Bahai News -- Financial Times - Hutton inquiry: Kelly's family have their say Monday Sep 1 2003. All times are London time.

Hutton inquiry: Kelly's family have their say

By Richard Milne and Chris GilesPublished: August 31 2003 17:56 | Last Updated: August 31 2003 17:56

David Kelly's thoughts and actions during his final days will be revealed this week as those closest to the government weapons expert give evidence to the Hutton inquiry. The final week of evidence in the first phase of the inquiry will concentrate on the pressure Mr Kelly was placed under by officials, by politicians on the foreign affairs committee and by the BBC, and whether it played a role in his death. Until now the focus of the inquiry has been primarily concerned with the provenance of the government's weapons dossier and how Mr Kelly's name became public.

Janice and Rachel Kelly, his wife and daughter, will give evidence on Monday, as will two other family members.

It will represent the family's first public comments aside from a terse statement shortly after his death urging all those involved to "reflect long and hard" about their actions. The inquiry has already heard how Mrs Kelly was "very upset" on July 17, the day he disappeared.

It has heard how the strain was increased by the threat of disciplinary action against the scientist by the MoD's personnel director, and by some of the questions about his contacts with BBC journalists put to him at his appearance before the foreign affairs committee.

The inquiry has also heard how Mr Kelly was repeatedly pressed for more information by MoD officials anxious to establish all his media contacts on the day he disappeared.

On Tuesday Lord Hutton will focus on Mr Kelly's last hours, taking evidence from the search party that found his body and the ambulance team who put electrode pads on his chest to try to detect signs of life.

The inquiry will hear from Professor Keith Hawton, director of the University of Oxford Centre for Suicide Research, who was appointed by Lord Hutton to provide advice on the sort of pressures that could have led Mr Kelly to take his life. It will also take evidence from Barney Leith, UK head of the Baha'i faith, which stresses that truth is one of its key virtues.

Later in the week the spotlight will return to the political questions. Two unnamed defence intelligence staff - presumed to include those who expressed reservations about the language used in the September intelligence dossier on Iraq - will testify on Wednesday.

Steven Macdonald, an MoD official, will give evidence on the handling of documents after the inquiry was initiated. Allegations of document shredding in the MoD have surfaced in the past month.

On Thursday the inquiry will hear from Richard Taylor, the special adviser to Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, who will be asked to justify the policy of confirming Mr Kelly's name to journalists. The inquiry will then adjourn until September 15.

During the intervening week Lord Hutton will take representations from the counsel to the interested parties before he decides which witnesses will be cross-examined and whether any new people should be summoned.

Final statements are due to be given by counsel on September 25.

©Copyright 2003, Financial Times (UK)

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