The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The emerging Gilligan problem

Making a preliminary skim of Day 2's transcripts [1], a couple of things strike me:

  1. How precision with words is so often an issue in the Kelly case (there's a Day 1 exchange (I can't put my finger on for the moment) where reference is made to the unhappiness of some in the UKIC on the wording of the September dossier; the civil servant witness says that the intelligence chaps are pernickety about language, and Hutton or Dingemans drolls to the effect that lawyers can be that way, too).

    And yet Gilligan is so persistently imprecise: in recording words, recollecting them, formulating the intended meaning of his stories.

  2. More generally, how everything about Gilligan - appearance, demeanour, voice, dress, speech patterns; as well as what he actually says - conspires to create an impression of a flake.

    The appalling impression of evasiveness from his July 17 session with the FASC persists in the transcript of his Hutton evidence.

    But it's not the evasiveness of a good con-man, who evades the truth whilst succeeding in avoiding telegraphing the fact. It sometimes feels that he could not tell you the time without some heartsink equvocation or caveat that took just long enough to make you lose your train.

    He reminds me of Norman Wisdom in one of his lesser cinematic roles.

    I wonder whether it's a fear of dead air (a nightmare for all broadcasters, I'd imagine): that, if he just answered Yes to a question, he'd find the resulting pause too great a strain.

Immense relief, therefore, to get onto Susan Watts (the Newsnight reporter). She's organised, clear-thinking - and there's a little humour, too.

For instance, on Kelly's views on the 45 minute claim - much the same as given to Gilligan, she says:
I had no reason to believe that he had particular access that would make that a comment that I would want to use with confidence in a Newsnight report.

In other words, whatever they do on the Today programme, on Newsnight we have standards!

A LOL moment from the BBC, at last!

  1. Morning and afternoon.

  2. Afternoon transcript p176 L15.

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