Thursday 29 January 2004

Judge Hutton's "First stone" judgment

Next time just keep breathing
For weeks, we waited anxiously for the final words that would clear the air regarding the circumstances around Dr David Kelly's death.
After the verdict came, we could have continued breathing as normal all along, because none of the presumed guilty were daubed by the least of criticisms. Instead, the BBC, the public organ and bastion of global broadcasting found itself bereft of both a chairman and director-general in the space of 24 hours.
This was a pyrrhic sort of victory for the Mr Tony Blair, Mr Geoff Hoon and the maharajah of spin, the erstwhile Director of Communications – Alastair Campbell, in that they were comprehensively exonerated on all counts in view of the narrowest scope of the Hutton inquiry.
For one fault of the BBC, it was scalped, maligned, besmirched, debased and practically ridiculed. Judge Hutton might not have realised the repercussions but there be many, that he has nonetheless inflicted, which happens to be 70; just as he is.
BBC will still be here afterwards
For one, 70 years of BBC would go on to be 140 years with all the dramatis personae dead, buried and most definitely forgotten to the importance of the issues of the day.
Mr Blair could have stood 10 feet tall at the pronouncements, but it simply stressed with no let the need to realise that a man's life was forfeited for the sake of a failing government's honour. No much difference from the inhumanity meted out to women in the Indian/Pakistani rural areas regarding honour killings.
Why we went to war on the basis of evidence shaking to bits like a town hit by an earthquake registering 8.3 on the Richter scale.
Public opinion differs
In a court larger than the chambers wherein Judge Hutton had his deliberations, one is met with a certain bewilderment as to how the BBC took so much flack and everyone else got a sweet, a pat, a prize or a commendation.
Dr David Kelly who was sacrificed on the wobbly altar of the dodgy dossier might as well be offered up a sweet smelling savour of a judicial inquiry on the whole war debate and why we were so strongly persuaded to distraction about the elusive Weapons on Mass Destruction.
Casting the first stone
However, on another view, there was once a woman who committed adultery punishable by stoning to death. The man of the time was Jesus, to whom the accusers being great professors of law brought the offender seeking Jesus' of the law of the time.
Crime and punishment being the crucible on which society has burnished civilisation, Jesus pronounced the required judgement but one the proviso that the one without sin cast the first stone.
Now, He, Jesus could have offered to cast the first stone, being without sin, but He was not one of the accusers.
Let it be known, that the first stone may not have killed the woman, probably not even touched her, but each successive stone would have brought great pain and death so slowly and unfailingly – no man's heart being touched on the premise that the victim has been sacrificed on the altar of societal decency.
However, a conviction swept over the accusers and each one from the oldest to the youngest realised their frailty of sin and left without as much of a mutter.
Left alone with woman, Jesus enquired of her accusers having busied Himself with doodling in the sand all the while. Jesus then said, "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more".
The caption picture
In the case of Dr Kelly, the BBC did cast the first stone in publishing the report about the 45-minute claim, which might have been unfounded, but that first stone was not what killed Dr Kelly.
It is the machinations of the Ministry of Defence; skulduggery of Downing Street; the lobbyist apparatus that pervades the politics of the day and the craving for credibility, which would have made no difference to our perception of the way New Labour has spun every event into a whirlwind tornado
Those issues altogether created the unbearable situation in which Dr Kelly found himself and led to his committing suicide.
In the name of justice and all it represents, for Judge Hutton to have seen only the slinging of the first stone and pronounced the victim dead regardless of the damage caused by other stones is wanting in judicious expertise to say the least.
Thankfully, the judge was never in the position that Jesus was in to pronounce the proviso to judgement; one might say in view of certain comments made about Dr Kelly by the judge –
"Shoot him down with a WMD for briefing beyond his remit".
He would have proclaimed from the bench.

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