The "Committee Member" is Andrew MacKinlay MP for Thurrock 1992-2010
Posted by Morrissey on January 27, 2023, 7:26 pm
Body found in search for missing WMD expert AM Archive - Saturday, 19 July , 2003 08:08:00 Reporter: Matt Peacock
HAMISH ROBERTSON: A body has been discovered by British police, which appears to be that of the man at the centre of the row between the BBC and the Blair Labour Government.
Doctor David Kelly, who was named as being possibly the Department of Defence mole who leaked a story to the BBC suggesting the Government had "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, gave evidence before a Parliamentary inquiry this week.
Yesterday, he told his wife he was going for a walk in the countryside near his home.
He never returned.
Matt Peacock reports.
MATT PEACOCK: Already Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised an independent inquiry into the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death, should the body police found a short distance from his home be confirmed to be his.
Acting Superintendent David Purnell.
DAVID PURNELL: The formal identification of the body that we found in Harrowdown Hill will not take place until tomorrow.
But what I can say is that the description of the man found there matches the description of Dr David Kelly.
I think clearly at this very difficult time our condolences must go out to his family, friends and work colleagues.
Thames Valley Police is currently treating this incident as an unexplained death, whilst we wait the results of the post mortem and while forensic examinations continue at the scene in Harrowdown Hill.
MATT PEACOCK: Dr Kelly, an expert on weapons of mass destruction, found himself at the centre of the ongoing row between the BBC and the Blair Government after he told his employer, the British Ministry of Defence, that he'd held an unauthorised meeting with the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, who reported that a senior unnamed intelligence source had told him the Government had 'sexed up' the dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, which was published last September.
When he appeared before a Parliamentary Inquiry into the matter earlier this week Dr Kelly denied he was the source of the story, a view that the committee also held.
COMMITTEE MEMBER: I reckon you're chaff, you've been thrown up to divert our probing.
Ever felt like a fall guy? I mean you've been set up haven't you?
DAVID KELLY: That's not a question I can answer.
COMMITTEE MEMBER: Are you sure of that?
DAVID KELLY: No, I accept the processes going on.
COMMITTEE MEMBER: Sorry? I accept?
DAVID KELLY: I accept the processes that's happening.
MATT PEACOCK: But whether Dr Kelly really did accept the process he found himself a part of now remains open to question.
Committee Chairman Donald Anderson says that he appeared reasonably relaxed about his public questioning.
DONALD ANDERSON: I didn't get the impression that he was deeply worried or nervous, and indeed the questioning was really probing, rather than aggressive questioning.
MATT PEACOCK: Dr Kelly was well recognised as an expert on weapons of mass destruction and he'd served also as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq, alongside Garth Witty, a defence expert now with the Royal United Services Institute.
GARTH WITTY: He was highly professional and recognised internationally as a subject matter expert, particularly in the field of biological weapons and defence from them.
And what was hard working wasn't someone who sought the limelight, it was someone who was listened to and certainly knew his subject extremely well.
MATT PEACOCK: Should, as seems highly likely, the body be determined to be that of Dr Kelly's, it will once again plunge into Blair Government under immense political pressure over the events surrounding the publication of its controversial dossier.
The independent inquiry that's been promised by Tony Blair has been one that he's resisted up until now, against a growing clamour from opposition parties and even anti-war members within his own party.
In particular the role of Mr Blair's communications director, Alistair Campbell, will be called into question, despite a ruling by the Commons Committee that he played no role in exaggerating government claims about Iraqi weapons.
From London, this is Matt Peacock for Saturday AM.