British arms expert died of slashed wrist

British arms expert David Kelly, whose body was found on Friday, bled to death from a slashed wrist with no indication anyone else was involved, police said on Saturday.

His death could have adverse consequences for the Blair government
His death could have adverse consequences for the Blair government

After formally identifying the body, a police spokesman said they also recovered a knife and an open packet of Coproxamol tablets at the scene. 

Kelly, 59, was identified as the possible source behind a BBC report in May that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office “sexed up” a dossier on Baghdad’s weapons capabilities that was used to justify the war on Iraq in March. 


Kelly disappeared on Thursday, two days after being interrogated by a parliamentary committee investigating the affair during which he denied being the mole.


“The post-mortem has revealed that the cause of death was haemorrhaging from a wound to his left wrist. The injury is consistent with having been caused by a bladed object,” the spokesman said.


“Whilst our inquiries are continuing, there is no indication at this stage of any other party being involved,” he added.


Calls for restraint

On a tour of Asia, Blair said on Saturday speculation should end over Kelly’s death and a judicial inquiry should be allowed to run its proper course.

It was Blair’s first public comment on the mysterious death which has put into question the future of the prime minister’s top aide,  communications chief Alastair Campbell, and a number of government ministers who had named Kelly as the likely source of the BBC report.


Blair, who is currently in Tokyo, called the unexplained death a “terrible tragedy”.


“I hope we can set aside speculation and claims and counterclaims, and allow that process to take its proper course,” Blair told reporters in the Japanese capital.


“In the meantime, all of us, politicians and media alike, should show some respect and restraint,” he added. 


Blair was flying over the Pacific, mid-way between Washington and Tokyo, when he learned by satellite telephone that Kelly had been found dead in the English countryside, a day after he disappeared from his home.


Worst crisis


The discovery of the body triggered perhaps one of the worst crises in Blair’s six years in power – already tarnished by controversy surrounding intelligence reports on Iraq’s alleged weapons programme. 


Chronology of events leading to Kelly’s death
24 Sept 2002 –
Britain publishes  dossier on Iraq’s weapons programme which claims Saddam Hussein could launch a weapon of mass destruction at just 45 minutes’ notice. 
29 May 2003 – The BBC cites an anonymous intelligence source as saying Prime Minister Tony Blair’s aides inserted the
45-minute claim into the dossier. The allegation sparks a row between the government and the public broadcaster. Blair’s aide Alistair Campbell denies that he “sexed up” the dossier to persuade reluctant legislators to back the war and demands an apology from the BBC, which refuses to give one. 
7 July – A parliamentary committee concludes that Campbell did not play a role in including the 45 minutes claim. But it criticises the dossier in other respects and the BBC says the report justifies its decision to air the original charge. 
15 July – David Kelly tells
parliamentarians he could not have been the main source of the BBC story, as suggested by the government, because it did not match what he told BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan. 
17 July – Parliamentarians quiz Gilligan and accuse him of changing his story. He responds by claiming he was “ambushed”. 
18 July – British police find the body of a man that matches Kelly’s description.    

British newspapers accused Blair’s government of using Kelly as a scapegoat.


“Death of the dossier fall guy” was the lead headline of the right-wing Daily Telegraph, which called on chief government spokesman Alastair Campbell to quit.


The right-wing Daily Mail attacked the government’s treatment of Kelly under the headline “Proud of yourselves?”, while the Financial Times described the death as “an immense blow to Blair’s government”.


‘Ghastly tragedy’


The leader of Britain’s opposition Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy, welcomed the announcement of a possible inquiry.  Another opposition Conservative MP, Richard Ottaway, said it would be a “tragedy of ghastly proportions” if “political machinations” had resulted in Kelly’s death. “It has serious ramifications for the government,” he added.



Kelly was a widely respected expert who helped uncover the extent of Baghdad’s biological weapons programme.


For seven years in the 1990s, he was a senior member of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with dismantling Iraq’s banned chemical, biological and ballistic weapons programmes.


Within months of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire, Kelly was in Iraq, leading a team of biological weapons inspectors.


He returned 36 times over the next seven years, patiently hunting for evidence of a military biological programme.


Friends described him as a man with a sharp mind and a passion for his field of expertise. “He was a man whose brain could boil water — he used words with tremendous precision, he used them as weapons,” television journalist Tom Mangold said.


Some parliamentarians who interrogated Kelly on Tuesday said he might have been set up as a government “fall guy” to divert their probe into the government’s case for invading Iraq.

Source : News Agencies

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