LONDON -- BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan resigned yesterday after a judicial inquiry repudiated his reporting that the government "sexed up" intelligence on Iraq -- the third resignation prompted by the harsh criticism.
The controversy has sent a chill through British media, with senior journalists warning it could impede tough investigative reporting.
In a statement, Gilligan apologized for mistakes in his May 2003 story.
"My departure is at my own initiative," he said. "But the BBC collectively has been the victim of a grave injustice.
"I love the BBC and I am resigning because I want to protect it. I accept my part in the crisis which has befallen the organization. But a greater part has been played by the unbalanced judgments" of senior judge Lord Hutton, Gilligan said.
In a statement, the British Broadcasting Corp. confirmed Gilligan's resignation and said it recognized "it is a very difficult time for him."
Hutton was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair to investigate the suicide of David Kelly, a scientist caught up in the dispute between the government and the BBC about the case for war in Iraq. Hutton said the BBC was wrong when it quoted an anonymous source as saying officials inflated intelligence to justify war.
Besides Gilligan, the BBC's two top officials -- chairman Gavyn Davies and director general Greg Dyke -- also have resigned; the BBC apologized to the government after the inquiry.
"Adjectives like `abject' and `servile' come to mind," said Sir David Attenborough, who held a string of BBC management posts in the 1960s. "It is a sad day when that kind of groveling is required."
On Wednesday, the judge exonerated Blair's government and excoriated the BBC for what he called an "unfounded" report and "defective" editorial procedures.
Dyke said he and other BBC officials were "absolutely shocked" by Hutton's report.
"We were shocked that it was so black and white," he told the GMTV morning television program yesterday. "We knew mistakes had been made by us but we didn't believe they were only by us."
Dyke later said the judge had "given the benefit of doubt to every government witness and not to any at the BBC."
Hutton absolved Blair and officials of "sexing up" the September 2002 dossier or mistreating Kelly, who committed suicide in July after he was identified as the source for the BBC's story.