THE ghost of Lord Hutton walked through Whitehall this week. The team that has been trying to discover the source of the leak of his report to the Sun newspaper on the day before its publication in January admitted that it had been unable to discover the guilty party. This is not surprising; very few government leak inquiries are able to point a finger at anybody. Trevor Kavanagh, the political editor of the Sun, said that he would take the identity of his source with him to the grave; he said that the story came from a long-standing source who had no axe to grind and who received no payment. If that is really so, why should anyone with access to the report want to leak it to Mr Kavanagh? His comment is disingenuous, surely?
THE Hutton report also came up at hearings of the House of Commons' Public Administration Select Committee which is looking into government communications. Its star witness was Alastair Campbell who was asked what he thought of the mass of e-mails and other documents that had flowed from Downing Street to the Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly. Had this unusual public access to normally confidential documentation led officials to be more circumspect about what they would commit to paper in future? Mr Campbell thought not. In fact he admitted that in this respect the Hutton inquiry may have been useful: It showed that if you veer towards openness and you find the world does not come to an end, it may be no bad thing. We should trust the public more because I think they are canny enough to spot when they are spun a line. More disingenuity perhaps?
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