Kelly felt 'betrayed' by MoD, widow tells inquiry

Hutton inquiry day 12: Kelly "deeply, deeply hurt" by Straw describing him as a "junior" official
Click to follow
Indy Politics

The widow of weapons expert David Kelly told the inquiry into her husband's death today that he felt "betrayed" by the MoD, which allowed his name to enter the public domain.

Janice Kelly, aged 58, spoke via a video link to the Hutton inquiry at the High Court in London - the first time she had broken her silence since a brief statement speaking of the "intolerable" pressures placed on her husband.

Mrs Kelly told the inquiry that in July when it became clear that his name was going to be made public, he said he felt " totally let down and betrayed."

She also said that he went "ballistic" when he learned that he was to give evidence before a televised meeting of the Commons foreign affairs select committee.

He was angry that in some of the media coverage surrounding his nam,ing, he was described as a "lowly official."

Mrs Kelly said he had received a telephone call from the Ministry of Defence press office "to say that we ought to leave the house, and quickly, so that we would not be followed by the press."

Mrs Kelly said her husband did not tell her if the MoD had made any other offers of support.

The couple packed and left within 10 minutes and drove along the M4, reaching Weston-super-Mare.

They decided to get a hotel for the night, she said, adding that her husband had been very tense during the drive and that she had asked him not to try to take telephone calls while he was driving.

He had tried to reach his line manager, Bryan Wells but reached an official named only as Kate.

He told her he had "cut and run", his wife told the inquiry.

She said she had never heard him use the phrase before, that it was unusual language for him, and a sign of how much stress he was under.

She said: "He was exceedingly upset, we both were, very anxious, very stressed."

Lord Hutton's inquiry is investigating the circumstances leading to the death of scientist Dr Kelly, whose body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home with his wrist slashed.

They moved from Weston to a hotel in Cornwall, where Mrs Kelly said her husband had received several phone calls telling him of the growing media coverage of the story.

One, from Olivia Bosch, who worked for Unscom and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, was particularly troubling.

"Effectively, she was telling him about the press coverage and that did seem to upset him more," she said.

"He did not like his name being in the public domain. He didn't like becoming the story."

When he learnt in another phone call that he was to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which would be televised, Mrs Kelly said: "He was ballistic, he just did not like that idea at all.

"He felt ... it would be a kind of continuation ... of a reprimand in the public domain."

Mrs Kelly said the following morning, over breakfast, they both read The Times, which had a couple of articles in it about Dr Kelly.

She said the first was a piece by Nick Rufford, giving a brief outline of his contact with Dr Kelly and naming him.

She said the second piece had a photograph of him and a rundown of his career details, which, she presumed, had been passed on by the MoD.

She acknowledged there were several references to Dr Kelly's "lowly status" and when asked what his reaction to that was, Mrs Kelly said: "He was rather knocked back by that."

Mrs Kelly said that while she packed, Dr Kelly made a number of phone calls to the MoD from the hotel's garden and came back to say they were OK to continue towards Cornwall.

Dr Kelly's worries had not eased the next day when his wife took him for lunch,

tried to keep him busy and made family phone calls in the evening.

She said he was preoccupied with arrangements for him to go to London on the Monday to prepare for his committee appearances.

She said: "He was worried about whether he would have to cope with briefings from the MoD on top of his thoughts and feelings that he had already got."

The inquiry has heard that Dr Kelly underwent lengthy briefings before the appearances.

On Monday 14 July he went to London for a briefing in the afternoon. When he returned, she asked him if he was being supported by the MoD and he said: "I suppose so, yes."

Mrs Kelly said her husband had been less certain when she asked the question in the past: "I was pretty worried about the lack of apparent support. He is not an easy man to support in some ways, he was always trying to give the impression he was OK."

Dr Kelly had accompanied Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, at an earlier hearing of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

Mrs Kelly told the inquiry that her husband was "deeply hurt" to learn that Mr Straw was not satisfied with the technical support the weapons expert had given him.

Mr Straw said he was upset that at the committee meeting "he had been accompanied by somebody so junior", she said.

Dr Kelly laughed upon hearing this, but "he was deeply, deeply hurt", she said.

Mrs Kelly said her husband felt "he was being treated rather like a fly, I think was the phrase he used".

She stressed her husband was not a "boastful" man but felt he could make "a small difference".

Having seen the TV footage of Dr Kelly at the committee and as he arrived in Parliament to give evidence, she said: "He really did look very stressed."

She said her husband was in "a nightmare position". Mrs Kelly took the train back from Cornwall to meet her husband on 16 July.

She said: "He looked totally exhausted. He was able to converse a little but it was very, very strained, I felt he was very tired, he was used up."

She added: "He only said it had gone all right and that was not a phrase he would usually use.

"He was obviously very stressed."

Comments