The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Monday, August 25, 2003
Hutton: Today woes continue...
A small but telling point in today's Today.
Around 0755, presenter James Naughtie was chewing the fat with ubiquitous Liberal Menzies Campbell (no relation!) and journo (and Blair biographer) John Rentoul on matters Hutton, and, in particular, the appearance at the Inquiry, scheduled for Thursday, of Blair himself.
Naughtie was pleased to reveal that he had been reading one or two of the transcripts - given Today's place in the Kelly affair, one might have thought its senior presenters would have read all of them, perhaps? - and commented on counsel James Dingemans's tendency to ask a question, listen to the answer and ask another. Rentoul joshed that, if Naughtie and his colleagues adopted a similar approach, they would soon be hearing from their superiors.
It was left to the aged Campbell to point out the fact - fundamental to the structure of the Inquiry as laid down at the start by Lord Hutton himself - that this method was deliberately chosen so as most effectively to lead the key elements of the mountain of evidence Hutton had received; and that Stage 2, cross-examination, was likely to be an altogether more testing business.
(Only fair to point out that the Stage 1 neutral approach has not prevented counsel engaging in some mordant satire; for example, as already mentioned here (August 22), in the examination of the unwisely familiar No 10 spinner Godric Smith.)
The fact that Naughtie had so patently failed to grasp such a fundamental aspect of a judicial inquiry investigating his own programme gives one little confidence about the quality of the rest of the Today product.
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