Tory leader welcomes inquiry and calls on PM to end Far East tour

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair came under pressure yesterday to cancel his trip to East Asia and even recall Parliament to deal with the political fallout surrounding the death of David Kelly.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader, welcomed the independent judicial inquiry into Dr Kelly's death but said the "tragic" developments made it necessary for the Prime Minster to come home.

He said: "There are very many questions that will need to be asked over the coming days, and I think if I were the Prime Minister I would want to be back here to deal with these."

The Conservative leader said he hoped the inquiry would be broad ranging and "not something solely on the [Ministry of Defence]".

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, said news of Dr Kelly's death was "desperately sad". He welcomed the plans for an inquiry.

Donald Anderson, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was asked if he thought the questioning of Dr Kelly had been too strong.

He told Radio 4's The World At One: "If it was strong, the criticisms appear to be more directed against the Ministry of Defence, rather than against him. It wasn't as if he could be seen as a victim in the corner, or a person against whom a complaint was being made. So I don't think the questioning was aggressive against him. I concede, of course, it was wholly outside his normal experience, [and] therefore must have certainly been an ordeal for him.

"But remember, he had gone to his line management, he had said: 'I may be the person involved'. And I'm sure that if the Ministry of Defence had done nothing about it and not made it public, the answer would have been subject to criticism at that time."

Dr Kelly's local MP, Robert Jackson, said that if he had committed suicide, the BBC were to blame. He said: "I think the responsibility of the BBC should not go unmentioned. The management refused to say he was not the source [the journalist Andrew] Gilligan had given them."