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Her evidence point-by-point

(Filed: 01/09/2003)

His past
His faith
New Years Honours
Her fears
The revelation
The 'betrayal'
The 'safe' house
The pressure mounts
The 'nightmare'
The FAC inquiry
His final walk
The Walter Mitty slur

His past

Mrs Kelly told counsel to the inquiry, James Dingemans, QC, that her husband moved to the NERC Institute of Virology in 1974 where he was doing a lot of teaching and training.

In 1984 he moved to Porton Down, Salisbury, to work in the microbiology department and had taken some colleagues from Oxford with him.

Towards the end of the 1980s, her husband was involved in some work in Russia where he seemed to establish a good reputation and was asked back several times.

In Russia he interrogated a defector but his work was mainly weapons monitoring. He was away for up to three weeks.

Mrs Kelly said: "He became extremely dedicated to his work. He became a workaholic. He really did get involved in that."

She said that, after his work in Russia, he was asked to get involved in the UN weapon monitoring commission, Unscom. After the Gulf War he went to Iraq nearly 40 times.

Mrs Kelly said her husband was used to briefing journalists and that she heard him speaking on the phone from home.

"He was never very long on the phone to these journalists," she said.


She said he felt there was unfinished business in Iraq after the Unscom inspectors were thrown out of the country.


"He felt that his job there wasn't finished. That Iraq did indeed have plenty of weapons ... it was quite a frustrating time, I think, after 1998 when they were effectively thrown out of Iraq," she said.

Mrs Kelly said her husband had run the family finances and that she had never been sure if his salary was paid by the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office or the UN.

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

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

His faith

She was asked about his conversion to the Baha'i faith and 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."

Mr Dingemans asked what Dr Kelly's mood was like in January/February when the family were preparing for their daughter's wedding.

Mrs Kelly said: "He was a bit more tired then he had been. But he was upbeat, looking forward to the wedding.

"There was some trepidation for the war. He believed in it but was sad that we seemed to be moving towards that position."

Mrs Kelly also revealed that her husband had been musing about retirement and was thinking about 2005 although he was worried about pension requirements.

New Years Honours

Mrs Kelly told the inquiry they had found a document in her husband's filing cabinet "a couple of weeks or so ago".

She said the document was dated May 2003 and related to people to be put on the New Year's Honours List for 2004.

She said that scribbled in the top right hand corner of the document was: "How about David Kelly? Iraq is topical."

Mrs Kelly said that her husband did not discuss the document and that it was headed Confidential.

Mrs Kelly said she remembered Dr Kelly leaving for London to meet BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan, who broadcast the "sexed up" report on Today, in May.

"It was unusual for him to go and meet somebody in London," she said.

Mrs Kelly said her husband came back from Iraq quite sad for the Iraqi people.

She said he seemed to have been glad to have been involved because he had had some difficulty getting back there. He had wanted to go out some weeks earlier but had been met with visa problems and date changes.

On his return, she said, he spent some time in the garden trying to fix it up because she was disabled, before going away on some courses.

Her fears

She then went on to describe a particular evening that left her worried.


She said: "He suddenly got up from his chair, having been quite withdrawn and worried looking.

"He went upstairs to get dressed, to change his clothes, and came down rather smarter than he would normally be at home and rather smarter than if he was just popping down to the local for a game of cribbage.

"He told me he was going to walk to the Hind's Head. He seemed very preoccupied and that would have been just before that letter was sent."

Mrs Kelly then said he returned around half an hour to 40 minutes later and she said to him that he seemed to have been quick.

She added: "He told me 'I went for a walk instead to think something through'.

"I was immediately worried, the way he said it, he said it slowly. I thought, perhaps, he was worried about me.

"He said it was not me. It was a professional thing."

Mrs Kelly said her husband returned home at about 7pm on July 8 and seemed "quiet". She said they had a meal and went to watch the news on television but had not yet discussed how his day had gone.

"He seemed a little bit reluctant to come and watch the news," she said.

"The main story was that a source had identified itself and then immediately David said to me 'It's me'."

The revelation

Mrs Kelly said she thought she and her husband were watching Channel 4 News when he made his revelation.

She said: "My reaction was total dismay, my heart sank and I was terribly worried because the fact that he said that to me ... I knew that he was aware that his name would be in the public domain quite soon."

She said her husband had seemed "desperately unhappy about it, really really unhappy, totally dismayed".

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

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

He said he might have to leave if it got worse.

Mrs Kelly described how they had a visit from a journalist called Nick Rufford. "We had been sitting out having a coffee in the garden. David had gone to put the tools away that he had been using during the day."

Mrs Kelly said she had not been aware that anyone else was there.

"I suddenly looked and David was talking to somebody."

She recognised it was Nick Rufford. Mr Rufford had been down to the Kellys' house before.

"No journalist had ever turned up before this. I was extremely alarmed."

