Q308  Andrew Mackinlay: I want to come to identification. The point you have just been discussing with my colleagues, I cannot see why on your initiative you should not have sought to clarify that because clearly you have seen what my colleagues said, that reflects what their understanding is, that is the general mood else where, I cannot think why you have not clarified it?

Mr Gilligan: Clarified what?

Q309  Andrew Mackinlay: This very point we have been debating about the question of Campbell?

Mr Gilligan: Right. I am happy to clarify this now. I do not want any misunderstanding with the Committee, the source believes that Alastair Campbell did insert or cause to be inserted this claim in the dossier. It always has been my attempt to draw a pedantic distinction between what the source said and what we reported as being over-interpreted by the members of the Committee I want to reiterate this, it is the source's belief that Alastair Campbell caused the 45 minute claim to be inserted in the dossier. It was simply a pedantic attempt to explain the differences in the language we used.

Andrew Mackinlay: You think it has been over-interpreted by the Committee. I would have thought, again I put this to you, if we had been guilty of that so have many other people who have been privy to our public discussions.

Mr Illsley: Just a few!

Q310  Andrew Mackinlay: Has that not occurred to you? Quite apart from a duty of courtesy to this Committee what about the wider people out there?

Mr Gilligan: Can you give me some examples, Mr Mackinlay?

Q311  Andrew Mackinlay: The millions of people who watched on television.

Mr Gilligan: Specific examples of where the language has been over-interpreted.

Q312  Andrew Mackinlay: I thought that is what you just said to me, you feel that the Committee has over-interpreted some of the things you said.

Mr Gilligan: Some of the things I just said in this session, not some of the things I gave in the session I gave publically. As I said to the Chairman, I am wholly satisfied with my evidence.

 

Q313  Andrew Mackinlay: Can I change gear slightly. I am a person who accepts the evidence that the Chairman of the JIC signed off the September dossier. I think that your source may or may not have known that. The point is that you faithfully replicated what your single source said and you have nothing you want to say to me this afternoon: Mackinlay, I think you need to double check that. You cannot give any evidence on that, can you?

Mr Gilligan: I am absolutely confident and happy that the evidence I gave to you is a faithful account of what my source said to me.

Q314  Andrew Mackinlay: Precisely, yes. That person did not give you any evidence about this business of the Chairman of the JIC signing off because presumably they did not offer it to you, they would not have been privy to that?

Mr Gilligan: I think I remember saying in my evidence at one point that my source was not talking about the JIC, he was talking about the intelligence agencies.

Q315  Andrew Mackinlay: Yes, that is good. I also accept that you have a single source for these allegations. Before this Committee started I amusingly put to my colleagues - I do not know how seriously they took it - a scenario which I want to repeat here, namely that Gilligan could be correct and that Campbell could be correct. I want to bounce this off you, it seems to me that a request comes from Number 10 Downing Street, perhaps conveyed by Campbell, to the security intelligence community, I do not know if it goes to JIC or to MI6, or whatever. The backdrop of this is the fact that the Government believe they are right, the Prime Minister believes he is right, and so on. He has made a policy decision, which he is entitled to make, he wants to put into the public domain intelligence to back this, to build on his case that he is presenting to Parliament and to the people. The request/demand which he is entitled to make is conveyed to the intelligence community. Let us assume for the purposes of this conversation that happened - please stop me if you think this is either unrealistic or a sweeping presumption. Then at the top echelon somebody is really irritated, pissed off, aggravated, either by the manner, the presumption or the demand. That is not your source, I say to myself - you do not have to comment on that - but that irritation is conveyed to other parties, it becomes currency in the senior echelons. Am I right in assuming, and I think you have given this in evidence already, that your source was not a firsthand source, was it?

Mr Gilligan: I am simply not prepared to discuss any aspect of any of my dealings with any source.

Q316  Andrew Mackinlay: Okay.

Mr Gilligan: You raise an interesting point about what went on and it is possible that we could both be right.

