Thursday 28 August 2003

Hoon points finger at No 10

Hoon's testimony reminded me of Manuel in Fawlty Towers, "Que...?"

It will be interesting to see how Phony Tony does today, my guess is he'll come out smelling of roses, either that or his masters intend to feed him to Lord Hutton whole.

Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, tried to save his career yesterday by blaming Downing Street for the public naming of David Kelly.

Mr Hoon is regarded as one of the most likely casualties of the affair that is threatening to engulf the Government.

He insisted during evidence to the Hutton Inquiry that he had played little part in the process that resulted in the scientist being identified as the source of a BBC story claiming that No 10 had "sexed up" its September dossier on Iraqi weapons.

Dr Kelly apparently committed suicide after being forced to appear before two Commons committees to discuss his contact with the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan.

In particular, Mr Hoon denied any involvement in a proposal by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's director of communications, to leak details to a newspaper to aid identification of Dr Kelly.

He accused Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, of responsibility for putting the scientist's name in a letter to Gavyn Davies, the BBC chairman.

He even distanced himself from his civil servants in the Ministry of Defence, first claiming that he had never read an MoD briefing paper for press officers that gave out information on Dr Kelly before admitting at the end of his evidence that he was aware of the document.

In blaming others, Mr Hoon created a picture of a minister at the mercy of others, having allowed an employee of his department to be subjected to a process that bore no resemblance to normal disciplinary procedures.

Full story...

Day of reckoning: Blair's future may hang on testimony