Kelly family protested over smear campaign

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Indy Politics

The distress felt by David Kelly's family at what they saw as a systematic campaign of denigration against him by the Government is revealed for the first time in documents released by the Hutton inquiry.

Lawyers acting for the scientist's wife and daughters wrote to the Treasury Solicitor accusing Downing Street of hypocrisy, and asking why he was being subjected to anonymous smears in the days before and even after his death.

In the aftermath of Dr Kelly's apparent suicide, Tony Blair called for a period of "restraint". The letter pointedly notes: "On the one hand the Government for every good reason is calling for restraint ... on the other hand the various arms of Government appear at least through the press to be following a different course ...

"If information of this nature is being disseminated ... should like to know on whose authority it is being done.

"Obviously Dr Kelly has now been the subject of criticism in the media without the facts firstly having been established by Lord Hutton. There is, therefore, a danger that the public will prejudge the issues on the basis of the selective information filtered out through so-called 'sources'."

The letter, by Peter Jacobsen, of solicitors Bircham Dyson Bell, states: "I am aware of press reports quoting unnamed MoD spokesmen. For example, may I refer you to the leading article on page 1 of The Independent of Monday 4th August where ... it is asserted that ... Dr Kelly was being investigated for his contact with journalists long before the current difficulties ... "

In the same Independent report a government source, later revealed to Tom Kelly, one of the Prime Minister's two official spokesmen, described the scientist as a "Walter Mitty" type fantasist.

The letter says: "In order to better understand the situation, guide the family through this traumatic time and forewarn them of possible revelations about Dr Kelly, which they will otherwise learn for the first time from the media, I need to see the paperwork relating to Dr Kelly and to which the Government clearly has access."

The Hutton inquiry has heard evidence that Mr Blair, Alastair Campbell, his director of communications and strategy, and Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, were among those involved in making Dr Kelly's identity public. Mr Blair agreed that the scientist should give evidence before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The family's lawyers demanded copies of "any Whitehall protocol" on civil servants appearing before the committees. The letter says that "all Dr Kelly's papers at home have been seized by Thames Valley police in the course of their inquiries to the coroner". Mrs Kelly did not even have a copy of his employment contract.

They asked the Government to supply a copy of the contract, copies of his personnel file, all documentation regarding the disclosure or confirmation of Dr Kelly's name and exchange of correspondence between him and his line manager.

The family has also asked to see the medical report prepared on Dr Kelly at RAF Honington shortly before he was due to return to Iraq. And they have also asked for information about allegations that documents relating to Dr Kelly had been shredded by MoD officials.

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