The BBC yesterday ignored Alastair Campbell's declaration of a temporary truce in the row over the Government's Iraqi dossiers by giving fresh details to a Commons inquiry as to why it was justified in running a story that accused Downing Street of "sexing up" the documents.
With Downing Street attempting to denigrate the BBC's journalism on the grounds that the Today programme's story was based on a single anonymous source, the corporation set out to defend its handling of the story.
In its evidence to the Commons foreign affairs select committee, which is investigating the dispute, the BBC said that its source was "well-placed" and had a proven track record, having provided correct information that formed the basis of two previous stories.
Although the source's identity was not disclosed to the committee, the BBC said it was also known to Richard Sambrook, the BBC's head of news, and Kevin Marsh, the editor of Today. It has also since been made known to Greg Dyke, the director-general.
The corporation claimed that, at a time when intelligence service sources were briefing the media about their unhappiness over the Government's use of their information, it had been justified in broadcasting such a story.
The BBC argued that the issue was not one of the story's truth or falsehood but one of whether it was a "reasonable" story to run at the time. The select committee is due to report next week on whether the dossier on Iraq's WMDs was "sexed up". The BBC is understood to be anxious to submit its evidence quickly because it is concerned that Downing Street is using its influence on Labour members of the committee.
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