Lord Hutton moves to minimise leaks of findings

The findings of Lord Hutton's inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly will be released simultaneously to all concerned parties, including the government, around 24 hours before official publication.

The Secretary to the Hutton Inquiry, Lee Hughes, said that the move would reduce the possibility of there being any leaks of certain sections of the report ahead of official release to the press.

He also scotched recent media reports which suggested that the government would receive an advanced copy of the report ahead of BBC and the Kelly family.

Mr Hughes also refuted allegations that involved parties would not have an opportunity to challenge findings before the report was published.

"There is no risk that persons will not have adequate advance warning of criticisms which may be made of them," he said.

Mr Hughes added: "Lord Hutton is well advanced with the writing of his report but it now looks likely, as he indicated might happen when he last sat on 13 October, that it will not be published until the New Year.

"We are unable to state the precise date when the Report will be published."

It has been reported that Lord Hutton has urged the government to allow a debate on his conclusions in the House within a week of its publication.

The inquiry began sitting on August 1, just two weeks after the apparent suicide of the former UN weapons inspector Dr David Kelly. His body was found alone in a field close to his home in Oxfordshire on July 17 – two days after he appeared before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He had suffered cuts to his wrists.

Dr Kelly was the source of two damaging reports by BBC Radio 4's Andrew Gilligan and Newsnight's Science editor Susan Watts.

However, it was Mr Gilligan's report on May 29, and his follow up article for the Mail on Sunday, which drew most attention from the government.

The newspaper article contained the allegation that the Prime Minister's director of communications, Alistair Campbell, had "sexed up" Downing Street's September dossier on Iraq weapons capability – suggesting that Mr Campbell had insisted that a statement be inserted into the dossier claiming Iraq's weapons of mass destruction could be deployed against British interest within 45 minutes. Mr Campbell furiously denied the accusations contained in Gilligan's reports.

During the heightening of tensions between the BBC and the government, Dr Kelly wrote to his superior at the MoD admitting that he had talked to the BBC. The MoD press office then allowed Dr Kelly to be named to reporters. In the final stages of the inquiry, a senior civil servant said that the Prime Minister had chaired the meeting at which the decision to name Dr Kelly to the press was made. Mr Blair had strenuously denied this in the earlier testimony.

The findings of the Hutton report may have serious repercussions, not only for the BBC, the personal standing of the Prime Minister and the influence professional advisers have within Number 10, but also for the civil service and the level of protection and guidance that it affords to its employees.


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28 July 2003
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The inquiry into the death of MoD weapons expert Dr David Kelly is set to go ahead on August 1. The man leading the inquiry, Lord Hutton, met with Dr Kelly's widow at her home on Saturday morning to agree the scheduling. Lord Hutton said that he had originally intended not to begin proceedings until after Dr Kelly's funeral.
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The government's conduct in compiling its September dossier and its actions leading up to and following the death of Dr David Kelly were largely appropriate and proper, according to the Hutton Report.
15 January 2004
Hutton report to be published on January 28
Lord Hutton's report into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly will be published in Parliament on January 28. Lord Hutton has said that the six parties represented at the Inquiry – the government, the BBC, Dr Kelly's family, the Speaker's Counsel, Andrew Gilligan and Susan Watts – will have 24 hours notice of the report.
01 August 2003
MoD scientist death probe proceedings begin
The judge heading up the inquiry into the death of MoD weapons expert Dr David Kelly opened proceedings today by re-stating his independence – and then called the Prime Minister to give evidence before him.
28 January 2004
Dr Kelly committed suicide over fear of public disgrace: Hutton
Dr David Kelly took his own life over fears of losing his job and of being publicly disgraced, the Hutton inquiry was told. According to today's report, a further contributory factor in the scientist's death was the fear that his life's work had been "totally undermined" and that he did not share his problems and feelings with other people.