Ministry of defence chiefs
ordered an audit of all employees whose jobs involve contact with the media.
The audit, revealed in an internal memo released under the freedom of information act (FOIA), followed Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the death of the weapons inspector, Dr David Kelly, who had been the source for a report by Andrew Gilligan on Radio 4’s Today programme claiming that Tony Blair’s government misled the public about the intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear capability.
The inquiry found that Kelly had contacts with journalists other than Gilligan, and discussed similar issues with at least one of them.
The MoD’s personnel director, Richard Hatfield, wrote in the memo, dated March 22, 2004, that the department ordered an “immediate audit to identify all posts which involve media contact and ensure post-holders understand their responsib-ilities.”
The audit identified 40 departments or sections of the MoD that were authorised to brief the media.
The MoD also updated guidance it issued staff, in the form of a defence council Instruction, over “contacts with the media”. This was also released under FOIA and would, said Hatfield in his memo, “reflect with more simplicity and clarity the rules on contact with the media and the procedures for gaining authorisation to speak to the media.”
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