BBC chiefs back Dyke in dossier row

The BBC Board of Governors have put their weight behind Director General Greg Dyke and his news team in the Iraq dossier row with Downing Street.

Following a crunch meeting lasting more than two hours, the BBC board supported the Today programme's report into the September intelligence dossier relating to Iraq.

They said "exceptional circumstances" had allowed for its use despite only being based on a single source.

The Board also said the BBC had never accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of lying or of seeking to take Britain into war under misleading or false pretences.

And it emphatically rejected claims by Downing Street's director of communications Alastair Campbell that the BBC's coverage of the war had been based on an agenda against the conflict.

Mr Dyke and the governors held an extraordinary meeting at Broadcasting House in central London in advance of the publication of the Foreign Affairs Committee report on Iraq on Monday.

The meeting had come as the row with the Government had intensified earlier when Mr Blair warned that the BBC's allegations that the dossier on Iraq's weapons had been "sexed up" was a serious attack on his integrity.

The row centred on a Radio 4 Today programme story by Defence Correspondent Andrew Gilligan on May 29 which alleged that intelligence officials were unhappy about the September 2002 dossier.

Downing Street said it had been accused of lying in the report. The BBC denied it had accused Mr Blair of lying or misleading Parliament.

The Gilligan report was based on a single but reliable source, according to the BBC. And the Board of Governors backed that decision and said the Today programme had properly followed the BBC's Producers' Guidelines in its handling of the report.

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