Family relive their pain in hope of ending rumours

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The decision to publish the post-mortem and toxicology reports into the death of Dr David Kelly now, rather than in 70 years time, was, to a large extent, to allow the family of the scientist some form of closure.

For seven years now Dr Kelly's widow, Janice, had been exposed to a relentless series of conspiracy theories about her husband's death, including allegations that he had been murdered by the Government.

Mrs Kelly and her daughters, Sian, Rachel and Ellen had chosen to remain silent about the claims asking "to be allowed to grieve privately without intrusion". However, according to those who know the family, she had not changed her view that her husband had taken his own life, after being left broken by the treatment he received during the hunt to discover who had told the BBC about the "sexing up" of the dodgy Iraq dossier. During her testimony to the Hutton Inquiry, Mrs Kelly had described how her husband "seemed to withdraw completely into himself. I could not comfort him. I just thought he had a broken heart; he couldn't talk at all," she said.

On the day of his death, they had spoken little but she had no way of knowing what was on his mind. She had not called the police for many hours after Dr Kelly failed come home because she wanted to give him time and so as not to over-react.

One source of claims that Dr Kelly had been assassinated is Mai Pederson, described variously as a belly-dancing Arab-American army interpreter and a spy, who had met the scientist while he was carrying out weapons inspections for the United Nations in Iraq.

Ms Pederson, who had appeared in the UK media as a "close friend" of the late scientist, had claimed Dr Kelly told her that he was "number three in a hit list" compiled by Saddam Hussein. She also said that the scientist could not have cut his own wrist as, because of a weakness in his arm, he could not even cut a steak. None of her claims have been backed by evidence and Dr Kelly's family are said to treat them with "deep scepticism".

Following the Hutton Inquiry, the Kelly family's solicitors, Bircham Dyson Bell, said Mrs Kelly and the daughters had taken note of the response of Keith Hawton, Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford, when asked by Lord Hutton what factors may have contributed to the death of the scientist. "Severe loss of self-esteem, resulting from his feeling that people had lost trust in him and from his dismay at being exposed to the media," the psychiatrist replied.

"Being such a private man, this was anathema. He would have seen it as being publicly disgraced. He must have begun to think that the prospects for continuing in his previous work role were diminishing very markedly. That would have filled him with a profound sense of hopelessness – that his life's work had been totally undermined".

After the inquiry Tony Blair wanted to meet Mrs Kelly but she refused to see the then Prime Minister.