British Iraqi weapons expert David Kelly predicted he would be "found dead in the woods" five months before he apparently committed suicide in a forested area near his home, an inquiry into his death has been told.
A senior British diplomat, David Boucher, said Dr Kelly had predicted his own death if Britain invaded Iraq, in a conversation with him in Geneva in late February, about a month before the start of the war.
Mr Boucher, Britain's permanent representative to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, said at the time he believed Dr Kelly was concerned about being seen as a "liar" by Iraqi contacts, whom he had encouraged to co-operate with UN weapons inspectors before the war, assuring them they "had nothing to fear".
"I thought he might have meant that he was at risk of being attacked by the Iraqis in some way," Mr Boucher wrote in an August 5 email to a senior Foreign Office official.
However, after hearing of Dr Kelly's death, he realised the scientist "may have been thinking on different lines".
Dr Kelly's body was found in a wooded area near his home in mid July after he had been revealed as the source of a BBC report alleging that the office of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had "sexed up" last September's prewar Iraqi weapons dossier.
His comments to Mr Boucher indicate that the lead-up to the Iraqi war had put him under considerable mental strain.
Mr Blair is expected to become only the second British prime minister to appear before a judicial inquiry when he gives evidence to Lord Hutton on Thursday.
He is likely to face a barrage of questions about his role in the Government's naming of Dr Kelly, one of its most experienced chemical and biological weapons experts, eight days before he apparently slashed his wrists.
The Kelly affair, which started out as a row between the BBC and Downing Street's communications chief, Alastair Campbell, over a report by the BBC's defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, has sent the British public's trust in the Blair Government to a record low.
Mr Campbell strongly objected to the allegation by Mr Gilligan that Number 10 inserted a claim into September's dossier that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be deployed within 45 minutes.
Mr Boucher said Dr Kelly, a former UN weapons inspector, felt that British intelligence services had come under pressure to produce a "robust" dossier on Iraq's weapons program to assist in Mr Blair's case for war.
Earlier, a Sunday Times journalist, Nick Rufford, had told the Hutton inquiry that Dr Kelly had felt he had been "put through the wringer" by the Defence Minister, Geoff Hoon, after he had told his bosses that he had spoken to Mr Gilligan.
Asked if he had been quoted accurately by Mr Gilligan, the scientist told Mr Rufford: "I talked to him about factual stuff, the rest is bulls---."
|Print this article Email to a friend||Top|
|Also in World|
|text | handheld (how to)||
Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.
|advertise | contact us|