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Special report: Hutton inquiry


Kelly 'considered for a knighthood'

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Julia Day and Ciar Byrne
Monday September 1, 2003

David Kelly
Kelly: 'a workaholic, who would have done his job for nothing'
David Kelly, the weapons expert who took his own life in the wake of revelations about his role in briefing journalists about the Iraq dossier, was being considered for a knighthood, his widow revealed today.

Janice Kelly revealed a scrap of paper found in a drawer in her husband's filing cabinet indicated the scientist was being lined up to receive an honour in the new year's honours list in 2004.

Giving evidence to the Hutton inquiry into her husband's death today, Mrs Kelly said the paper read: "How about David Kelly? Iraq is topical".

Mrs Kelly told the inquiry she had found the document "a couple of weeks or so ago", it was dated May 2003 and headed "Confidential".

Dr Kelly's widow was speaking via a video link to the courtroom - the first time she had broken her silence since making a brief statement about the "intolerable" pressures placed on her husband.

She said today her husband seemed "desperately unhappy" and "totally dismayed" about the way he had been treated at the Ministry of Defence.

She described him as "a workaholic, who would have done his job for nothing".

Mrs Kelly said she was aware her husband had met the BBC's Andrew Gilligan but she believed the journalist was briefing her husband, rather than the other way around.

It was not until July 8, however, that she realised her husband was the source of Gilligan's report on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on May 29 that accused the government of "sexing up" the Iraq intelligence dossier.

She said he had come home to Oxfordshire and they sat down to watch the news - she thought it was on Channel 4 but could not remember.

The lead story on all bulletins that teatime was the revelation the MoD had announced an unnamed employee had come forward to admit meeting Gilligan.

"Immediately, David said to me, 'it's me'," Mrs Kelly said.

"My reaction was total dismay. My heart sank, I was terribly worried because... I knew then he was aware his name would be in the public domain quite soon."

She added: "He mentioned he had had a reprimand at that stage from the MoD but they had not been unsupportive, were his words."

Mrs Kelly said she had had difficulty getting details from her husband and she had asked if it could cause problems for his pension or mean he would have to leave his job.

Dr Kelly said he might have to leave if the situation worsened, she told the inquiry.

Mrs Kelly said her husband had seemed certain his name would become public.

She said: "He said in his own mind he knew from that point that the press would soon put two and two together.

"We have an amazing press in this country, it doesn't take them long to find out details of this sort.

"I was quite worried about him at this time. I was really getting quite anxious."

She said he had given up alcohol after joining the Baha'i faith. "He certainly looked worried, very withdrawn."

Mrs Kelly said she had the feeling he was not enjoying his work as much as he had previously. "He was more withdrawn, more driven."

Mrs Kelly said her husband had run the family finances and she had never been sure if his salary was paid by the MoD, the Foreign Office or the United Nations.

She said: "It was always a bit unclear as to who he was working for."

He was on secondment but but she was never clear who his employer was at any time.

The inquiry has previously heard Dr Kelly had written to express frustrations about his pay and grading structure as he had fallen into "a hole" because of his secondment.

Mrs Kelly said she was aware of "frustrations" but added: "He was content in some ways and I think he would have done the whole job for nothing - had he not had to support a wife and family."

Asked about Dr Kelly's conversion to the Baha'i faith, she said: "He kept it very private to himself."

She said he converted five or six years ago, adding: "He was reading the Koran and perhaps becoming gentler in his ways. It really was a spiritual revelation for him."

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