Hutton’s defects, contd.

Hutton’s defects, contd.

Terrific piece by Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian. Extract:

“For one thing, Lord Hutton seemed to have turned a deaf ear to crucial facts and testimony. Transcripts of interviews that the BBC Newsnight journalist Susan Watts had recorded with Dr Kelly corroborated much of what Gilligan claimed, not least the scientist’s statement that the 45-minute claim was “got out of all proportion”. But Lord Hutton appears to have put those transcripts out of his mind, preferring to assume that Dr Kelly could not have said what Gilligan claimed he had.

The judge further chose to believe there was no “underhand strategy” to name Dr Kelly, gliding over Mr Campbell’s diary entries in which he confessed his desperation to get the scientist’s name out. Lord Hutton concluded there was no leaking, even though newspaper reports from last summer show someone must have been pointing reporters very directly towards Dr Kelly.

He ruled there had been no meddling with the substance of the September dossier, just some beefing up of language, even though one expert witness, Dr Brian Jones, testified that, when it comes to intelligence, wording is substance.

On each element of the case before him, Lord Hutton gave the government the benefit of the doubt, opting for the interpretation that most favoured it, never countenancing the gloss that might benefit the BBC. Perhaps the clearest example was Lord Hutton’s very judge-like deconstruction of the “slang expression” sexed up. One meaning could be inserting items that are untrue, he said; another could simply be strengthening language. Under the latter definition, Hutton conceded, Gilligan’s story would be true. So his lordship decided the other meaning must apply….”