Andrew Mackinlay: Yes, yes, because of the heated argument everyone comes down on Gilligan doing this and who is right? I am just trying to think of the final question I want to ask you on this.

Q317  Ms Stuart: Can I ask you a very generic question which goes back to what I said at the beginning about the way the Sunday newspapers report and the way I expect BBC, Channel 4 or ITV news to report. I actually listen to the Today programme not to be invited to draw vague inferences, I listen to it for what are the facts. Two or three days after you gave evidence we had evidence where the Foreign Secretary responded and said that what was stated in here in relation to the 45 minute claim were simple and straightforward falsehoods. That was in the public domain on 27 June. We are in a position where it is no longer a question of anybody drawing vague inferences. As a former lawyer, one unidentified source which we know nothing about other than he was met somewhere in the Western Hemisphere to be reasonable is a new concept for me, but I am happy to learn. When it was clear what the essence was, do you not think it reached a point when you should have said, "Hold on, folks, that is not what I meant"?

Mr Gilligan: On the point of your source first, that it is simply one unidentified individual who I met somewhere in the Western Hemisphere, he is a senior official. He is as I described to the Committee. He is certainly senior enough and close enough to the process to know two facts, which have been confirmed by the Government as true, which were not known until I revealed them, the facts being that the 45 minute claim was uncorroborated and that it arrived late in the process. He cannot just be a nobody, he obviously knew quite a lot about the dossier. On the issue of whether the BBC allows listeners and viewers to make up their own minds, the practice of the Today programme is to place both sides of the argument before people, and we did that in our item on 29 May. We had the allegations from the source and we had the Defence Minister, Adam Ingram, to defend against them.

Q318  Chairman: You feel no responsibility, do you, that over this period you allowed Mr Campbell to be vilified without any attempt to redress the balance?

Mr Gilligan: As I say, and I really must make this quite clear, I am not changing any aspect of what I said in evidence or in any of my writings or broadcasts about Mr Campbell.

Q319  Andrew Mackinlay: Can I come back. I apologise, partly through fatigue and so on, my train of thought was slightly distracted. I think we got to the point where you said that it is possible, I think you said, "both of us could be correct", you did not put it higher than it is possible. It seems to me that there is a scenario that I want to bounce off you, and you might feel able to say that this is possible. The Thomas à Becket argument comes in, that when Campbell or Number 10 legitimately demanded the intelligence community produce some stuff, quite rightly, for the Prime Minister to put into the public domain, which everyone accepts is perfectly proper, the people in a high echelon decided they wanted to do their master's bidding and they were over-zealous, they cut corners to please the master. It may well be that people in the community feel that things are being over-egged, exaggerated, things are being put in. They would not know who has demanded this and so on, but they genuinely are concerned and, indeed, in some cases they have been proved to be correct. Is there not a scenario whereby your sources, your source, are professionally aggrieved, they think things are going in without health warnings or whatever, etc., etc., those are going in, but they do not know that the carelessness, the recklessness, does not lie with the politicians, Number 10, or Alastair Campbell, the recklessness lies with the senior echelons of MI6? Is that not a reasonable scenario?

Mr Gilligan: That is a scenario on which I simply do not have the evidence to make a judgment.

Chairman: Would you think it plausible that the Joint Intelligence Committee, composed of Mr John Scarlett and Mr William ----

Andrew Mackinlay: Excuse me, Chairman, why can I not finish my question?

Q320  Chairman: Would you think it plausible that the Joint Intelligence Committee with Mr John Scarlett, Mr William Ehrman and others, would adjust in that way?

Mr Gilligan: My answer to all this is that all I can do is report what my source told me. I am not in a position to speculate about what motives might be.

Q321  Andrew Mackinlay: You interrupted my train of thought, Chairman, and I think we might have got more out of Mr Gilligan. As you posed that question, I think this is something we should look into. I think we have exhausted that, unless there is anything you want to add. You understand the scenario that I put. That is possible, is it not?

