Seven years after the suicide of Dr David Kelly, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke suggests it might have been better if the BBC had held its own inquiry into Andrew Gilligan’s false report which triggered the events that led to that tragic death. The fact it has taken him so long to come to such a view merely underlines what an unsuitable choice he was for a senior position in the first place.
When the row between the government and the BBC was at its most intense, we in Downing Street assumed – as any moderately serious person was entitled to – that the BBC would be doing what we were doing; investigating the situation fully.
One of the most extraordinary revelations to emerge at the Hutton Inquiry was the failure of the BBC senior management to ask the right – or indeed, it would seem, any – questions, or ensure they were being asked by others. Once we made a complaint, then so far as they were concerend, it was a question of defending the Beeb right or wrong. So when Lord Hutton reached the only possible conclusion based upon the evidence, all they could do was bleat about whitewashing, a bleat that has been heard in disappointed media circles ever since.
Unlike his wife, (who thought Dr Kelly was murdered by the security services,) the more demented elements of Associated Newspapers, and a few self-styled ‘experts’, Dyke seemingly accepts that it was suicide. But in that cheeky chappy manner for which he became so popular with his adoring BBC acolytes, he throws in that ‘I met some Australian spies once who were pretty convinced that MI6 had killed him.’ … I had that John Birt in the back of the cab once.
In the same interview Dyke renews his claim that I am a thug. I accept I conducted myself with a certain agression, which they failed to read as a seriousness of intent to ensure the report was withdrawn. And in that regard, I was doing my job rather better than he did his.
Still, I must not be churlish, and therefore welcome the fact that seven years later, he thinks that maybe it might have been a bit more sensible to have made a few checks into their claim that we had published false information, knowing it to be false, against the wishes of the intelligence agencies.
It is clear from the interview that Dyke continues to reframe the allegations made at the time so he can pretend that somehow because no weapons were found, it means their story was accurate. It wasn’t, and if it had never been broadcast, David Kelly – whose only mistake was to imagine he was dealing with an honest journalist – would still be alive. That is an inconvenient truth which gets very little airing when Dyke and the other BBC people involved give their version of events about that period. It is a truth nonetheless.