Thursday, January 29, 2004

Watts, Powell, and the results of Hutton

More things - what became of Susan Watts and the taped interview with Kelly that confirmed Gilligan's report? It doesn't appear at all. I suppose she was only a little woman and therefore it wasn't really a tape? Mind you, she certainly earned the title of the most useless journalist in the world - the first main story of Blair's Britain and she didn't even notice it. If she had done, the entire line of the government's attack would have been kiboshed. But the best thing she could think of to do with the smoking tape was to get her own back because someone had been rude to her at the BBC. I hope she's happy now. What of the Prime Minister's chief of staff, who wrote to John Scarlett asking him to alter the report? Looking at the Pangloss Papers and the well orchestrated leaks, a lovely bone for the Murdoch press, you might have thought that none of this ever existed. It happened the way the law wanted it.

But it didn't. I know Jonathan Powell - the representative of the prime minister - wrote to John Scarlett and what he said, because I was there at the inquiry when he said it and when the e-mails were published. I remember him swaggering into the court looking every inch the man of power summoned from rock-climbing to answer the Main Crisis - and being tonguetied when they asked him to give his name for the record. I remember. Even though the inquiry has failed to produce a verdict worthy of any intelligent person's belief, its process was successful. The truth escaped from the cloisters of Whitehall and went waltzing wildly down the Strand. The problem is now not to forget. Not a word of Hutton's conclusions are sound. The government will be more dishonest and more arrogant than ever. They will do their best either to destroy the BBC or convert it into a shrunken and untrustworthy state organ. But they cannot do away with history - everyone must remind them at every opportunity. The fight goes on.

The government did not have to give documents to the inquiry. God knows what is in the papers they decided not to reveal.

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