FULLY BOOKED Stumbling Over Truth: The inside story of the sexed-up dossier, Hutton and the BBC

Talk September 18, 2012 7:00 PM

It has been ten years since the publication of the “September Dossier”, part of an ongoing investigation by the government into weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The following year, on 29 May, the then BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan reported on Radio 4’s Today programme that he had been told by an unnamed source that the dossier had been “sexed up”. His source was later revealed to be government scientist Dr David Kelly who was subsequently found dead in a field in Oxfordshire.

The Hutton Inquiry set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly’s death lead to one of the biggest shake ups the BBC has seen. Not only did it cost the corporation its chairman and director general, but many believe it brought in a new age of caution.

Kevin Marsh who was editor of the Today programme at the time was not given an opportunity to give evidence at the Inquiry.
Now, after leaving the BBC, he reveals for the first time in his new book how the BBC reacted in the face of unprecedented government pressure.

Kevin Marsh and others will be joining us to ask to what extent have the events of ten years ago affected the BBC and its willingness to tackle stories that challenge the government line. Does the British media still have the ability – or appetite – to hold power to account?

Chaired by Roy Greenslade, media commentator and Professor of journalism at London’s City University. He was editor of the Daily Mirror (1990-91), was managing editor (news) at The Sunday Times (1987-90) and assistant editor of The Sun (1981-86). Twitter: @GreensladeR


Kevin Marsh, one of the BBC’s longest-serving frontline programme editors. He has edited Radio 4’s PM, The World at One, The World This Weekend and Today. He also developed and launched Broadcasting House. In 2006 he became the BBC College of Journalism’s first executive editor and left the BBC in 2011 to set up his own media teaching and coaching company OffspinMedia.

Lance Price, a writer, broadcaster, commentator and executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust. He is author of Where Power Lies, The Spin Doctor’s Diary and Time & Fate. He is a former BBC Political Correspondent and Director of Communications for the Labour Party.

Clare Short, former MP for Birmingham Ladywood from 1983 to 2010 and Secretary of State for International Development from 1997 to May 2003. In 2003 she resigned from the Government over the Iraq war and in 2006, she resigned the Labour whip. She is author of An Honourable Deception? New Labour, Iraq, and the Misuse of Power.

Professor Richard Tait CBE, Professor of Journalism and former Director of the Centre for Journalism Studies at Cardiff University. He has served as a BBC Governor from 2004-2006 and a BBC Trustee from 2007-2010. He is a former editor of BBC’s Newsnight, Channel 4 News and Editor-in-Chief of ITN. He is is currently Chairman of INSI UK.