Gilligan transcript kept under wraps

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee has taken the decision not to publish the transcript of a private interview with BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan.

Mr Gilligan was recalled by the committee to give evidence in a private session after several members expressed concern over his initial testimony.

The FAC concluded that Mr Gilligan was an unsatisfactory witness.

The BBC defence correspondent produced a report, broadcast on the Today programme, which accused the government of “sexing up” intelligence used in a dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Gilligan described the private evidence session as “an ambush” conducted by a “hanging jury.”

Committee chairman Donald Anderson revealed that he had received a letter from Mr Gilligan requesting the transcript be kept private.

In a statement today, Mr Anderson said that he had also received a “private communication from the Chairman of the BBC, which has to remain confidential.”

“In the light of these considerations, the Committee has reluctantly decided not to publish the transcript of Mr Gilligan’s evidence of 17th July, at the present time,” he continued.

“However, the Committee will make the full transcript available to Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, if the inquiry so requests.

“Furthermore, it is the Committee’s intention to place the transcript in the public domain at the earliest appropriate moment.”

Dr Kelly apparently committed suicide last Thursday in woodland near his Oxfordshire home, after he was named as a source for Mr Gilligan’s story.

Dr Kelly was questioned by the FAC about whether he was the “mole” in the days before his death.

He told MPs that he didn’t think he was the main source for the story, as he had not accused the government of exaggerating intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

Mr Gilligan was giving evidence to the committee in private last week at around the time of Dr Kelly’s tragic death.

The BBC finally admitted that Dr Kelly was the main source for the Iraq dossier report, two days after the scientists body was discovered.

The Prime Minister has now arrived back in the UK from his tour of the Far East to face the storm over the government scientist’s death.

Newspapers have pointed the finger at both Tony Blair and defence secretary Geoff Hoon, accusing them of leaking Dr Kelly’s name to the media.

Both ministers have strongly denied authorising the leak.

Mr Hoon visited Dr Kelly’s widow, Janice, at the Kelly family home yesterday.