Hoon visits Kelly's widow

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Indy Politics

The Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon today visited the widow of scientist Dr David Kelly.

He arrived at 2pm at the home of Janice Kelly in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Mr Hoon was driven to the front gate of the six-bedroom cottage in a black Vauxhall Omega and was whisked inside by a male police officer and a female aide.

Looking grim-faced and wearing a sober suit, blue shirt and tie, he did not speak to waiting reporters and TV crews.

The ministry gave no details about the purpose of the visit, saying only that it was a "private meeting."

Mr Hoon left Dr Kelly's house at 3.17pm, having spent one hour, 17 minutes inside. Asked what the purpose of his visit was, he replied in a barely audible voice: "I came to see Mrs Kelly."

He refused to answer further questions and got into his waiting car and was driven off.

Acting on a tip-off, about 30 reporters, photographers and TV cameramen were waiting outside the house when Mr Hoon first arrived.

Kelly, who is thought to have committed suicide, was the source for a disputed BBC report citing claims that the government exaggerated the threat posed by Iraqi weapons.

Tony Blair has said he did not authorize a defence ministry decision to identify Kelly as the possible source for the story, a move that brought Kelly under intense media scrutiny and questiong by a parliamentary committee.

The ministry says it would not comment on who authorized the decision until a judicial inquiry opens into Kelly's death.