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BBC Journalist Resigns, Says his Controversial Iraqi Weapons Story Mostly Right - 2004-01-31


The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) journalist whose report triggered the controversy over charges that the British government exaggerated intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has resigned.

BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan said Friday he was leaving on his own initiative but defended his story as being mostly accurate. Mr. Gilligan's May 2003 report accused Prime Minister Tony Blair's government of, in its words, "sexing up" the threat of Iraqi weapons to justify the U.S. led war against Iraq.

British Judge Lord Hutton on Wednesday cleared Mr. Blair of any wrongdoing and blasted the BBC, calling the report "unfounded." He also strongly criticized BBC officials for not carefully scrutinizing such controversial material.

Mr. Gilligan, the third person to resign from the BBC in the last three days, was highly critical of Lord Hutton's report. He said if Lord Hutton had fairly considered the evidence, he would have concluded that most of the story was right.

Earlier this week, BBC Director General Greg Dyke and Chairman Gavyn Davies also quit.

Mr. Blair Friday rejected calls for another investigation and said he considered the matter closed. He said the determination of whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction is now the role of the U.S. led Iraq Survey Group.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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