Mr Gilligan: Yes.

Q322  Andrew Mackinlay: It would not negate from what you have said either publicly to this Committee and it would not negate from what your sole source has said. It could be that the higher echelons have been dilatory, they tried to please their master, the Prime Minister, who are the consumers of the stuff. If we accept that the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee signed this off, which I do, and you have an open mind on ---- Can I ask that question. You have an open mind on the evidence produced that the Chairman of the JIC signed this off, have you not?

Mr Gilligan: I am not in a position to make a judgment about this because we have not heard from the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

Q323  Andrew Mackinlay: No, that is a very valid point you make, a very valid point.

Mr Gilligan: I am unwilling to be drawn into agreeing or disagreeing with any kind of hypotheticals or speculations. I do think that it is not impossible that there is a more complicated explanation than simply that Alastair Campbell is lying or that Gilligan is lying.

Andrew Mackinlay: That is all I wanted.

Q324  Mr Olner: I only want one little quick question just for the record, because obviously there is a transcript being taken of this meeting. I want to get it absolutely clear in my own mind. When I asked you whether your source said "Campbell", you said "No, he did not", did you?

Mr Gilligan: No, not at all, Mr Olner. Let me just quote this. I really am sorry that this confusion has arisen. I want to make it absolutely clear what my source said. His claim was that the dossier had been transformed in the week before it was published, I asked, "So how did this transformation happen?', and the answer was a single word," from my source, "which was 'Campbell'. I asked, 'What do you mean, Campbell made it up', and he answered, 'No. It was real information but it was included in the dossier against our wishes because it was not reliable'." I want to make it absolutely clear, and I want to make this clear to Sir John as well because he was out of the room when I said it, the inference that was drawn that Alastair Campbell caused the 45 minute claim to be inserted in the dossier was a reasonable inference, it is not an inference which my source would dispute. I was just trying to make the pedantic point that he had not said quite those exact words, but it is a reasonable inference to draw.

Q325  Mr Olner: Were those your words? If they were not his words, they were your words.

Mr Gilligan: No, I am sorry, they were an inference drawn by others.

Mr Olner: Whose inference, yours or his?

Q326  Ms Stuart: Has anyone said it? Has anyone said it?

Mr Gilligan: My source was absolutely clear ----

Q327  Mr Olner: He put the inference you said.

Mr Gilligan: I am going to do it this way, if I may. My source's claim was that the dossier had been transformed in the week before it was published, I asked how it was transformed and he said "Campbell". My source clearly said that part of the transformation included the insertion of the 45 minute claim into the dossier which was regarded as unreliable, so clearly my source ----

Q328  Mr Olner: You said they were nothing new.

Mr Gilligan: That was clearly part of my sources claim. All I was trying to do was make the pedantic point which I am sorry has been over-interpreted by the Committee, that they were not directly linked in the same sentence. The inference that Alastair Campbell inserted the 45 minute point into the dossier was a fair inference that can be drawn by the evidence given by my source.

Mr Olner: I actually think the reading of this transcript will be very illuminating.

Q329  Sir John Stanley: Mr Gilligan, did your source tell that you that Mr Campbell was responsible for the insertion of the 45 minute claim or not?

Mr Gilligan: I will read you exactly what he said.

Q330  Mr Pope: While you are looking for it, did you make a verbatim note at the time?

Mr Gilligan: Yes. "I have spoken to a British official who was involved in the preparation of the dossier an he told me until the week before it was published the draft dossier produced by the intelligence services added little to what was already publically known." He said: "It was transformed in the week before it was published to make it 'sexier'. The classic example was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes. That information was not in the original draft. It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it was not reliable. Most things in the dossier were double source but that was single source and we believed the source was wrong". That is how I reported my source.

