Special report: Hutton inquiry
Inquiry turns to Kelly's state of mind
Tuesday September 2, 2003
Lord Hutton will today attempt to understand David Kelly's faith, psyche and final movements as he hears evidence from a religious leader, a psychiatrist and the police officers who led the search for the government weapons inspector.
Today's hearing follows the emotionally wrought testimony of Janice Kelly, the scientist's widow, who told the judge yesterday that her husband had felt "totally let down and betrayed" when the Ministry of Defence released a press statement which led to his name becoming public.
Mrs Kelly however provided little sense of what her husband's Baha'i faith involved, telling the inquiry: "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."
Lord Hutton will be calling on Barney Leith, a friend of the scientist and secretary of the UK National Spiritual Assembly of Baha'is, to shed some light on his beliefs.
The Baha'i faith, which preaches universal peace and emphasises truthfulness, has some 6,000 followers across the UK and five million adherents worldwide. Followers do not believe in heaven or hell, saying that everyone has an opportunity for redemption, which has led to the mistaken assumption that they do not condemn suicide.
Also giving evidence is Professor Keith Hawton, director of the Centre for Suicide Research at Oxford University's department of psychiatry, who is expected to provide expert advice on the minds of those who take their own lives.
Helping piece together Dr Kelly's final movements is Ruth Absalom, an elderly neighbour of the scientist who spoke to him on his final walk to the woods near his home near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, on July 18. She has already told her local newspaper that he did not appear depressed at the time.
She will be joined on the witness stand by Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman, volunteers with the search team, and by Dr Kelly's local GP, Dr Malcolm Warner.
Police officers PCs Martyn Sawyer and Andrew Franklin, Detective Constable Peter Coe and Sergeant Geoffrey Webb - who were also involved in the search - are also due to appear, along with ambulance staff David Bartlett and Vanessa Hunt.
©Copyright 2003, Guardian (UK)
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