Campbell denies role in 45-minutes claim

The Prime Minister’s communications director Alastair Campbell has this week defended himself against accusations that he ‘sexed up’ the Government’s dossier on Iraq’s weapons programme.

At the Hutton Inquiry into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly, Campbell was asked by James Dingemans QC, counsel to the inquiry, whether he had any influence on the inclusion in the dossier of the claim that Iraq was capable of launching weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

He answered: ‘None what-ever... I had no input, output, influence upon them whatsoever at any stage in the process.’

When Campbell was asked if there was anything he wanted to say in relation to Dr Kelly’s death, he responded: ‘I have thought very, very deeply about the background of all this. So I think all I would say is that I just find it very, very sad.’

Campbell revealed that at the height of his difficulties with the BBC, he had consulted the corporation’s former director general-turned-Labour adviser John Birt, and also former minister Peter Mandelson.

Campbell was one of a number of high-profile Government PROs who have been giving evidence this week. On Monday, Ministry of Defence director of news Pam Teare defended the decision to name Dr Kelly as the source of Andrew Gilligan’s story on the Today programme.

And on Wednesday, questions were put to the PM’s official spokesmen Godric Smith and Tom Kelly. The latter was the author of an email, describing the tussle between Campbell and the BBC as a ‘game of chicken’.

This was followed yesterday (Thursday) by evidence from Donald Anderson, the Labour chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

Anderson was expected to be asked about the necessity of outing government scientist Dr David Kelly as the BBC’s source.

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