Following the tenth anniversary of weapons expert David Kelly’s death, it was only a matter of time before the Sunday Telegraph, and Andrew “Transcription Error” Gilligan moved to excuse their behaviour in the affair. Mainly, as Gilligan showed in his excuse note yesterday, the modus operandi is to suggest that it didn’t happen, and that if it did, what he did wasn’t really so bad.
Don't stray too far from those courts
And as for the Sunday Telegraph, no mention has been made of their having procured a printout of the contents of Kelly’s phone bill, listing every number that had been called from his house between March 1 and April 23, 2003. The printout included Kelly’s “friends and family” list. We know about this, as Nick Davies mentions it in Flat Earth News (the Sunday Times was also sold the same bill).
Yet the paper remains silent on that matter, and gives Gilligan a platform to go as far as to accuse Kelly of wronging him: “Under great pressure, he blurted an untruth in the glare of the TV lights; an untruth which, on the morning of his death, his bosses told him they would investigate”. Sadly, no man is of perfect courage, and certainly not Andrew Gilligan: he will not say what the alleged “untruth” is.
Much of the rest of the article verges on fantasy: Gilligan’s obsession with Alastair Campbell extends to suggesting that Big Al was somehow able to force the civil service to get Kelly’s name out in the open. Campbell, and anyone not totally denouncing him, are dismissed as liars (Gilligan does love to spray that word around). Tone is also found wanting.
But, among all the fog Gilligan is creating as he seeks to play the victim, he admits to having pulled the crucial whopper: “I added a claim, mistakenly attributing it to David, that the Government probably knew the 45-minute claim was wrong”. Yes, Gilligan comes clean and concedes that he made up the claim that kicked off the row which cost Greg Dyke his job, and ultimately cost Campbell his.
And at no time does Gilligan tell his readers that he had personally spoken to members of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, telling them that Kelly was also the source for Newsnight’s Susan Watts, which would inevitably have increased the pressure on Kelly – and potentially dropped him in the mire even further. But he does put the boot in on BBC management.
That may be not unrelated to the Corporation finding that it could get along without Gilligan’s services, a situation that has continued for the past decade. In the meantime, readers are sold the entirely fictitious line that Kelly – who Gilligan likes to call “David” – was some kind of close friend, rather than an occasional source whose trust he abused in order to put one over on the Blair Government.
David Kelly was indeed betrayed. And Andrew Gilligan was a full participant in that.