Mrs Kelly said her husband confirmed later what she thought she had overheard, which was Rupert Murdoch's name and Dr Kelly asking Mr Rufford to leave.

She said the conversation lasted only about four to five minutes.

When asked what the conversation was about, Mrs Kelly said that they had been offered hotel accommodation in return for an article.

She said: "He (Rufford) said that David was to be named that night and the press were on their way in their droves.

"That was the language that David used, I'm not sure if Nick used that.

"He (Kelly) was very upset."

Mrs Kelly said her husband felt "the gloves were off now" and that his name would be used in any article by Mr Rufford.

The 'betrayal'

Mrs Kelly told the inquiry that Dr Kelly felt "betrayed" by the MoD, which allowed his name to enter the public domain.


"He said several times over coffee, over lunch, over afternoon tea that he felt totally let down and betrayed," she said.

Mrs Kelly said her husband was filling his time giving briefings when he might have been more involved in proposed high level policy making.

Questioned once more about the visit of Mr Rufford, she said her husband had told her what the journalist had said and mentioned this proposed deal.

Mrs Kelly said her husband was upset because he felt he might have lost his friendship with Mr Rufford.

The 'safe' house

As he was telling her about his conversation with the journalist, she said she knew of a house in south west England where they could go if needed.

He then received a phone call from the MoD. When he came out, he told her: "I think we will be needing that house after all.

"The MoD press office have just rung to say that we ought to leave the house, and quickly, so that we would not be followed by the press."

Mrs Kelly said her husband did not tell her if the MoD had made any other offers of support.

The couple packed and left within 10 minutes and drove along the M4, reaching Weston-super-Mare by 9.30 or 9.45pm.

They decided to get a hotel for the night, she said, adding that her husband had been very tense during the drive and that she had asked him not to try to take telephone calls while he was driving.

He had tried to reach his line manager, Bryan Wells but reached an official named only as Kate.

He told her he had "cut and run", his wife told the inquiry.

She said she had never heard him use the phrase before, that it was unusual language for him, and a sign of how much stress he was under.

She said: "He was exceedingly upset, we both were, very anxious, very stressed."

She added: "I was trying to make conversation to relax him. I was trying to make this a positive experience for him."

After lunch, after they arrived in Cornwall, he became "very tense".

"I could not comfort him. He seemed to withdraw into himself completely."

The pressure mounts

Mrs Kelly said her husband had received several phone calls telling him of the growing media coverage of the story.


One, from Olivia Bosch, who worked for Unscom and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, was particularly troubling.

"Effectively, she was telling him about the press coverage and that did seem to upset him more," she said.

"He did not like his name being in the public domain. He didn't like becoming the story."

When he learnt in another phone call that he was to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which would be televised, Mrs Kelly said: "He was ballistic, he just did not like that idea at all.

"He felt ... it would be a kind of continuation ... of a reprimand in the public domain."

Dr Kelly's worries had not eased the next day when his wife took him for lunch, tried to keep him busy and made family phone calls in the evening.

She said he was preoccupied with arrangements for him to go to London on the Monday to prepare for his committee appearances.

She said: "He was worried about whether he would have to cope with briefings from the MoD on top of his thoughts and feelings that he had already got."

On Saturday the Kellys went to the Eden Project, which they had never visited before.

Asked if her husband had enjoyed it, Mrs Kelly said: "No, although it was a lovely world heritage site, he seemed very grim, very unhappy, extremely tense, but accepting the process he was going to have to go through."

She added: "I had never in all the Russian visits and all the difficulties he had to go through in Iraq, where he had lots of discomforts, lots of horrors, guns pointing at him, munitions left lying around, I had never known him to be as unhappy as he was then.

"It was tangible."

The 'nightmare'

Mrs Kelly said that they somehow got through the morning and went for a walk along the beach but "it was not easy for him".

She added: "It was just a nightmare, that's all I can describe it as."

Mrs Kelly said she felt the MoD did not seem to be offering much help and asked her husband why someone was not coming down to talk to him.

She said by the following day the MoD had offered to put Dr Kelly up in London but the family felt he would be more comfortable staying with his daughter Rachel, and he set off for there leaving Mrs Kelly in Cornwall.

She said that before he left, he had bought a copy of the Sunday Times and saw another article by Mr Rufford which, she felt, implied he had had a full-blown interview.

She said: "He said something like 'Thanks Nick, the MoD will think I have been talking to the press when I expressly said I would not'."

Mrs Kelly said they looked at other newspapers and when asked to sum those up, she described them as "totally belittling".

She stressed that the Nick Rufford article caused her husband the most upset.

Dr Kelly had accompanied Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to an earlier hearing of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

Mrs Kelly told the inquiry that her husband was "deeply hurt" to learn that Mr Straw was not satisfied with the technical support the weapons expert had given him.

Mr Straw said he was upset that at the committee meeting "he had been accompanied by somebody so junior", she said.

Dr Kelly laughed upon hearing this, but "he was deeply, deeply hurt", she said.