Q331  Sir John Stanley: In the quotation which you read out the word "Campbell" does not arise, so I come back to the question I put to you, you have read out the transcript of what your source said to you and nowhere does the word "Campbell" arise. I am going to ask you Mr Gilligan again, can you now confirm to the Committee that at no time did your source tell you that Mr Campbell had inserted the 45 minute claim?

Mr Gilligan: No, I cannot confirm that to the Committee. My source said that the transformation included the insertion of the 45 minute point. I then asked, "so how did this transformation happen?" He said, "Campbell". He is the quite clearly making Campbell responsible for the transformation, which included the inversion of the 45 minute point. I am very sorry indeed that a pedantic attempt to go through what the source says has been misinterpreted by the Committee. I am absolutely clear that the source blamed Campbell for the transformation of the dossier, and the transformation of the dossier included the insertion of the 45 minute point. I hope that is clear.

Q332  Sir John Stanley: I notice you are reading from two separate piece of papers. The first piece of paper appears to be your own internal record of your conversation with your source, the second piece of paper appears to be your evidence to the Committee.

Mr Gilligan: No, the first piece of paper is the record of what was broadcast, the transcript of what was broadcast, the second is the evidence of the Committee. If I was in any way doubtful about the involvement of Mr Campbell in the transformation of the dossier I would not have said it at the Committee. I quite specifically and clearly said it to the Committee when I gave evidence in public session. I stand by that as being an accurate source of what my source told me.

Q333  Sir John Stanley: Mr Gilligan, the issue is not the word "transformation" because you now told us transformation has a double meaning. Transformation has been used by you in two senses, once for the insertion of the 45 minute claim and secondly by making the references to the 45 minute claim already there more sexier. The central allegation you originally made to the Committee was that the transformation was by the insertion of the 45 minute claim and that your source had specifically told you that Mr Campbell was responsible for that insertion into the dossier of the 45 minute claim. Are you still maintaining that is what your source told you, or not?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, I maintain that exactly. That is what my source told me and that is what I am telling the Committee. My evidence to the Committee has not changed. The transformation included, it was not different from, it included the insertion of the 45 minute claim, it included a number of other things as well. The insertion of the 45 minute claim was part of the transformation for which my source blamed Alastair Campbell.

Q334  Chairman: Would you now turn to question 455 of your transcript. I am going to take you through it, Sir John Stanley asks a good question, in my judgment: "In term of your evidence to this Committee, the only piece of evidence which you are specifying was allegedly made at the last minute subject to a political requirement to 'sex it up', to use your phrase, is the 45 minute claim? Mr Gilligan: That was the only piece of evidence that my source discussed, yes." Is that correct? Do you wish to qualify that?

Mr Gilligan: I also said later in my evidence that my source also said he was unhappy about the general tone of the dossier.

Q335  Chairman: I refer to this, do you wish to qualify that answer to Sir John?

Mr Gilligan: No.

Q336  Chairman: Good. Could you turn to question 457 from Mr Olner: "Who from Number 10 asked for the dossier to be changed? Mr Gilligan: I asked this. The source's claim was that the dossier had been transformed in the week before it was published and I asked, 'So how did this transformation happen?', and the answer was a single word, which was 'Campbell'". Can you explain to the Committee how anyone looking at those two pieces of evidence can conclude other than Mr Campbell was the source of the only last minute addition of 45 minutes?

Mr Gilligan: That has always been my allegation. I have not, as I just explain to Sir John, Mr Campbell was part of including the 45 minute claim in the dossier, that was part of the transformation. The transformation the action did not

Q337  Mr Olner: You said "the".

Mr Gilligan: The transformation was not confined to the insertion of the 45 minute claim at the last minute. It also included, that a general spicing up of the tone and tenor of the dossier about the which the source and intelligence services were unhappy. The 45 minute claim was part of the transformation undertaken at the behest of Alastair Campbell but it was not the whole part, there was also a general increase in the tone and tenor of the dossier, a hardening of the language, which also excited the disquiet of my source. There is no inconsistency between what I said to you now and what I said on 19 June.

