Blair and Hoon called to give evidence to Kelly death inquiry

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Tony Blair will be called to give evidence to the inquiry into the death of Government scientist Dr David Kelly, inquiry chairman Lord Hutton confirmed today.

Defence secretary Geoff Hoon, BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan and Dr Kelly's widow Janice will also be asked to appear before the inquiry, the law lord announced.

But Lord Hutton stressed that he would not be conducting a trial between conflicting parties.

Opening his inquiry, Lord Hutton revealed details of the post-mortem on Dr Kelly's body carried out by Dr Nicholas Hunt, a Home Office pathologist.

He said that in the opinion of Dr Hunt the main factor in bringing about Dr Kelly's death was bleeding from an incised wound to his left wrist.

He said Dr Hunt found that Dr Kelly had removed his watch and spectacles in a way which suggested an act of self-harm.

Dr Hunt had also said that Dr Kelly had a significant degree of coronary artery disease and that this may have played some small part in the speed of death but not a major part in the cause of death.

He said that four electro-cardiogram electrode pads were found on Dr Kelly's chest, two over each side of the upper chest area and two over each side of the lower chest area.

Lord Hutton said: "It is clearly important that I and the public should have a very much more detailed and fuller picture of the facts than the outline I have just given.

"Therefore the first task in this inquiry will be to flesh out that outline. This will be done at the next stage of the inquiry."

Lord Hutton said he would be examining the circumstances leading up to Dr Kelly's suicide. "I should emphasise this is an inquiry to be conducted by me. This is not a trial conducted between interested parties who have conflicting cases to advance.

"I do not sit to decide between conflicting cases. I sit to investigate the circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly's death," Lord Hutton said.

Before setting out his terms of reference, Lord Hutton led a minute's silence for Dr Kelly, who took his life after becoming embroiled in the row between the Government and the BBC over claims that Downing Street had "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Dr Kelly slashed his wrist at a beauty spot near his home in Abingdon, Oxon, after being named as the prime source for the BBC report.

The report, by journalist Andrew Gilligan, sparked a furious battle between the BBC and Downing Street.

How Dr Kelly's name was made public will be a key question for Lord Hutton.

However, he made it clear that the two sides would not be allowed to use the inquiry to try to prove their cases.

Cross-examination would be allowed but only if it is "helpful to the forwarding of the inquiry but no further", he said.

Lord Hutton said he had been sent, at his request, a "considerable quantity of documents " from the BBC and the Ministry of Defence.

He added that he had also been given information from Dr Kelly's widow Janice when he visited her on July 26.

"It is probable that more documents will be sent to me in the next few days," he said.

Lord Hutton went on to give "an outline in very general terms" of the events surrounding the inquiry.

Stressing it was not a "comprehensive account", he provided the hearing with a timeline including the publication of the government dossier which contained 45 minutes claims relating to weapons of mass destruction, and details of Mr Gilligan's reports.

Referring to the initial publication of Dr Kelly's name, he said: "It's my intention to hear evidence as to how an why this came about."

Lord Hutton stressed the importance of hearing the inquiry in public. "It is my intention to conduct this inquiry in public unless considerations such as those of national security require me to sit in private.

"Unless such considerations arise it is important that the public should know every word of evidence which is spoken at this inquiry and should know the full contents of every document which is referred to in evidence."

But Lord Hutton also said: "Because this is not a trial of opposing parties, I do not propose to disclose in advance documents or witness statements given by one party to the inquiry to other parties."

Lord Hutton said his present intention was to invite witnesses to give evidence in chronological order based on the sequence of events so far as that was possible.

"I have no power to swear witnesses and the witnesses will not be sworn," he said.

He said he proposed to ask first a witness from a Government department "to give evidence of Dr Kelly's expertise on chemical and biological warfare and of his employment in the Government and of his knowledge of the September dossier (on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction) and of any part he played in the preparation of that dossier".

Lord Hutton continued: "The press will be able to report to the public everything that takes place." Transcripts of the day's hearings would be posted on a website, he said.

Before rising for a short break, Lord Hutton said: "I have also decided that this opening statement by me will be televised and the addresses of counsel will be televised."

He said he proposed to sit again on Monday, August 11.

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