On Being Ungracious

. Not surprised to hear from the Guardian of Gilligan anger and NUJ militant spin in the face of Hutton’s well aimed punches. I’m also not surprised to hear that Gavyn Davies made an ungracious exit, questioning Hutton’s ‘bald conclusions’ even as he looked up at his red card, or that any number of people, including the Tory Leader, Michael Howard (in his way), will give comfort to the BBC ‘victims’ of Hutton. I am though as convinced as I can be that Hutton did all that he could do in the circumstances, as opposed to the crude balancing act that could have salved the reputations of the BBC journalists involved and saved the blushes of the journalistic establishment. The truth was that all the crucial lacunae (gaps) of logic and action were on the part of Gilligan and the BBC, along with almost all the obvious dishonesty, and, well, Hutton’s a judge, so…

‘In what amounted to a complete demolition of Gilligan’s controversial report. Lord Hutton cast doubt on the “sexing up” claim and rejected as “unfounded” the allegation that the infamous 45-minute claim had been inserted at the request of the government.

Meanwhile this from Gilligan also via the Guardian:

‘Andrew Gilligan today came out fighting with a statement issued on his behalf describing Lord Hutton’s report as “grossly one-sided”.

Much of this basically via Jeff Jarvis. Also, my own little word to Gilligan- you see, for you this Hutton report was like an exam, with marks for every separate question of fact you might in good faith have been attempting to answer with your reporting, and- you failed. No point pretending that you didn’t when even those sympathetic to you saw in it a ‘demolition’, and anyone who listened to Hutton listened to the force of argument tempered by considered reason. If he didn’t get around to criticising Blair, which to be fair he couldn’t in the context you helped define, that was because your facile errors and insouciance in the face of reality took up all of his concentration. Actually, for Hutton, you became the story- which is I think a good bit more just, in the context, than when that was said of Alastair Campbell.

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17 Responses to On Being Ungracious

  1. dan says:

    A most ungracious exit by Davies, leaving the field questioning the referee’s decision


  2. dan says:

    re above


    “But he questioned whether Lord Hutton’s “bald conclusions” on the dossier’s production could be reconciled with the balance of the inquiry’s evidence.”

    Telling the judge how to assess evidence!


  3. PJF says:

    “I have been brought up to believe that you cannot choose your own referee…”
    – Gavyn Davies – (ex) Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors

    This has to be the most ironic thing uttered today.


  4. Angie Schultz says:

    National Union of Journalists threatens strike if Gilligan is discliplined.

    All of Britain’s journalists on strike! How we will survive??


  5. john b says:

    Meanwhile, unlike Gavyn Davies, Tony Blair *does* get to choose his own referee…


  6. PJF says:

    And, in an effort to escape reality, john b clutches the ‘whitewash’ straw. Further tactics may include rubbing hands on ears and chanting “I’m not listening!”


  7. Jim M says:

    “And will the Board of Governors ACCEPT the resignation?”

    The Chairman of the BBC is appointed by, and submits his resignation to, the Prime Minister.

    I think we can be sure the resignation will be accepted.


  8. john b says:

    PJF – unfair.

    The report clearly and correctly exposes Andrew Gilligan as a crap journalist, and highlights the serious lack of editing and supervision at the BBC, and only – err – Andrew Gilligan would fail to concur with that. Gavin Davies has rightly resigned over the governors’ compliance failure; Richard Sambrook should follow suit over news management’s compliance failure.

    However, the report fails to draw any negative conclusions about the facts it reports concerning government behaviour, sometimes to a near-laughable extent (eg the minions’ “subconscious attempt” to please the Beloved Leader). This isn’t surprising, since it was commissioned by the government to investigate the naming and death of Dr Kelly.

    Had someone other than T Blair Esq picked the referee and set the parameters of his investigation, the slating would have been more evenly dished out.


  9. Hackwatch says:


    It was an enquiry regarding Dr Kelly’s death not the morality of going to war. Maybe all the “journalists” (read: hacks) who were singing Huttons praises only last week when they expected a different outcome, should have been asking for a wider review months ago. Then, maybe, I could accept your pathetic “whitewash” allegations.