Q338  Mr Pope: This has been a very high profile inquiry. Everyone who took an interest in it would know they could submit written evidence to the Committee, we have taken hours and hours of oral evidence, do you share my surprise that not a single piece of evidence has supported the central allegation that you have made. It has been denied by everybody else involved, Alastair Campbell, the Foreign Secretary, the chairman of JIC, not a single person has come forward to support your evidence.

Mr Gilligan: I am slightly at a loss to imagine who would come forward. The only people who know this are people within the relatively small circle who were involved in drawing up the dossier. As I repeat to you, the Committee has actually been denied much of the evidence which would enable them to come to a definitive conclusion on the evidence one way or another.

Mr Pope: How do you know what we have been denied?

Q339  Andrew Mackinlay: MI6

Mr Gilligan: Why has the Committee been unable to speak to Sir John Scarlett, why has it been denied the drafts of the dossier if these things would disprove my allegations?

Mr Illsley: Why do you not tell us your source?

Q340  Sir John Stanley: Mr Illsley has made the point that I wanted to put on the record. Mr Gilligan, it is all very well relying on the denial by Government to this Committee of Mr Scarlett, and I agree it is regrettable that we have not had access to Mr Scarlett and, indeed, to the earlier drafts, but I must put it you that if you, yourself, wish to substantiate your evidence to the Committee, the prime difficulty the Committee has had is you not revealing your source and that is why we are here today. I just want to put it to you, so it is on the record, are you willing to reveal your source? Remember also that this Committee has the option of taking evidence in private from your source if he chose to do so.

Mr Gilligan: I really wish I could reveal my source. I really do appreciate the Committee has a legitimate interest in knowing who he is, and I really do wish I could satisfy it.

Q341  Mr Olner: It is a he, is it?

Mr Gilligan: Yes, I have always said it is a man. However, I ask you also to accept that the BBC and I have a legitimate interest and duty in not disclosing any more than we already have done about the source. If my confidential source could not have been certain that his identity would remain confidential he would not have come forward and important information, which this Committee has acknowledged as being of value to it in its inquiry, would probably never have been known. I am thinking particularly of the knowledge that the 45 minute point was based on a single uncorroborated informant that formed quite an important part of the Committee's conclusions at paragraphs 70 and 71. It emerged as a result of the journalism by the BBC. Several other important facts in this story emerged only as a result of anonymous source journalism at first and were only then confirmed by Government witnesses.

Q342  Chairman: Are you reading something?

Mr Gilligan: I am thinking about the uranium from Africa claim, the fact that the CIA had warned the Government not to include that in the dossier. That only emerged through anonymous source journalism. I would respectfully submit to the Committee that anonymous source journalism does have its value and although I have tried to persuade my source to go on the record, for obvious career reasons he is unable to, and I must respect that confidence.

Q343  Sir John Stanley: The fact you have just said that is clearly absolute confirmation from you that your source is not Dr Kelly.

Mr Gilligan: I simply cannot add anything at all to the evidence I gave about my source.

Q344  Andrew Mackinlay: It could be a----

Mr Gilligan: I have just described to you at length the reasons why I cannot characterise any meeting I have had with any source.

Q345  Mr Pope: But you have made an unsubstantiated claim against Alastair Campbell, you are quite prepared to see his career disappear on an unsubstantiated piece of oral evidence which has no backing whatsoever. We have not had a shred of evidence before this Committee that supports your claim.

Mr Gilligan: Let me remind the Committee ----

Q346  Chairman: Finally ----

Mr Gilligan: May I just very quickly answer that point from Mr Pope. The source made a number of allegations, most of which have now been substantiated by other evidence available to the Committee. The allegation that the 45 minute point was ----

Q347  Mr Pope: We know that, but this one has not.

Mr Gilligan: Hold on, his track record has been pretty good actually.

Q348  Mr Pope: That is not the point.

