Bahai News -- Sify News - 19 days on, UK arms expert Kelly buried

19 days on, UK arms expert Kelly buried

Wednesday, 06 August , 2003, 15:42

Longworth: David Kelly, the weapons expert at the centre of an uproar over the way Britain was led into the Iraq war, was being buried on Wednesday, 19 days after he was found dead with a slit wrist.

Kelly's family was planning a private funeral for the one-time UN arms inspector at Saint Mary's Church in Longworth, Oxfordshire, near to his rural home and to the woods where his body was found.

His widow and their three children were due to be among the 160 people at the Anglican funeral, starting at 2 pm, which will include readings from Kelly's fellow followers of the Baha'i faith.

Attending for the government will be Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

The funeral comes a day after Tom Kelly, one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesmen, apologized for referring to Kelly as a "Walter Mitty" during an off-the-record talk with the Independent newspaper.

Despite vigorous denials to the contrary, the gaffe left the impression that Downing Street was out to blacken Kelly's name as a judicial inquiry into his apparent suicide gets underway.

Blair himself is on vacation in Barbados this week. Also out of the country is Geoff Hoon, the defense secretary, another key figure in the affair.

Prescott, who is running the government in Blair's absence, wrote Tuesday to Kelly's widow apologizing for spokesman Kelly's remark.

Weapons expert Kelly has been identified as the source of a May 29 report on BBC radio that Blair's staff had misused intelligence data in a September 2002 dossier on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.

Kelly, a Ministry of Defence expert on chemical and biological weapons, contributed to the dossier. According to the BBC report, one of the dossier's key claims -- that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons in just 45 minutes -- was inserted despite reservations from intelligence chiefs.

Downing Street's denial of the report, and the BBC's refusal to correct it, triggered an ugly parallel row between the government and the public broadcaster that was then overshadowed by Kelly's death.

One of Kelly's friends, television journalist Tom Mangold, recoiled Wednesday at the "Walter Mitty" remark, which is generally interpreted as a metaphor for someone with delusions of grandeur.

"We will be sending to his destiny a man who did so much for peace and 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," Mangold said on BBC radio.

"David was the opposite of Walter Mitty," added Mangold, who is making a film on Kelly. "If you watch him in action in this footage you see a man wearing Clarks shoes, National Health Service spectacles, fairly modest clothes. He did not take himself seriously in that respect... He was the exact opposite of Walter Mitty."

In the original 1941 short story by US writer and cartoonist James Thurber, Walter Mitty was a shy, henpecked husband who endures his humdrum existance by imagining himself as a heroic pilot, surgeon and soldier.

In psychiatric circles the term is used for someone thought to be a compulsive fantasist.

©Copyright 2003, Sify News (India)

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