There were many across the UK who opposed our involvement in the Iraq adventure: I was, and remain, one of them. And one of my greatest subsequent disappointments was to discover that Andrew Gilligan was not only carrying on an anti-Labour campaign – rather than an anti-war one – but also that his actions did not stand up to the scrutiny of the subsequent Hutton enquiry.
As a result of its misplaced trust in Gilligan and his imperfect journalism, the BBC was heavily criticised and has rightly had nothing to do with him since. So nowadays he plies his dubious trade in the bear pit that is Maily Telegraph blogland, from where he has continued his single handed crusade to transfer the blame for his own abysmal standards to Alastair Campbell.
And late yesterday came a superb example of that crusade, in which he actually tries to pin phone hacking on Big Al. Gilligan’s overarching argument is that enquiries – like the one where he came up short – aren’t all that useful, and that they just give the result that the Government of the day wants. Moreover, they don’t always get to “the truth”, or maybe that should read “the truth acceptable to Andrew Gilligan”.
Sadly, Gilligan’s argument is derailed by partisan attacks and the occasional non sequitur: Yates of the Yard resigning is held to have “decapitated” counter terrorism operations – the thought that the Met might appoint a successor does not enter – and Keith Vaz is not acceptable to Gilligan, mainly because he is called Keith Vaz. And we get an Al-Qaeda versus phone hacking false equivalence thrown in.
But Gilligan saves his most damning criticism for Campbell, which has nothing to do with Big Al being in demand for his punditry across a range of broadcasters, while Gilligan is not – perish the thought!
A quote from an MI6 officer is supposed to clinch Gilligan’s crusade against Big Al, but were that true, most of the Fourth Estate would have piled in. The acid test is whether the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre run with that news, and they haven’t. The MI6 statement is not new news. But Gilligan saves his best smear till last.
Discussing the upcoming Leveson enquiry, Gilligan warns that “several anti-hacking campaigners and the lawyer for Milly Dowler’s family protest that there is no mention of officials and special advisers like Andy Coulson and Alastair Campbell”.
Wallop! Big Al hacked Milly exclusive! That’s an Olympic standard smear. Give the clown a medal.