The Sketch: Voices from a Britain we thought had gone. Let's just hope Blair heard them

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The Independent Online

The first thing to note is that no one in the Kelly family has any media skills at all. This is their modern flaw: they don't want to be sympathised with. That's not the way you deal with these situations in days like these.

One example: Janice Kelly told the inquiry how her husband had squeezed in seven hours of lawn maintenance between two hectic top-level international trips. You couldn't help thinking: "Why couldn't she do the lawns herself? Why didn't she help?" After three quarters of an hour we learnt that the pills David Kelly took out there in the woods were her coproxamol. They were for her arthritis. She is disabled by arthritis. You can't help with lawns when you're disabled by arthritis. It emerged as an incidental.

The only raw emotion she displayed also got out by mistake. Right at the end of her evidence she was asked if there was anything else she wanted to say. Yes, there was. She wanted to thank Lord Hutton and his counsel,James Dingemans, for (fractional pause, brief struggle) the dignified way they were conducting the inquiry. At that point, I have to say, the notebook started swimming in front of my eyes.

The Kellys belong to a hidden Britain that you might have thought had disappeared entirely. Duty. Work. Family. Privacy. Had Downing Street retained its ascendancy we can only imagine what the Prime Minister's men would have made of these psychological flaws.

Out of the family's evidence came poignant hints of their domestic life. Coffee on the lawn after dinner. Watering the grass in the dry spell. Saturday lunch with their daughters; the walk through the meadow to look at the foal. The pub where they were well known. The local historical society, which met at their house. And all this in Kingston Bagpuize, one of Oxfordshire's idyllic villages.

Glimpses, only, as I say, they keep their feelings to themselves. But this privacy produces certainty, and Mrs Kelly's evidence rang as true as a bell.

Geoff Hoon's assertions that his employee was well treated will never stand up again. Dr Kelly was appalled to have been named. The briefings against him seem particularly toxic. The references to his "lowly status". The way he was belittled. The implications of disloyalty. The implied threats to his career, his pension. The manner in which he was forced into the public arena - something he likened to an extension of the reprimand given by his line manager.

The family's information cuts the ground out from under the Government. Far from being a middle-ranking official it turns out he was being considered for some honour, higher than CMG which he'd already got. He was the "expert of choice" for the ministry to put out to the media. And far from giving unauthorised briefings, talking to the media both attributably and off the record was part of his job description - indeed it was there on his CV. He'd been given media training by the MoD for just this purpose.

We can only hope the Prime Minister heard Mrs Kelly's evidence: if he did, it's certain he'll never forget it.