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Reporter accused over Kelly notes

Gilligan
Gilligan denied making a second note the day after his meeting with Kelly.

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SPECIAL REPORT
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LONDON, England -- BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan has denied doctoring his computer notes of a meeting with the late weapons expert David Kelly.

Kelly apparently killed himself after being identified as a possible source of Gilligan's BBC report that the British government "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's weapons to strengthen its case for war.

A judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Kelly's death was shown evidence that Gilligan's personal organizer contained two versions of his notes of the meeting.

Only the second version contained a reference to Alastair Campbell, who recently resigned as Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief.

In earlier evidence, Gilligan said Kelly blamed Campbell for exaggerating the Iraq dossier.

Gilligan told the inquiry he saved the first version of his notes on his personal organizer during the course of his meeting with Kelly at London's Charing Cross Hotel on May 22.

At the end of the meeting, he then checked quotes with Kelly and made a number of revisions to his original notes which appeared on the organizer as the second version, Gilligan said.

It was the second version that contained the single word "Campbell."

Gilligan flatly denied a suggestion by counsel to the inquiry James Dingemans that he had actually made the second version the following day when he was writing up a handwritten note of the meeting.

The inquiry was told that the first version of the note was dated May 21 and the second May 22.

Computer analyst William Wilding, who examined the personal organizer, said there was evidence that its computer clock could have been "a day or so out of kilter" at the time of the meeting.

The date could have changed during the meeting if the clock "crossed midnight" while Gilligan and Kelly were at the Charing Cross Hotel.

Earlier Thursday, Ministry of Defence bosses said they did not need Kelly's permission to make his name public. (Full story)

Critics say the ministry's decision to confirm Kelly's name to journalists as a possible BBC source put him under enormous pressure and helped lead to his apparent suicide.

The inquiry, being led by Lord Hutton at London's Royal Courts of Justice, will continue until September 25, when Hutton will begin preparing his report.

Nobody is on trial but Hutton's conclusions could have serious repercussions for the BBC and the government, which opinion polls suggest is losing public trust over its policy on Iraq.


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