Mr Gilligan: It is. That is another reason why he should be given some credit. He was right about the 45 minute point being uncorroborated; he was right about it coming in late; he was right that the 45 minute point had been hardened up from the original JIC assessment; and he has been right about a number of other things.

Q349  Chairman: Sorry, right about that?

Mr Gilligan: That passage I just quoted to you from page 71 of your evidence volume corroborates his allegation that the 45 minute point had been hardened up. It simply says: "The original JIC assessment said that weapons could be delivered to units within 45 minutes. The Prime Minister's foreword said they could be ready within 45 minutes. There is a difference, a hardening up."

Andrew Mackinlay: Well, just in case the record is read, and I ----

Chairman: We have agreed that this record will be.

Andrew Mackinlay: Let me finish, Chairman, for Christ's sake. In case this record is read, or when it is read, I concur with the mood of all my colleagues here, the dismay about some of the things we have heard this afternoon, but I want it placed on record that we are seriously deficient as a Committee by not having access to the Chairman of the JIC and the documents we have sought. I have to say that prima facie, on the face of it, I think that Parliament and this Committee should be addressing itself to what has emerged from this Committee which is prima facie serious failings in the competence of the Security Intelligence Service. That is one of the things that we are in danger of losing sight of. I want that placed on the record.

Chairman: It will be on the record.

Andrew Mackinlay: The fact we have not got access to it will be a continuing deficiency and flaw in our parliamentary process.

Q350  Mr Illsley: Just to confirm, you are telling this Committee that the BBC never made the allegation against Alastair Campbell, is that right, you are simply saying that the world and his grandmother drew the inference from your source?

Mr Gilligan: No, I am not, that has been misinterpreted. I welcome the opportunity, once again, to set this straight. We are absolutely clear what the source said. He said that the dossier was transformed at Alastair Campbell's behest and the transformation included the inclusion of the 45 minute claim. I want to make that absolutely clear.

Q351  Mr Illsley: Are you saying that the BBC never made the allegation that Campbell "sexed-up" the dossier and inserted 45 minutes in it?

Mr Gilligan: No, I am saying exactly what I have just said to you, exactly what I have just said to you, Mr Illsley. The transformation was done at the behest of Alastair Campbell. I have said this to the Committee. The transformation included the insertion of the 45 minute claim.

Q352  Mr Illsley: I thought you said to me a little earlier that you never said that Alastair Campbell inserted the 45 minute claim.

Mr Gilligan: No, that was ----

Q353  Mr Illsley: It was an inference that anybody could reasonably draw.

Mr Gilligan: That was an over-interpretation of what I said.

Q354  Mr Olner: By whom?

Mr Gilligan: I was simply trying to make a pedantic point, of which far too much has been made in this session. I want to put on record, once again, the source's allegation was that the dossier was transformed at the behest of Alastair Campbell. This transformation included the insertion of the 45 minute claim. I want to be absolutely clear, we are not resiling from that in any way.

Q355  Mr Illsley: Are you saying that the BBC never made the allegation?

Mr Gilligan: No, I am not, I am saying exactly the opposite, as I have done for about the fifth time now.

Q356  Chairman: I think we have probably gone round the track a number of times. Are you saying you had only one source for the 45 minutes and Campbell?

Mr Gilligan: That is right, yes.

Q357  Chairman: You say you heard the evidence this Committee received from Dr Kelly and he says that he met with you and the 45 minutes and Campbell arose in that meeting.

Mr Gilligan: As I said to you in my letter, Chairman, when I spoke of four sources I was speaking of people within the intelligence community who had expressed disquiet about the Government's use of intelligence on Iraq. I do, of course, have many other sources, including Ministry of Defence officials, and I spoke to a couple of them in an attempt to either corroborate or dismiss my primary source's story, getting no result either way. I simply have nothing further to add to that statement which I made to you in a letter, or to my evidence, or to that of Dr Kelly.

Chairman: Unless there are any further questions I will call this meeting to a close and the Committee will deliberate and decide on the next steps. Thank you very much.