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19 From the Litigation Department

Our ref SJllegal/rm3524 Your ref . Phil Woolas MP Deputy Leader of the House of Commons _ 2 Carlton Gardens London SW1Y 5AA BY FAX 020 7219 0992 AND EMAIL woolasp@oarliame nt uk; PSPWoolasa_pco x gsi gov uk

Direct Line 020 8752 4339 Fax Line . 020 8752 5080 3 July 2003

Dear Mr Woolas We have considered your letter to Mr Gilligan dated 26" June 2003 and his reply to you of 28`h June 2003 . In your letter to Mr Gilligan you allege that he claimed to-the Foreign Affairs Committee ("FAC") that "the only allegation [he] had made against the Government was that it gave `undue prominence' to the point about 45 minutes". You list in an attachment to your letter the allegations you say he had previously made. From this premise you conclude that the BBC is "in full retreat" from the allegations listed in the attachment, because it knows them to be untrue . The charge you make against Mr Gilligan is very serious it is also demonstrably untrue and could have been checked by accessing Mr Gilligan's evidence on the Internet We are of the view that your letter was defamatory of Mr Gilligan
Your letter was released to the media (before it had even been received by Mr Gilligan) and predictably attracted considerable coverage The letter was written by you expressly as a Minister of the Crown and a member of the All Party BBC Group . The issues it raises are of obvious public interest.

Mr Gilligan is not interested in obtaining financial compensation from you for having made these comments Both Mr Gilligan and the BBC's primary objective is for the dispute to be resolved and for the record to be set straight in the least costly way possible . It is clearly desirable that these issues are resolved as soon as possible in fairness to all concerned . To this end we suggest arbitration by a former High Court judge or Queen's Counsel as soon as practicable. Since the issues turn entirely on a comparison between what Mr Gilligan said to the FAC and what he has said or wrtten on previous occasions, they can be resolved in a very short time frame, on very Ilmited documents with no need for oral submissions or indeed any written statements of case . We believe that your letter, the transcript of Mr Gdligan's evidence to the FAC and the publications referred to in your attachment (so that the meanings of the passages you have selected are seen in their proper context) would suffice


We define the issues as follows. 1 Whether it is true or false that, as alleged by you, Mr Gilligan claimed in his evidence to the FAC that the only allegation he had made against the Government was that the Government had given undue prominence to the 45 minute point (meaning the reference on page 19 of the dossier produced by the Government in September 2002 and entitled "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction") . Whether d is true or false that, as alleged by you, Mr Gilligan omitted from his evidence to the FAC reference to any and, if so, which of the following criticisms publicly made by him beforehand, (a) (b) That he was told by his source that most people in intelligence weren't happy with the dossier; That he was told by his source that the Government probably knew that the 45 minute figure was wrong and/or questionable before it decided to put it in, That he was told by his source that the intelligence agencies oo not believe that the 45 minute claim was necessarily true; That he was told by his source of Alastair Campbell/Downing Street's role in adding the 45 minute point and transforming the dossier.



The findings of the arbitrator would be final and made public . The BBC and Mr Gilligan will provide a suitably worded written waiver of any legal claim against you arising from publication of your letter on your prompt agreement to arbitration of the above issues You may be aware that The Times has a well established arbitral panel of former judges and practising QCs who specialise in libel Mr Gilligan would be content for any one of these to be appointed. We ask for your response by close of business on Friday . This letter is written with the express approval of Mr Gilligan as well as the BBC, Yours sincerely

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BBC Litigation Department

Copy Andrew Gdligan Richard Sambrook

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