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British Defense Ministry Denies BBC Sought Comment on Weapons Report - 2003-08-18

A top British defense ministry official says the British Broadcasting Corporation failed to seek the ministry's comment before airing a controversial report on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The ministry's news director Pam Teare told a panel investigating the death of weapons expert David Kelly that ministry telephone logs do not support BBC statements that it asked the ministry to review the story before its broadcast May 29.

Ms. Teare said Monday she was surprised at what she called the categorical way the BBC said it had checked the story which charged that the Blair goverment had exaggerated evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to strengthen its case for war.

Mr. Kelly apparently committed suicide last month after he was identified as the source for the BBC claim of Blair government exaggerations to bolster the case for war. Prime Minister Tony Blair's government denied doing so, touching off a bitter dispute with the broadcasting service.

Government Communications chief Alastair Campbell will take the stand in the inquiry Tuesday to explain his denial of reports that he played a key role in altering the dossier to make the arms issue appear more threatening.