Dr Kelly 'stressed and nervous' over furore

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A senior Foreign Office official told the Hutton inquiry yesterday of the "stress" that David Kelly seemed to be suffering days before his death.

Patrick Lamb paid tribute to Dr Kelly's integrity and said he had no reason to doubt his word. He said that after the scientist's name had become public he tried to call him to sympathise with the situation in which he found himself.

"He was, in fact, incommunicado at that time. I think he was been harried by the press and I was unable to speak to him," he said.

Mr Lamb, deputy head of counter-proliferation at the Foreign Office said a ministry official had spoken to Dr Kelly on 14 July, shortly before his bruising appearance at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. "A colleague reported to me that he felt David was under stress," he said.

Mr Lamb told the inquiry that Dr Kelly was "clearly very nervous" about giving evidence to the MPs. "That was understandable. I tried to say to him that it was a fairly straightforward business."

Mr Lamb said Dr Kelly had told him that he had spoken to Andrew Gilligan, the BBC journalist who reported claims that the September dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been "sexed up".

Mr Lamb said: "He recognised the framework of the story that Mr Gilligan eventually produced but those were not the words he used.

"He recognised a super structure had been created from a brief conversation. He was very adamant they were not the words he used."

Mr Lamb said that his principal concern had been to ensure there was no threat to Dr Kelly's pension rights as a result of the furore and confirmed that was not the case.