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Lord Hutton's version of WMD

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Who can you trust?

Our correspondent writes ...

So, it's all out in the open. The government and its servants are all whiter than white, and the news teams at the BBC are all scurrilous rogues who cannot be trusted to tell us the truth.

But the conclusion of many normal mortals is that Lord Hutton has merely endowed the nation with his own version of WMD - Words of Meaningless Deception.

To some extent, we should naturally expect that a man who serves parliament himself is hardly likely to damn his colleagues in the lower house, but to ask us to believe they did nothing to contribute to the unfortunate death of Dr David Kelly beggars belief.

Instead, we are asked to castigate the BBC and blame them entirely for David Kelly's death. But who really has his blood on their hands?

What about that member of parliament who gave Dr Kelly the vindictive and brutally merciless grilling on television during the Parliamentary investigation? Does he have a conscience? Of course he doesn't! The television pictures amply demonstrated that David Kelly was a sensitive man who could not handle such aggression. And why should he have had to face such a public humiliation in the first place? His work for this country demanded more respect, all of which he earned. Others of us might have reacted differently. I certainly would have stood only so much and then I would have lost my temper and told the inquisitor where he could go using single syllable words of four and three letters respectively.

What about the members of cabinet and the masters in the MoD who decided to hold Dr Kelly out for the wolves? Do they not share part of the blame for his subsequent suicide? Of course not. Lord Hutton has exonerated them completely so they can now sleep nights without being troubled by a guilty conscience.

We may never know what was actually said when Andrew Gilligan interviewed Dr Kelly but a reasonable scenario is that Dr Kelly - who appeared to be a thoroughly decent man - was deeply concerned that our country was about to be taken into a war using so-called facts that were unconfirmed or untrue. Gilligan, as an experienced reporter, must have recognised this concern even if it was not in spoken words. All he did was to expose elements of doubt in an attempt to lure certain rats out of the wood pile. And he succeeded.

But the rats, as they always do, used all the powers at their disposal to cover their tracks and find a few scapegoats. Likely candidates, coincidentally, all had names beginning with the letter G - Gavin, Greg, and Gilligan. So now two more good men have fallen victim to government axes and the third may yet suffer the same fate*. They may not suffer financially, and they may get other good jobs, but they have, for the moment, been publicly disgraced to the satisfaction of the Prime Minister and his cohorts.

Their places will no doubt be taken by grovelling government-approved 'yes' men and the BBC, if the government gets its way, will lose its right to be a completely independent source of reliable news. It will merely become the official journal of information that the government want us to know. It will unwillingly help to perpetuate the cover-ups and we will all help to fund it by paying our TV licence fees.

But the majority of people will recognise the Hutton Report for the whitewash it is, and will largely continue to believe the BBC (if it can maintain its independent status) in preference to believing anything the Government say. We can only breathe a sigh of relief that Hutton's remit did not include an investigation into the reason we went to war. If it had, the Government would surely have been backed to the hilt.

We all suspect that national and local government is tainted by corruption and we know that if there was a political party called the Totally Honest and Above Board party (THAB) its members could be counted on the fingers of one hand, even allowing for a couple of amputated digits.

So ... what does the future hold?

I think we can reasonably assume that any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, if they existed, would have been used against our troops soon after they invaded. Perhaps not within 45 minutes but soon after the bombing started. Regardless of whether the infamous document was "sexed up" or not, the evidence has still not materialised and seems increasingly unlikely to materialise. When the searches eventually stop, we can be reasonably confident that whoever supplied or doctored the intelligence report will never be brought to account and will not be subjected to public humiliation.

When Saddam is eventually tried, the charge cannot be based on WMD (weapons of mass destruction) so, for the moment, his main crimes are treating his own people badly and hiding down a hole. We may, indeed, have rid the world of a tyrant, but we have perhaps alienated a middle-eastern country so badly that we have another Northern Ireland on our hands for decades to come. Time will tell.

The truth is only what we, individually, perceive it to be. Many have already voted in opinion polls to indicate they still have trust in the BBC, and none in the Government. But the government, hoping that they will be able to use the BBC as a defeated mouthpiece, will continue to perpetuate untruths using the Hutton-esque version of WMD (words of meaningless deception). And they will continue searching for scapegoats in their attempts to divert suspicion from themselves. Perhaps I will get a knock on the door from an intelligence officer taken off the Iraqi case. I'm an easily accessible scapegoat.

But let us hope we can see through the mists of deceit and search for the silver lining that is currently being hidden by false claims of victory for the establishment. Let's hope managers of Greg Dyke's calibre always have the courage to remember their duty of care obligations to their employees, even in the face of hostile governmental adversity. Let's hope that reporters like Andrew Gilligan are prepared to step across the boundary occasionally in an attempt to expose untruths, and let's pray for David Kelly and his family - he never deserved to be driven to take his own life.

And, finally, let's hope the people who are truly culpable eventually get their comeuppance. Sadly, they probably won't. As Winston Churchill once said: "Many men stumble across the truth but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

* Breaking news - 30th January: Andrew Gilligan's resignation from the BBC has just been announced so we now know the British Broadcasting Corporation had at least three honourable men. The British Government has none!

So, the remaining question is this: if there is an inquiry into who leaked the Hutton Report to the Sun in advance of its official release, will the blame be heaped on the BBC? No prizes for guessing the answer!

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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