David Kelly was left broken and betrayed, a man prepared to take his own life, after being used as a pawn by the Government in a "cynical abuse of power" in their bitter battle with the BBC, his family claimed yesterday.
In its final day, the Hutton inquiry was reminded of the full extent of the anger and anguish of Janice Kelly and her daughters. In a devastating closing speech their lawyer, Jeremy Gompertz QC lashed the Ministry of Defence and Downing Street for "duplicity" and "hypocrisy" in their dealings with the scientist.
The BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan and the media as a whole were also criticised, in varying degrees, by Mr Gompertz. But the real venom was reserved for people in the heart of Tony Blair's administration and senior Whitehall civil servants.
Mr Gompertz laid out the allegations in front of a packed and hushed Court 73 at the High Court Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, lied to the inquiry by claiming there was no strategy to disclose Dr Kelly's identity. The diaries of Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of communications and strategy, proved the "hypocrisy" of the Government's position. A memorandum from Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff, revealed the desire for the scientist to be named. The claim by Richard Hatfield, the MoD's personnel director, that Dr Kelly received "outstanding" support was "risible", he said.
Mr Gompertz declared that No 10 and the MoD were prepared to sacrifice the scientist in their attempt to counter claims by Mr Gilligan, in Radio 4's Today programme, that it had "sexed up" the Iraq arms dossier.
He continued: "The family invite the inquiry to find that the Government made a deliberate decision to use Dr Kelly as part of its strategy in its battle with the BBC." That triggered a chain of events which led to tragic loss not just for his family but the nation.
Mr Gompertz said to Lord Hutton: "Your Lordship would have been moved by the evidence of Mrs Kelly and her daughter Rachel of how tired and how unhappy he was. How he felt betrayed by the MoD, no doubt because he had been led to believe that the matter could be dealt with confidentially.
"He found himself in the glare of the media. He had worked faithfully in the Foreign Office all his life. He had achieved great eminence. He had been made a CMG [companion of the order of St Michael and St George] and was being considered for further awards, perhaps a knighthood. The Government and the nation had lost their greatest expert in biological weapons. And yet he was characterised by his employers, to suit their needs of the hour, as a middle-ranking official and was used as pawn in their political battle with the BBC."
Mr Gompertz began his speech by saying the Kelly family were not seeking "revenge or retribution" or looking for individual scapegoats. But it soon became clear where they thought the blame lay for driving Dr Kelly to his apparent suicide.
"The Kelly family accept that your Lordship may find that various individuals were blameworthy ... [but] their primary aims are: one that the duplicity of the Government in the handling of Dr Kelly should be exposed; and two that the systematic failings of the MoD should be identified," he said.
Instead of supporting and protecting Dr Kelly, a civil servant, the MoD and No 10 were intent on exposing him publicly, said Mr Gompertz.
He read an e-mail which said: "[Jonathan Powell] has separately suggested to [the Secretary of State] that we should simply name our man but left the decision to Mr Hoon who has not yet reached a final view."
He continued: "This document, which I highlight because of its late disclosure, shows that the Government had it in mind to name Dr Kelly on 9 July and left Mr Hoon to make his final decision as to how the identity of Dr Kelly should enter the public domain.
"This document demonstrates once again the hypocrisy of Mr Hoon's public stance on the matter in submissions he gave to the inquiry.
"Curiously, neither Mr Hoon nor Jonathan Powell saw fitto mention this e-mail during their evidence, which meant we were unable to cross-examine them about it.
"If, as the family submit, there was a strategy to out Dr Kelly, to use a witness to undermine Andrew Gilligan in furtherance of the Government's dispute with the BBC, this was a cynical abuse of power and deserves the strongest possible condemnation."
Mr Campbell's diaries, said Mr Gompertz, provided "compelling evidence" that there was a government strategy to get Dr Kelly's name out into the open and proved Mr Hoon's evidence to the inquiry was false.
However, since the diaries were produced after Mr Hoon had finished giving evidence on Monday, he could not be cross-examined on his denials that there was such a strategy.
He said: "The hypocrisy of these denials has now been disclosed by some passages of Mr Campbell's diary. They indicate with clarity, if accepted by the inquiry, that the Secretary of State's denials of the Government's strategy, put to him in cross-examination, were false.
"Indeed they reveal he was an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal to put Dr Kelly's name into the public domain. This is totally contrary to his previous stance."
Mr Gompertz said the Kelly family had been particularly hurt by Mr Hatfield's evidence to the inquiry "an arrogant dismissal of Dr Kelly as the author of his own misfortune." Counsel continued: "He said that Dr Kelly was responsible for a fundamental failing in meeting Mr Gilligan. In hindsight he, Mr Hatfield, might well have initiated formal disciplinary action and suspended him. Thirdly, he said that the MoD gave Dr Kelly outstanding support ... Were the matter not so serious, the family would find the assessment of the support given to Dr Kelly ... to be risible.
"Never again should someone be put in such a position. Never again should there be such feeble support for an employee in a time of such crisis," he concluded.
The media were criticised by Mr Gompertz for the behaviour of some journalists both before and after Dr Kelly's death, and Mr Gilligan was described as an "unreliable" witness because his accounts of meeting Dr Kelly changed and he had lost some of his notes. However, he pointedly observed, the family had seen how the Government had refused to accept any blame, and "this should be contrasted with the approach of the BBC in being prepared to admit mistakes and accept criticism".Reuse content