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July 18, 2003
Shock and questions over Kelly death
by pa news and madeleine acey
Friends, neighbours and MPs all reacted with shock today at the apparent death of Dr David Kelly. A body matching that of the biological weapons expert involved in the Iraq dossier row between the BBC and Downing Street was found in woods today after he was reported missing last night.
The role of spin
Richard Ottaway, a Tory MP and member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that interviewed Dr Kelly over the dossier row, said this afternoon that it would be a "tragedy of ghastly proportions" if "political machinations" had resulted in the death of Dr Kelly.
"What I do regret is the way that he was quite obviously used by the government and the Ministry of Defence in this situation," he told Sky News.
"He clearly was not the key source in the story and the revelations that came out, obviously it was someone else, and the way that an innocent scientist was used in this, I think demands an inquiry at the highest level.
"It brings now into question this whole regime of spin and manipulation ... by the government and its advisers. This really does bring it home. For this to happen is a ghastly, ghastly tragedy."ﾊ
"BBC to blame"
Robert Jackson, Dr Kelly's local MP, said that if he had committed suicide, the BBC was to blame. Corporation bosses should have confirmed that Dr Kelly was not the source after the Select Committee reached that conclusion, the Tory MP for Wantage said.
"It was wrong for David Kelly to talk to a journalist and right for the Government to have instigated a leak inquiry to investigate it. The Government can't be blamed for that.
"The question then is pressure he came under. The pressure was significantly increased by the fact the BBC refused to make it clear he was not the source."
Rod Liddle, the former editor of the Today programme, told Sky News: "I would have thought Andrew (Gilligan) was worried, frightened and pretty sickened by what's happened. These are terrifying developments.
"We want to know what sort of pressure Dr Kelly had been put under by the Government or anybody else, but particularly the Government.
"Quite clearly there was a concerted effort to root out whoever had had the temerity to speak to a journalist, supposedly out of turn."
Mr Liddle, who left the BBC before the May 29 broadcast, praised Mr Gilligan as "an incredibly conscientious and dedicated journalist" and said that neither he nor the BBC should be blamed for today's events.
Neighbours who knew Dr Kelly, his wife Janice, their eldest daughter Sian, 32, and their twins Rachel and Ellen, 30, said that they were a "lovely family".
Ann Lewis, who has lived in Southmoor for 20 years, said: "He never discussed his work, he was a straightforward family man. We just knew him as Mr Kelly from the village.
"I feel very shocked and saddened for David's family. It's a great loss."
Mrs Lewis's daughter used to go riding with Dr and Mrs Kelly's children when they were younger. She added: "He used to ride horses around the village. He was always a smart, tidy man.
"He was not a vivacious sort of man, just a perfectly normal, run-of-the-mill man to speak to."
Eric Illsley, a Labour member of the committee, called the death a "sinister twist to the whole inquiry".
"In my long experience of select committees I cannot recall anything remotely similar to this. I find it incredible that someone who had given evidence to a select committee on any subject should disappear in circumstances like this," he said.
John Maples, a Tory member of the committee, said: "There must be more to this than we had thought. I do not know what that means, I just think there is."
Kelly "very stressed"
Tom Mangold, a television journalist and close friend of Dr Kelly, said that he had spoken to Janice, the Ministry of Defence scientist's wife, this morning. She had said that her husband was deeply unhappy and furious at how events had unfurled.
Mr Mangold told ITV News: "She told me he had been under considerable stress, that he was very, very angry about what had happened at the [Foreign Affairs] committee, that he wasn't well, that he had been to a safe house, he hadn't liked that, he wanted to come home.
"She didn't use the word depressed, but she said he was very very stressed and unhappy about what had happened and this was really not the kind of world he wanted to live in."
Mr Mangold, Dr Kelly's friend, said that the scientist was a source to many reporters. His ambition was to help serious journalists understand a complex topic. "He was a man whose brain could boil water, he used words with tremendous precision, he used them as weapons," he said.
"There was nothing he didn't know about biological warfare and there wasn't much he didn't know about WMD."
"Journalists have to look to consciences"
Mr Mangold expressed anger at the way Dr Kelly had been treated in recent weeks. He said: "If Dave Kelly is dead, he is dead because of something that happened in journalism which means that we all have to look to our consciences," he said.
"He was not passionately interested in journalism or journalists, he was passionately interested in what happens in Iraq. That was one of the reasons why Saddam Hussein wanted him out more than anybody else.
"If he is dead - and I hope he is not - he is a tremendous loss to the good guys who were working in Iraq."
Steve Ward, landlord of the Hind's Head pub in Abingdon where Dr Kelly had played cards and drank mineral water, said that he had not noticed any change in Dr Kelly's behaviour.
He said: "He was the most level-headed sensible person I've ever come across, so genuine, so straightforward.
"They were a typical, normal everyday English family. I can't believe that he would do anything like this. He never talked about work - but none of us do - except to say he was going to Iraq or New York.
"He's done nothing wrong. Since the story broke, the feeling here is that Government cronies have been making a scapegoat out of somebody."