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Family holds funeral for Dr Kelly

August 6, 2003

The family of Dr David Kelly was holding a private funeral for the government weapons expert 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, were being joined by up to 160 mourners for the service at St Mary's Church in the Oxfordshire village of Longworth.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was expected to represent the government at the service as Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon is on holiday with his family.

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

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

But 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 was flying the Union Flag at half mast for the service, which will last about 40 minutes.

Following the funeral, Dr Kelly was being 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 on July 18.

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

His family were 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.

Thames Valley Police was operating a pooled media facility involving a Sky News cameraman and a Press Association reporter and photographer and asked other media not to attend the church or obtain shots of the family

The force issued a statement to the media saying Dr Kelly's family was aware of the "vast" media interest but wished other press and broadcasters not to enter Longworth or Southmoor.

©Copyright 2003, The Age (Australia)

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