    Journalists are there to monitor current events in an even handed manner. Who is there to monitor the hacks in an even handed manner? From what I’ve seen tonight, no-one except maybe Jeff J & co. Thank you.

    I watched the laughable Newsnight – for a few minutes – who do they think they’re kidding?


  10. PJF says:

    john b, given the purpose of this blog (highlighting BBC bias) it would be an indulgence to discuss at length Hutton’s findings regarding Her Majesty’s Government. I will just say a couple of things on that: I listened to what Hutton said and I felt he explained and justified his limited conclusions well. It was the Prime Minister’s job to set up the inquiry – that is the unfortunate constitutional reality no matter what the outcome. Again, discussion of alternative systems isn’t really the remit of this blog.

    I’m pleased that you feel Hutton was correct in his assessment of the BBC’s failings. Perhaps if you’d bothered to say so I wouldn’t have concluded that you regarded the report as entirely suspect and were merely trolling the thread with an aside to divert from the subject at hand.


  11. john b says:

    PJF –

    There didn’t seem much point in mentioning Hutton’s assessment of the BBC’s failings: I don’t have much to add to the vitriol that’s already been sprayed…

    Had the Hutton enquiry made criticism of (or even -reference to-) the discrepancy between real life and Tony’s aeroplane statement, I’d be more willing to accept its assessment of the government’s flawlessness.

    And had the government been slated too, today would have been a marginally less terrible day for the Beeb. This makes the report’s apparent omissions relevant.


  12. john b says:

    Incidentally, the best take I’ve read so far is by David Duff in Stephen Pollard’s comments section.

    Highlights include:
    Well at least one, enduring myth has been exploded. I mean the one that states that all lawyers and especially judges are possessed of very fine minds. It is evident from his report that Lord Hutton is not just the opposite of ‘learned’, he’s a booby.

    and (one that might prove more popular among the regulars here):
    As for the BBC, my rage is such that I can hardly put it into words. That I have to pay a tax to support such a collection of dim-witted, blundering, unintelligent jacks-in-office incapable of thinking their way through the simplest of problems makes me sick! Surely now there can be no arguement to prevent the wholesale privatisation of this ‘Fawlty Towers’ corporation and the mass sacking of its smug, purblind and useless management..


  13. PJF says:

    It is understandable that people feel burned when an investigation makes findings other than the ones they were hoping for. Sometimes though, it is simply the case that the facts have more validity than the hope (something BBC journos should learn to accept).

    I do not see that if Hutton had drawn unfavourable conclusions regarding the government it would have made his findings regarding the BBC any less damning. The BBC fully deserves its terrible day.


  14. john b says:

    I agree it wouldn’t have made them any less damning for the BBC, but it would have made them less damaging to the BBC (the public reaction would’ve been “bloody lying Blair and bloody useless BBC”, rather than “bloody lying, useless BBC”. If you see what I mean…)


  15. PJF says:

    I do see what you mean, john b, I just don’t agree with you.


  16. Dave in the US says:

    BBC America’s 6.00 PM EST (their only evening news report) news coverage of Gavyn Davies resignation was a peach! First Hutton, then Campbell, then the resignation speech and finally a six minute segment about international reaction to the Hutton reports findings. To give a balanced view, the BBC America news anchor interviewed two people live:Andrew Wilkie, an ex member of the Australian intelligence service who resigned in protest over the Iraq war and Guillaume Parmentier, head of the French Center on the US, at the French Institute for International Relations. Wilkie predictably presented the case that no WMD meant Hutton was wrong, and Parmentier gave the French government party line. Balanced reporting from the BBC as ever.


  17. Dave in the US says:

    The previous evening, the BBC America 6.00 PM ‘News’ included a 4 minute live interview with a no name professor of history at the American University (based in Washington DC, a third rate liberal arts college) who said that there might be a scandal about the lack of WMD if various people decided that it was a scandal. The message: it should be a scandal in the US, but wasn’t, so by reporting that it should be, the BBC hoped it might be. Wishful reporting at best.