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Alastair Campbell versus Andrew Gilligan

By Rags Martel

Updated on 12 January 2010

Reporter Andrew Gilligan accused Alastair Campbell of ''sexing up'' the report that made the government's case for war in Iraq. Rags Martel looks at the feud that has lasted nearly seven years.

Andrew Gilligan and Alastair Campbell (Credit: Reuters)

The appearance at the Chilcot inquiry of former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell had been hotly anticipated.

One man watching with a particularly keen eye was former BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. He had accused Tony Blair's government of "sexing up" the September 2002 report into Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Alastair Campbell told the Iraq Inquiry the sole author of the dossier was Sir John Scarlett, the then chair of the Joint Intelligence committee.

He said, "The whole way through it could not have been made clearer to everybody that nothing would override the intelligence judgements and that John Scarlet was the person who, if you like, had the single pen."

Mr Campbell said memos he had sent to Sir John beforehand never pressurised him to exaggerate Saddam's threat. "Not a single one of them at any time sought to question, override, re-write, let alone, to use the ghastly "sex-up" phrase, in any way, at any time on any level."

Andrew Gilligan still stands by his original claim, that Alastair Campbell's involvement led to the "sexing up" of the dossier.

"The documentary evidence shows that Campbell did pressurise John Scarlett. In his own words, he said 'Sorry to bombard but the nuclear issue is not right and we have got to change it' and it was changed.

"The fact is that virtually every claim in that dossier was wrong. Some of that was due to the failings of intelligence but some of it was due to the way it was sexed-up.".

It is a disagreement that has lasted for nearly seven years.

To this day, the two men are sticking to their own interpretation of events

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