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Analysts: Hutton a relief for Blair

David Kelly
Kelly's death led to the inquiry.

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• On the scene: Surprises to the end 
• Hutton statement: Key quotes 
• Timeline: The Kelly affair 

• Full text: Lord Hutton's report external link
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HUTTON'S KEY FINDINGS

Kelly took his own life

No one should have known Kelly would take his life

BBC report that government dossier was "sexed-up" was unfounded

BBC's editorial system was defective in allowing report to air without approval

Government did not behave dishonorably concerning Kelly's identity

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Lord Hutton's report into the death of weapons expert David Kelly will come as a great relief for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, analysts said.

The judge said Wednesday the government did not act in a "dishonorable, underhand or duplicitous" way in exposing the scientist as the source of a BBC report claiming Blair's office "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's weapons to justify war.

CNN's European Political Editor Robin Oakley said Blair would be glad to have had his demand for an apology from opposition Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, who claimed Blair had misled MPs by saying he was not responsible for releasing Kelly's name to journalists.

"The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House (of Commons) or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD (weapons of mass destruction) is itself the real lie," Blair said.

Oakley said Hutton vindicated Blair. "There was a tremendous sense from Blair of the strain he has faced in the last few months over accusations he lied on Iraq's WMD," he added.

Peter Stothard, a former editor of The Times and a Blair biographer, said that despite great uncertainty the report could not be better for Blair. "The Hutton report ... this huge express train ... has been bearing down on London. No one knew what was in it but there will be no lasting damage for the government.

"The PM had a real spring in his step following the publication of the report ... he's vindicated on almost every point. He couldn't have asked for much more from Hutton."

Stothard added that although Blair had the problem of a divided Labour party behind him, the report "will strengthen him ... in contrast to some reports today that he will be weakened."

He told CNN that many at the BBC are likely to be considering their positions after the corporation was criticized for its reporting and accountability.

"The governors have been very severely criticized ... they have two important jobs, to regulate the BBC and to protect it from outside interference. It seems they did a lot of protecting from the government but not enough at investigating and regulating.

"Hutton is very critical of that and a lot of very senior people at the BBC will be thinking about where they stand now."


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