Mrs Kelly said her husband felt "he was being treated rather like a fly, I think was the phrase he used".

She stressed her husband was not a "boastful" man but felt he could make "a small difference".

Having seen the TV footage of Dr Kelly at the committee and as he arrived in Parliament to give evidence, she said: "He really did look very stressed."

The FAC inquiry

Asked about the television footage of her husband's evidence to the FAC, Mrs Kelly said: "He looked very uncomfortable, very hot, very stressed."

Asked what he had told her about the experience, she said: "Very little, he felt that he had not done good justice to himself. He felt they had been, I think it was Andrew MacKinlay's comment, he had misunderstood it initially and felt it was an insult."

Dr Kelly had asked his line manager, Dr Wells, if he thought Mr MacKinlay's comment about the weapons expert being "chaff" was an insult.

Mr Wells had told him it was a military term but his wife said the comment had "upset him".

She said her husband was in "a nightmare position". He had stayed at Rachel's house on July 15 before appearing before the ISC on July 16.

Mrs Kelly took the train back from Cornwall to meet her husband, their daughter and her fiance at Rachel's house that evening.

She said: "He looked totally exhausted. He was able to converse a little but it was very, very strained, I felt he was very tired, he was used up."

She added: "He only said it had gone all right and that was not a phrase he would usually use He was obviously very stressed."

Mrs Kelly said: "He couldn't put two sentences together, he couldn't talk at all."

His final walk

She described the usual routine in the house, that she would often go for a lie-down after lunch to help her arthritis, while her husband would usually go for a walk to help his bad back.

She told the inquiry: "I said to him: 'What are you going to do?' and he said 'I will probably go for my walk'."

Mrs Kelly said she went upstairs at 1.30pm to 1.45pm and that her husband had gone into his study.

She said: "Shortly after I had lain down, he came to ask me if I was OK and I said 'Yes, I will be fine'."

He went to change his clothes for his walk and she assumed he had left the house, but he picked up the phone when it rang later.

Mrs Kelly said she had gone downstairs to answer it in case it was important but heard him speaking quietly in his study.

She told the inquiry: "I said something like 'Oh, I thought you had gone out for your walk'.

"He didn't respond, of course, because he was on the phone."

She said that was at about 3pm and that she had assumed the phone call was from the MoD.

Mrs Kelly said that her husband had gone out for his walk by 3.20pm. "I was still feeling extremely ill."

She said she went and switched on the television, a thing unheard of at that time of day.

A couple of callers came to the front door and she had a short chat with both of them.

"I began to get rather worried."

She said it was a family tradition for members of the family to indicate if they were going for a longer than usual walk, which normally took 15-25 minutes.

Mrs Kelly said Rachel rang and said "Don't worry, maybe he's gone out for a quiet think'."

Rachel made a decision to come over and see her parents and she arrived between 5.30pm and 6pm. Mrs Kelly said: "She said 'I will go and walk up and meet Dad'."

Mrs Kelly described her anguish the night her husband went missing.

"I was in a terrible state myself at this time, trying not to think awful things and trying to take each moment as it came."

She said her daughter, Sian, then phoned and said she was coming round before beginning a search of the area's churches and bus shelters with her partner.

The family had delayed calling the police until 11.40pm, not wanting to make the situation worse, she said.

Mrs Kelly said the police were told of her husband's position and "it seemed to immediately go up to chief constable level".

A helicopter and tracker dogs were sent out looking for Dr Kelly and she remained in contact with the police "all night", she said.

Dogs were used to search the house to make sure the weapons expert was not still inside and police communications masts were set up in the garden.

She said that she was told on July 18 that a body had been found and that police had also found a knife that Dr Kelly had owned since childhood.

"We were shown a photocopy of a knife which we recognised he had had for many years.

"It was a knife he had had, what, from childhood I think, probably from the Boy Scouts," she said.

Mrs Kelly said she had concluded that the Co-proxamol drug found with her husband's body had probably been taken from the supply she kept for her arthritis.

The Walter Mitty slur

Mr Dingemans asked how the family reacted to the reports about Dr Kelly being a "Walter Mitty" type character.

Mrs Kelly said: "I was devastated. That was totally the opposite.

"He was a very modest, shy, retiring man ... very courteous, very laid-back if you like, but he kept to his brief. He did not boast at all. He was very factual and that is what he felt his job was to be, very factual."

Asked if there was anything else she wanted to add, Mrs Kelly said: "Lord Hutton, on behalf of my family, I would like to thank you and your counsel for the dignified way in which you are carrying out this inquiry into my husband's death.

"We would also like to acknowledge the support our family has received from so many people all over the country and elsewhere."

Mrs Kelly also asked if she could take the opportunity to again urge the media to respect their privacy.

She added: "We are a very private family."

Mrs Kelly then completed her evidence after around an hour and 10 minutes.

©Copyright 2003, Telegraph (UK)

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