PANIC OVER DOCTOR'S 'KILLER FACT'
By Stephen Martin And Alan Rimmer
SCIENTIST Dr David Kelly died a lonely and anguished death after slashing his left wrist with a knife and swallowing a packet of pain-killers, it emerged yesterday.
The gruesome details of his suicide cast fresh light on the turmoil he suffered after becoming a pawn in the vicious row between Downing Street and the BBC over the so-called "sexed-up" Iraq dossier.
Dr Kelly's life had become "intolerable" and all those involved should reflect "long and hard", his family said later.
But the sheer horror his death has brought was plain to see yesterday.
It was etched on the face of his widow Janice as she was driven to identify the body of her "honourable" husband in a hospital mortuary.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, facing calls for his resignation from former Minister Glenda Jackson, looked ashen-faced as he was accused at a press conference in Japan of "having blood on his hands".
And as the PM struggled to compose himself, panicky MI5 officers were sweeping through the £750,000 home of the 59-year-old germ warfare expert near Abingdon, Oxon.
An intelligence source said: "People are starting to put two and two together and they don't like what it is adding up to. There is absolute panic about what Dr Kelly may have left behind. It's a ticking time-bomb...they are desperate to find out what he has done"
In an email to a journalist just hours before his death, the weapons expert told of "many dark actors playing games".
SUICIDE: David Kelly
It was also thought that on the afternoon of his suicide he made a call from a pay phone to a national newspaper, fearing that his own line was tapped.
Police said Dr Kelly bled to death in a field after slashing his wrist. He had taken a knife and a packet of pain-killing pills from the family home.
A police spokesman said: "We have recovered a knife and an open packet of Co-proxamol tablets at the scene."
Speculation was growing last night that Andrew Gilligan, the BBC journalist whose report accusing the Government of "sexing up" the Iraq war dossier, had decided to quit his job following Dr Kelly's suicide.
Earlier Gilligan refused to answer questions as he returned to his home in South East London after being away all night.
Meanwhile it emerged that in an interview given shortly before he gave evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Dr Kelly said he was appalled that his name had been released to the Press.
"I am shocked," he said. "I was told the whole thing would be confidential."
Ministry of Defence spin doctor Pam Teare yesterday admitted she had leaked Dr Kelly's name to the media.
It also emerged that Dr Kelly's spiritual beliefs may have contributed to his decision to end his own life.
The scientist was a member of the Bahai faith which does not regard suicide as a sin - but excuses it as a release from "sorrows and afflictions" when under terrible pressure.
He converted to the religion four years ago when he was working in America.
Police forensic teams yesterday removed Dr Kelly's computer and were checking phone records for evidence of any calls which may have driven him to suicide.
But his friends and family said he had been left deeply upset by his mauling at the hands of MPs who, by comparison, gave Downing Street spin guru Alastair Campbell a much easier ride.
One singled out "that prick" Andrew MacKinlay, the Labour backbencher whose abrasive questioning left Dr Kelly virtually speechless.
Thurrock MP MacKinlay savaged the mild-mannered scientist, snapping at him: "You're chaff. You've been thrown up to divert our probing. Have you ever felt like the fall guy? I mean, you've been set up, haven't you."
Friends said last night that it would be impossible to over-estimate the humiliation the brilliant scientist had felt at being treated like a simpleton.
Mr MacKinlay yesterday issued an apology - and then went into hiding.
He said: "I deeply regret Dr Kelly's death. I am sorry for any of the stress that, albeit unintentionally, I may have caused him during his questioning before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. I wish to express my sincere condolences to his wife and family."
Dr Kelly was hauled before the committee, chaired by Donald Anderson, after being identified as the probable source for Gilligan's story by his MoD bosses. Dr Kelly admitted meeting Gilligan for lunch in a London hotel, but vehemently denied saying anything about Mr Campbell.
One of Dr Kelly's closest friends said last night: "MacKinlay, that arsehole in the committee who shouted at him, took David's confidence clean away." The friend, whose name we have agreed to withhold, said: "David was actually a hero. A quiet hero. He was despised by Saddam Hussein.
"He was the one inspector Saddam wanted out of Iraq. David took the worst that Saddam's secret police could throw at him, yet this prick on the committee spoke to him in a way that was absolutely dreadful."
His family feel that it was the committee's treatment that upset him. Dr Kelly's brother-in-law Derek Vawdrey said: "There is no doubt that he was traumatised by it. David was devastated.
"He was never trained for this sort of thing unlike Alastair Campbell." He told how his sister Janice Kelly rang him on Friday morning. "Her first words were 'Are you sitting down? She then just blurted it out. She could hardly speak for the shock of being told herself. She said he'd committed suicide."
He added: "Somewhere along the line someone needs pay for this. David was driven into a corner, the pressure on him was immense. He was a very dignified man who was hung out to dry. Goodness knows what Alastair Campbell is thinking at the moment.
"David was highly-stressed but Janice never suspected anything. He was a very private man.
"He never confided in anybody who was not involved in his work. But he was dragged out into the limelight. If Janice is not angry now over what has happened, she certainly will be. She is absolutely devastated."
Number 10 yesterday confirmed that Mr Blair could give evidence to the judicial inquiry into Dr Kelly's death if he is called on.
In his first public comment on Dr Kelly's suicide, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon denied forcing him to give evidence to MPs. The request for evidence had first come from the select committee, he said.
Mr Blair's close ally Peter Mandelson last night blamed the BBC's "obsession" with Alastair Campbell for the tragic twist in the saga of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
He claimed much of the BBC's reporting of the affair was "simply not good enough".
He added: "It was the BBC's obsession with him (Campbell) that led more than anything else to the breakdown in relations between the Government and Britain's principal public service broadcaster"
©Copyright 2003, Sunday Mirror (UK)
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