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BBC reporter quits over dossier report

Andrew Gilligan, the reporter at the center of the bitter dispute between the British Broadcasting Corp. and the British government over whether the government had exaggerated the case for war against Iraq, resigned Friday.

Gilligan follows the BBC's top two officials, who left their posts after a scathing judicial report that accused him of sloppy reporting and accused his employers of a host of journalistic and management failures.

Gilligan, 35, acknowledged he had made mistakes in the initial radio broadcast that touched off the furor. But he maintained that "most of my story was right" and said that the report had "imposed on the BBC a punishment far out of proportion to its own or my mistakes, which were honest ones."

The BBC, Gilligan said, "collectively has been the victim of a grave injustice."

In the May 29 broadcast, Gilligan said the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair "probably knew" that information it included in an intelligence dossier released in September 2002 was false and that it had "sexed up" the report to bolster its case for invading Iraq.

The broadcast infuriated the government, which complained bitterly to Gilligan's superiors, who in turn defended their reporter without, they later acknowledged, examining his broadcast.

A report Wednesday by a senior Britishjudge, Lord Hutton, absolved the government of any wrongdoing in the matter.

Also . . .

DUTCH EMBASSY ATTACKED: Attackers fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the Dutch Embassy in Iraq on Friday night, hitting the roof with one and setting it on fire. The blaze was quickly extinguished, and there were no injuries.

U.N. TEAM MIGHT BE SENT: A United Nations team might leave in the next few days to assess the possibility of elections in Iraq, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday.

Annan had said previously the U.S.-led coalition must guarantee security for the team before it is sent.

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