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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
BBC 'taped Kelly's WMD concerns'
Dr David Kelly spoke to the BBC's Susan Watts
The BBC has a tape of scientist Dr David Kelly expressing concern about the way Iraq weapons intelligence was presented, it has emerged.

The science editor of Newsnight, Susan Watts, recorded her conversation with Dr Kelly, according to the BBC's media correspondent Torin Douglas.

The BBC is expected to submit the tape as part of its evidence to the judicial inquiry led by Lord Hutton into Dr Kelly's death.

The BBC will not discuss the content of the tape, but is thought to regard it as a useful part of its evidence, rather than the centrepiece.

Dr Kelly was found dead in woods near his Oxfordshire home last Friday.

The weapons expert apparently killed himself after coming under intense scrutiny following BBC reports that Iraqi weapons intelligence had been exaggerated by the government.

'Seized upon'

After his death, the BBC confirmed Dr Kelly had been the source for three journalists who had reported concern among the intelligence community.

On Newsnight on 2 and 4 June, Ms Watts had quoted an unnamed source at length, as saying the government was "obsessed with finding intelligence on immediate Iraqi threats".

It was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion
Susan Watts' Newsnight source on the controversial 45-minute claim

The source was reported as questioning the claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

"It was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion," the source said.

"They were desperate for information, they were pushing hard for information which could be released. That was one that popped up and it was seized on and it's unfortunate that it was.

"That's why there is the argument between the intelligence services and the Cabinet Office/No 10 - because they picked up on it and once they've picked up on it, you can't pull it back from them."

Heat on Hoon

The Guardian says the tape's existence explains the corporation's determination to stick by its story, under the onslaught of criticism from government figures.

Other newspapers on Wednesday continue to question who was responsible for Dr Kelly's name becoming public.

I think we should all heed what the prime minister said about the importance of restraint
Jack Straw

Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday "emphatically" denied he had authorised Dr Kelly's identity to be made public.

That has made several commentators look again at Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, who had previously insisted the MoD made great efforts to protect the anonymity of Dr Kelly.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he would not be drawn on those observations.

"I am not accepting your kind invitation to be led down these rabbit holes," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think we should all heed what the prime minister said about the importance of restraint.

"We should recognise that the funeral of Dr Kelly has not taken place, but in addition, if you have a judicial inquiry, you should allow it to proceed."


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