Bahai News -- Guardian - Bell tolls for Kelly Television

Bell tolls for Kelly

Ciar Byrne
Wednesday August 6, 2003


Prescott: the deputy prime minister, representing the government, arrived at the church at around 1.30pm

A lone mourning bell tolled as David Kelly's coffin was carried into the 13th century church in the Oxfordshire village of Longworth where his funeral took place today.

There were 59 bell tolls, one for every year of the scientist's life.

Dr Kelly's coffin, decked with a wreath of white flowers and a blue cushion wrapped in a red ribbon, arrived at the church in a hearse about eight minutes before the start of the service at 2pm.

The cortege, led by a single undertaker, comprised a hearse carrying the coffin and two Daimler limousines.

The family were greeted with handshakes by the vicar of St Mary's, the Rev Roy Woodhams.

Dr Kelly's widow, Janice, who was wearing a black hat, was helped from the car by her daughters, Sian, 32, Ellen and Rachel, 30, who all wore black suits and were bareheaded.

Six pallbearers carried Dr Kelly's coffin into the church past the flagpole in the churchyard, where the flag had been flying at half mast since noon.

Rev Woodhams said the pallbearers were all family members although they were not blood relations.

About 40 wreaths were laid to the right of the pathway near the church gate with message cards from well-wishers.

A number of villagers, who were not invited to the funeral, stood outside the church porch in the blazing sunshine, holding order of service sheets as the church organ played.

Up to 160 mourners were expected to join Dr Kelly's family at the service.

Lord Hutton, who will lead the inquiry into the weapons inspector's death, arrived at the church at 1.15pm.

Dressed in a dark grey suit, white shirt and black tie, with his hands clasped behind his back, the law lord walked from the car park to the church accompanied by a fellow mourner.

He then took his place in the line of mourners being greeted at the church gate by Rev Roy Woodhams.

The deputy prime minister John Prescott, who was representing the government, arrived shortly afterwards around 1.35pm and exchanged a few words with the vicar before making his way into the church.

Only yesterday Mr Prescott telephoned Mrs Kelly to apologise for comments made by the prime minister's spokesman, Tom Kelly, comparing her late husband to the fictional fantasist Walter Mitty.

Broadcaster Tom Mangold, a senior investigative journalist with the BBC's Panorama programme for nearly 30 years and a close friend of 59-year-old Dr Kelly, was driven to the church in a silver Jaguar at 12.45pm.

He paused briefly at the gates of the churchyard before making his way into the chapel.

Mangold collaborated with Dr Kelly while writing a book and making a documentary about chemical and biological weapons.

The funeral was a Christian service but was expected to include elements of prayer from the Baha'i religion that Dr Kelly practised.

Following the service Dr Kelly was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary's in the shadow of the north side of the medieval building.

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

The funeral was given added poignancy by the fact the scientist's daughter Rachel was married at St Mary's by Rev Woodhams only a few months ago.

Dr Kelly's death came after he was named as the source for BBC claims that intelligence on Iraq was "sexed up".

Mrs Kelly met Lord Hutton before a preliminary sitting of his inquiry last week. She requested today's service should be private.

The church was sealed off to allow the family some peace after they requested media attention be kept to a minimum.

The Press Association and Sky News covered the event on behalf of press and TV broadcasters around the world in an arrangement struck with Thames Valley police.

Even those cameras present maintained a respectful distance from the mourners in the churchyard, showing footage only of the backs of the heads of the family and pall bearers.

The Sky News correspondent reporting on the funeral was stationed a mile away from the church.

The entire village of Longworth and the road outside Dr Kelly's house in the village of Southmoor, about two miles away, were also sealed off by police.

Mounted police patrolled fields surrounding St Mary's while a sniffer dog was brought in to carry out a sweep of the church itself.

The Conservative shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Airey Neave, who was killed by a car bomb as he left the House of Commons car park in 1979, also had his funeral service at St Mary's, although he is buried at nearby Hinton Waldrist.

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

©Copyright 2003, Guardian (UK)

Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL: http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,1013396,00.html


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