Bahai News -- The Guardian - Kelly to be buried today Special report: David Kelly

9.30am

Kelly to be buried today

'Of all forms of death, suicide is probably the hardest for a family to cope with, as it leaves so many unanswered questions' said David Kelly's friend and colleague Professor Alistair Hay today


Chris Tryhorn
Wednesday August 6, 2003

The family of David Kelly is holding a private funeral for the government weapons expert today at a church overlooking the spot where he apparently committed suicide.

His wife Janice, 58, eldest daughter Sian, 32, and twins Ellen and Rachel, 30, will be joined by up to 160 mourners for the service at St Mary's Church in the Oxfordshire village of Longworth.

John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, will be representing the government at the service in the absence of Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, who decided to go ahead with his family holiday in America.

Dr Kelly's friend Tom Mangold, a journalist who is making a film about the events that led to the scientist's death, said: "I think we will be sending to his destiny a man who did so much for peace and who did so much to counteract evil and, ironically, one of the few people who would have discovered the evidence of the programme of weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq]."

Police are setting up a cordon to keep the media out of Longworth and nearby Southmoor, where Dr Kelly lived, as the family seek to preserve the "privacy and dignity" of the occasion.

Under the auspices of Thames Valley police, the Press Association and Sky News in the UK are providing a pooled report of the funeral.

Other media have been asked not to intend in respect of the family's request for privacy.

In a statement yesterday the police said they were aware of the "vast" media interest in the funeral but said no other media should enter Longworth or Southmoor today.

The funeral should mark a temporary suspension in the war of words that continues in relation to the apparent suicide of Dr Kelly.

Yesterday Mr Prescott was forced to apologise to the Kelly family after the prime minister's official spokesman, Tom Kelly, branded him a "Walter Mitty" type character who may have exaggerated his own importance.

The remarks, made in an off-the-record briefing to journalists, were initially denied by Downing Street but Mr Kelly later admitted he made the comment and also apologised "unreservedly" to the scientist's family.

Tony Blair, who appealed for restraint following the discovery of Dr Kelly's body in an Oxfordshire wood on July 18, is still facing calls for his spokesman to be sacked.

Labour MP Glenda Jackson yesterday said the remarks were "obscene" and Mr Kelly should not have the luxury of resigning.

Dr Kelly's former colleague Professor Alistair Hay also said Mr Kelly should "consider his position".

Prof Hay revealed in an article in today's Daily Mail he understood what the family was going through because his own wife of 32 years had committed suicide after suffering depression.

"Of all forms of death, suicide is probably the hardest for a family to cope with as it leaves so many unanswered questions. The gaping sense of loss is compounded by bewilderment," said the professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University.

"It is bitterly ironic that a government saw fit to employ Dr Kelly at the highest level, which trumpeted his expertise and praised his work for the United Nations, should now turn on him so monstrously," he said.

"Downing Street, unlike David Kelly, has not shown any respect for the truth. It appears interested only in bullying and abuse to back up its own propaganda," he added.

Prof Hay will not be attending today's funeral because he has an inquest to attend in Leeds.

In the Mail today he also described how discreet Dr Kelly had been through his professional life and that, if he had voiced scepticism about the government's Iraq dossier to BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, it would have been because his concerns were deeply felt.

"In the past, he had always been completely trustworthy and would never divulge any government secrets; in fact, in our talks, I often longed for him to do so, but I knew he never would," wrote Prof Hay.

The vicar of St Mary's, the Rev Roy Woodhams, said Dr Kelly's relatives wanted few details of the 2pm service to be revealed in advance.

He added: "Dr Kelly's wife and daughters have had an awful lot of media attention in the past few weeks and there will be more with Lord Hutton's inquiry.

"I think they just wanted to keep this one occasion private and for themselves."

The tiny 13th century church is flying the union flag at half mast for the service, which will last for about 40 minutes.

Dr Kelly will be laid to rest in the churchyard in the shadow of the north side of the building.

Visible just over a mile away is Harrowdown Hill, where Dr Kelly's body was found with a slashed left wrist and an open packet of painkillers.

The order of service is expected to feature elements of the Baha'i religion, to which the 59-year-old Dr Kelly converted four years ago while studying in the US.

His family is said to have chosen Baha'i prayers from a selection made by followers at his local Baha'i centre in Abingdon.

The Baha'i faith dates back to 1844 and has five million followers across the world, with about 6,000 in the UK.

They believe "the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens" but do not advocate suicide.

· To contact the MediaGuardian newsdesk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 7239 9857

©Copyright 2003, The Guardian (UK)

Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/kelly/story/0,13747,1013249,00.html


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