By Ray Fleming
IT will surprise no one, except perhaps Lord Hutton himself, to learn that the investigation into the source of the leak of the Hutton report to the Sun newspaper last January has drawn a blank.

The Sun accurately reported some of the main points of the report several hours before any of its rivals. The solicitor to the Hutton inquiry was asked to carry out a full and careful investigation into the leak, and claims to have done so, albeit without result.

However, it appears that he did not trouble to question the Sun's political editor, the redoubtable Trevor Kavanagh who admits that he was given details from the report over the telephone.

He would not have revealed his source, of course, but it is odd that he was not even formally invited to do so. Mr Kavanagh has always insisted that his source had “nothing to gain financially or politically, no axe to grind, no vested interest.” Leak inquiries of this kind are almost always a waste of time and money. But those in authority continue to insist on holding them. The latest example, revealed by the Sunday Times last weekend, is that No 10 is holding a high level inquiry into the leak of a document which outlined the steps being taken in Whitehall to uncover the source of previous leaks! It is understandable that ministers and senior officials become angry when what they regard as their secrets are leaked; but one answer to their problem would be the acceptance of the need for greater freedom of information in Whitehall.

Until that happens newspapers will seek to get at the news by any means open to them before it is handed down to them in pre-packaged form by a press officer. That is their job.

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