Tuesday, September 2, 2003 - Web posted at 14:47:37 GMT
Widow's tale of despair likely to damage Blair
LONDON - You cannot spin a broken heart.
Long after the last finger is pointed and embarrassing memo unveiled, the abiding memory of the inquiry into the death of British weapons scientist David Kelly will be the widow, in quiet, measured tones, recounting her husband's despair.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has already been hauled before the inquiry into the death of Kelly (59), who slashed his wrist in the woods after being named as the source for a news story that said the government hyped evidence of Iraqi weapons to justify war.
The inquiry has unearthed reams of documents.
But more than any other evidence, it is the unadorned portrait Janice Kelly painted of her husband's lonely suicide that will haunt a government accused of being so obsessed with appearances that it allowed him to be hounded to death.
"Here he was, being treated like a fly, really.
I think that was the word he used," Janice Kelly told the inquiry by audio link from a private room at the Royal Courts of Justice.
"He had shrunk into himself.
He looked as though he had shrunk".
In her testimony, David Kelly emerged as a man so private that his wife of three decades learned he joined the Baha'i faith only when she saw him reading the Koran and growing "more gentle".
He was a man so dedicated to his work that months would go by before he could find a few hours to mow the lawn at their small house in the English countryside.
His quiet life blew apart when the Ministry of Defence confirmed that he was the official who had come forward anonymously to acknowledge meeting a reporter who said the government hyped its intelligence.
The next morning, the ministry press office phoned to say journalists were descending on the Kelly house.
The couple spent 10 minutes packing and took off for Cornwall in the west of England.
She took him to tourist sites hoping to distract him from his mounting despair.
"I was trying to make this something of a holiday.
We had not had a holiday together in so long," she said.
"He seemed to withdraw into himself completely ... He did not see the gardens at all.
He was in a world of his own".
In the next few days, Kelly would be grilled before a hostile, televised parliamentary hearing.
One of the country's top weapons experts, he was devastated when anonymous government mouthpieces disparaged him as a low-level functionary.
"There were several references to his lowly status, and he was rather knocked out by that," Janice Kelly said.
On the afternoon he disappeared, she did not see her husband set off into the woods with a childhood keepsake boy-scout knife and a bottle of the painkillers she took for her arthritis.
She was in bed, lying down, overcome with her own headaches, growing ill herself from watching her husband suffer.
"In fact, I was physically sick several times at this stage, because he looked so desperate," she said.
"I just thought he had a broken heart".
©Copyright 2003, The Namibian (Namibia, Africa)
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