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Determined widow prepares to fight back
By Paul Palmer, Evening Standard
28 January 2004

Dr Kelly's widow Janice is preparing to launch a fierce defence of her late husband's memory.

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As Lord Hutton effectively cleared all the Government of any complicity in his death, the Kelly family are said to be furious by the inquiry's findings that there was no "underhand" strategy to publicly release the weapon expert's name.

In a crisis meeting at the family farmhouse in Oxfordshire, Mrs Kelly and her three daughters are set to dismiss Lord Hutton's claims that neither Downing Street nor the Ministry of Defence played any direct part in his suicide last summer.

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Lord Hutton has concluded that Dr Kelly was driven to his death by his shame over being outed in the media, citing psychiatrists' evidence that he was likely to have been emotionally unstable and erratic.

Although determined to avoid the spotlight, Mrs Kelly, who remains under police guard, has told friends all along that if she is unhappy with any aspect of the findings she will speak out.

A family friend said: "There is no doubt that she will see this as dumping on her husband and a total betrayal."

Another friend said the family are planning the precise nature of how they will reply to the Hutton findings. "Janice is a very strong woman, much stronger than some people think, and is determined to have her say."

Mrs Kelly read her advance copy of the report late into last night, in her small sitting room. She is being closely advised by her daughters, Sian, 32, and twins Ellen and Rachel, 30.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the emotions this painfully shy and arthritic 58-year-old woman endured as she read about a husband with whom she thought she would continue to live quietly and anonymously.

Janice Kelly had an oldfashioned view of her role as a mother and wife. As Dr Kelly rose through academia to the Ministry of Defence and Whitehall, she would just sit waiting for him to come home.

As the years went on, the couple seemed to drift slowly apart. It left them, in the months before his death, tense and hesitant with each other, according to friends.

"There is no question there were marital problems at home," says Terence Taylor, a close friend who stayed with the couple shortly before Dr Kelly's death.

"It is a deeply private subject but, from my point of view and from what I observed, there were problems within the marriage, very much so." Even when Dr Kelly was grappling with the Gilligan crisis last summer, his wife could only stand by and observe his distress.

Today this reserved woman has been offered up to £750,000 to sell her story but her daughters have cautioned against it.

Even so, friends say they have observed a subtle change in recent weeks. They are adamant that, now she has the report in her hands, she fully intends to put her side of the story.

Almost every night since his apparent suicide, Mrs Kelly has sat for hours in the kitchen of this farmhouse, supper-for-one packed away in her walk-in larder. Alone much of the time, friends say that she has, unsurprisingly, thought of little other than what drove her husband to his death.

Whatever the political fallout, Janice Kelly will not keep her farmhouse door shut for long.

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