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(回答先: 自殺の博士を夢想家と批判 英報道官発言に反発広がる [kyodo.co.jp] 投稿者 ひろ 日時 2003 年 8 月 05 日 23:27:01)
No 10 apology for Kelly blunder
Matthew Tempest and Julia Day
Tuesday August 5, 2003
Tom Kelly, Tony Blair's official spokesman. Photo: PA.
The prime minister's official spokesman, Tom Kelly, today apologised "unreservedly" for using the phrase "Walter Mitty" in connection with the late government weapons expert David Kelly.
Mr Blair - now on holiday in the Caribbean - has faced calls to sack his press spokesman from one of his own backbenchers, Glenda Jackson, over the perceived slur.
In a statement today, Mr Kelly denied trying to discredit the former weapons inspector but admitted the briefing was a "mistake".
He said in a statement issued by No 10: "We have sought to keep briefing to a minimum in accordance with the prime minister's wishes.
"I deeply regret, therefore, that what I thought was a private conversation with a journalist last week has led to further public controversy.
"That was not my intention, nor, most emphatically, was I signalling a government strategy aimed at discrediting Dr Kelly, as I have explained to the deputy prime minister.
"What I was trying to do, at the request of several journalists, was to outline questions facing all the parties that the Hutton inquiry would have to address, but to do so in a way that made it clear that it was for the inquiry to reach its judgment on the conflicting evidence before it, not me, or the government.
"It was in that context that the phrase 'Walter Mitty' was used, but it was meant as one of several questions facing all parties, not as a definitive statement of my view, or that of the government.
"We were discussing questions, not answers.
"I now recognise that even that limited form of communication was a mistake, given the current climate.
"I, therefore, unreservedly apologise to Dr Kelly's widow and her family for having intruded on their grief."
However, there was no apology from Downing Street for yesterday attempting to deny the quote originated from them.
It was the Independent newspaper which yesterday quoted a "senior Whitehall official" as calling the dead scientist "a Walter Mitty", but the Guardian, FT, Telelgraph and Mail, which today fingered Tom Kelly (no relation) as the source of the comment.
But yesterday Downing Street had issued the following rebuttal denying responsibility, with the spokesman telling the lobby: "I don't know where this comment has come from, but we do want to make it absolutely clear that nobody with either the prime minister's or anybody else in Downing Street's approval would say such a thing."
Tom Kelly last night conceded that he had used the phrase "Walter Mitty" in a conversation with the Independent political correspondent, Paul Waugh.
However, a spokeswoman at Downing Street suggested that comments made by Mr Kelly may have been "misunderstood".
But Waugh insisted the remark was not a casual aside. "I know for a fact that I wasn't the only person who was sold this line. It certainly was not a throwaway line."
A No 10 spokeswoman confirmed today that the prime minister had been informed of the reports but refused to discuss his reaction.
"Everybody who needs to know knows and that includes the prime minister," she said.
Labour MP Glenda Jackson and the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Cambpell, have called for the sacking of the No 10 spokesman in the wake of his remarks.
Downing Street's communications operation is out of control said Ms Jackson, who accused No 10 of attempting to smear Dr Kelly's character after his apparent suicide. "No 10's capacity to disgust us would seem positively boundless," the Labour MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"We are in a situation where a man has lost its life, his family has been deprived of a husband and father and it would seem that No 10 is determined to take away his reputation. They are unspeakable.
"That this kind of smear tactics should be coming out of No 10 at this time is beneath contempt.
She continued: "It is to me beyond belief that someone who is the prime minister's official spokesperson should be engaging in a conversation on this level about a man who has so recently and tragically lost his life.
"In my view he should lose his job. I don't think he should be afforded the luxury of resigning - I think he should be sacked."
Her comments pile the pressure on Mr Kelly who is at currently in Northern Ireland, moving house.
Last night the Lib Dems said his position was untenable.
"The prime minister's credibility will entirely depend on how he now responds," Mr Campbell said.
The foreign affairs spokesman continued: "It is hard to see how such a serious error of judgment could possibly be justified. An immediate and unqualified apology is required."
The deputy prime minister, John Prescott, heading up the government while Mr Blair is on holiday in Barbados, has voiced strong disapproval of any attempt to "spin" against the late scientist.
Mr Prescott earlier said: "I do not believe these unsubstantiated remarks about Dr Kelly, which are attributed to a Whitehall source in The Independent.
"I trust that no one in government would comment on Dr Kelly at such a sensitive time, before the funeral and while the Hutton inquiry is under way." The affair has helped Labour's rating fall to a 16-year low, and trust in Tony Blair collapse, according to a new poll published in the Times.
The poll, taken between Friday and Sunday, reveals the extent of the damage done to Labour over Dr Kelly's death and the handling of the Iraq war.
Support for Labour stands at 34% - matching the lowest level recorded for the party in any poll since the 1987 general election. And more than half the public - 52% - trust Mr Blair very little or not at all.