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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Kelly sermon blames 'unholy alliance'
Lichfield Cathedral
The archbishop gave his sermon at Lichfield Anglican Cathedral
The Roman Catholic archbishop of Birmingham has criticised an "unholy alliance" between politicians and the media during a tribute to the late Dr David Kelly.

Vincent Nichols said the Iraq weapons expert's death should cause everyone, especially those in public life, to reflect, in a sermon at Lichfield Anglican Cathedral.

The media and politicians were involved in an "unholy alliance" that manipulated opinion, he said.

Dr Kelly's body was discovered in woodland near his Oxfordshire home on Friday morning, with a knife and a packet of painkillers close by.

Police confirmed on Saturday that the senior Ministry of Defence adviser had bled to death from a cut to his wrist.

On Sunday, the BBC revealed Dr Kelly had been the principal source for a report that Downing Street "sexed up" an Iraq weapons dossier to boost public support for military action.

The archbishop said that both the media and politicians should reflect on the "grave responsibilities" to the truth that they should uphold.

He told his congregation: "It distresses me deeply to think that there are people in positions of eminent public responsibility who know the answer to the questions Dr Kelly was being asked.

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham Vincent Nichols
Archbishop Nichols: 'We will learn truth'

"Yet they remain silent, believing that the confidentiality of their sources is more important. More important than one man's life? I think not.

"Nor do we know the kind of political or personal pressure put on Dr Kelly. Certainly he complained of the harassment of the media. But there were other pressures too.

"I trust that in due course we will learn the truth about them.

Mr Nichols said that when public life and the media are so "devoid of compassion", and become "cavalier with the truth", they become a distortion of their true purpose.

"It is time for us to recover some of our finer qualities and enshrine them again in our public and civic life," he added.

And in another service at Southmoor Methodist Church, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, just yards from the Kelly family's home, prayers were offered for his widow, Janice.

Everybody in this small community is trying to come to terms with his death
Methodist preacher David Kershaw

Methodist preacher David Kershaw said during the service: "We pray for the family of Dr David Kelly and hope they can come to terms with this awful tragedy.

"We pray that God may offer comfort to them in helping them rebuild their lives.

"We pray that they will now be able to grieve in peace."

Speaking after the service he added: "It has been absolutely dreadful for the people here. Nobody understands how this could happen.

"Everybody is bewildered. The spot where he was found is a popular walking area and a lot of people go there blackberry picking.

He was such a good man and his death could have been avoided
Friend of Dr Kelly, Chrisopher Jones
"From what I understand he was a very conscientious man and everybody in this small community is trying to come to terms with his death."

News of the death of the former top germ warfare scientist had rocked the community in Southmoor.

Many who knew Dr Kelly said they were shocked and angry at the circumstances surrounding his death.

Landlady Lindsey Atkins of the Wagon and Horses pub, which is directly opposite the Kelly's home said: "The question is could David's death have been prevented now that all of this information is out in the open?

"It's all too late after this terrible tragedy."

Pensioner Christopher Jones, who said he had known Dr Kelly ever since he moved to the area, added: "He was such a good man and his death could have been avoided.

"I used to walk with David to our local pub most evenings. He was a gentleman, a polite, courteous and educated person, who was much loved and had many friends here."

Suicide condemned

Dr Kelly had regularly attended a Baha'i centre in Abingdon since converting to the religion four years ago in the United States.

The pacifist faith, founded in Iran about 160 years ago, preaches tolerance and unity.

Barnabas Leith, secretary of the national assembly of the Baha'is in the UK, added the 6,000 British Baha'is and the five million worldwide were "praying for the progress of David Kelly's soul", his wife, Janice, and three daughters, Sian, 32, and 30-year-old twins Rachel and Ellen.

Roman Catholic archbishop, Vincent Nichols
"We must reflect again on the grave responsibilities to the truth"

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