Kelly family wants Hutton to recall Blair over role in naming scientist

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Indy Politics

The family of Dr David Kelly wants the Prime Minister to be recalled for cross-examination at the next phase of Lord Hutton's inquiry.

In a request likely to be granted, the Kellys plan to ask for Tony Blair to be questioned again over his role in the "naming strategy" for the weapons scientist. They are upset at Mr Blair's claim last week that Dr Kelly was told his name was likely to be issued after he admitted meeting the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan to discuss the Iraq weapons dossier. Janice Kelly, the scientist's widow, told Lord Hutton that her husband was assured his identity would not be made public and felt "betrayed" when it was confirmed to the media by the Ministry of Defence press office.

Allies of Mr Blair still hope he will not be recalled but are increasingly anxious about evidence at the inquiry that has raised questions on his precise involvement in the naming strategy and the Government's claim that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons in 45 minutes.

If recalled, Mr Blair is likely to be further questioned about apparent discrepancies between his statement days after Dr Kelly's death and what has been said at the inquiry.

On an official flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong on 22 July, the Prime Minister "categorically" denied he had "authorised the leaking of the name of Dr Kelly". But at the inquiry, Mr Blair was forced to admit his central role in the process that led to Dr Kelly's name being confirmed to the media. He held four meetings over two days in his Downing Street study at which the "naming strategy" was agreed.

The Prime Minister might also be asked about his previous denial of reports that intelligence staff were worried about the 45-minute claim. He told the Commons in June: "The allegation that the 45-minute claim provoked disquiet among the intelligence community is ... completely and totally untrue." On Thursday, two intelligence officers said they had expressed concerns over the claim.