EDITORIAL: Reputations at risk in Hutton Inquiry

Look closely enough at anything and you will find flaws. That is the key lesson to learn from the opening days of Lord Hutton's inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ministry of Defence weapons expert Dr David Kelly.

At the time of going to press, the only thing that can confidently be predicted about the judicial inquiry's forensic analysis of claims, broadcasts, secret meetings and emails is that none of the main protagonists' reputations will survive unscathed.

For BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, the appearance of a note from his boss suggesting his original Today programme report was marred by 'flawed reporting' will have been deeply humiliating.

But the test for the PR people involved is yet to come. As we report this week, senior PROs from both the MoD and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are set to take the stand in the coming days.

If, as suspected, it turns out that the decision to flush out Dr Kelly as the BBC's sexing-up mole was taken by civil servants or ministers - and not by their media spokespeople - they should be able to emerge relatively unharmed. The same cannot yet be said of the Downing Street PROs, who started this whole saga in the first place.

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