The inquiry's terms of reference are "urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly".
The inquiry was instigated by the British government on July 18, 2003, and opened on August 1. Hearings began on August 11. The first phase of the inquiry closed on the 4th September. A second session of witness-calling began on Monday 15th September, where some witnesses from the first session, such as BBC correspondent Andrew Gilligan, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, BBC chairman Gavyn Davies and out-going Downing Street communications impresario Alistair Campbell were recalled for further questions arising from the first phase and some witnesses were called for the first time. The taking of evidence closed on Wednesday 24th September. The inquiry heard evidence on 22 days, lasting 110 hours, from 74 witnesses. Examination and cross-examination came from four QCs, representing the Government, the BBC, the Kelly family and Andrew Gilligan.
The government, specifically the Prime Minister's press office, was accused of "sexing up" or embellishing the dossier with unjustified allegations about Iraq's military capabilities, and BBC radio, particularly BBC Radio 4, was in turn accused of poor journalism.
Hutton initially announced that he expected to be able to deliver his report in late November or early December. It has now been announced that the report will be published January 28, 2004. Lord Hutton is to retire as a Law Lord following the publication of the report.