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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Kelly family attacks 'government duplicity'
Dr David Kelly
Dr Kelly said he did not believe he was the BBC's main source
Dr David Kelly's family want to expose the government's "duplicity" in the way it treated the scientist before his apparent suicide, their barrister has told the Hutton inquiry.

In closing statements at the inquiry, government QC Jonathan Sumption instead argued it was "completely unjustified" to criticise the government for somehow trying to reveal Dr Kelly's name by stealth.

Dr Kelly apparently killed himself after being named as the suspected source of a BBC report of claims that the government "sexed up" a dossier on the threat from Iraq.

The six week inquiry into his death ended on Thursday afternoon - although it does plan to cross-examine the Ministry of Defence's top official on Tuesday.

Lord Hutton will now write his report, which he hopes to deliver in late November or December.

Barristers for the BBC and its journalist Andrew Gilligan also put their cases on the final day, with the inquiry's counsel effectively summing up all the evidence in his closing statement.

This was a cynical abuse of power which deserves the strongest possible condemnation

Kelly family QC Jeremy Gompertz attacked the "hypocrisy" of the government and accused Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon of lying in denying there was a strategy to use Dr Kelly in the row with the BBC.

"This was a cynical abuse of power which deserves the strongest possible condemnation," he said.

The nation had lost its greatest biological weapons expert, someone who had been used by the government "as a pawn in their political battle with the BBC" and characterised to journalists as a "middle ranking official".

He continued: "No wonder Dr Kelly felt betrayed after giving his life in service to the country... In his despair, he seems to have taken his own life."

Jonathan Sumption QC
Jonathan Sumption QC said civil servants are not guaranteed anonymity

"Never again should someone be put in such a position," said Mr Gompertz, who pointed to the naming of Dr Kelly and the "total lack of care" he received amid a media frenzy.

He said no credence should be given to Mr Gilligan's evidence, except where it could be corroborated by independent sources.

The family believed the media generally needed to "raise its game" in the wake of the harassment Dr Kelly suffered before his death - and that suffered by his family later.

'Exceptionally unfair'

The family had been "deeply hurt and angered" when MoD personnel director Richard Hatfield told the inquiry Dr Kelly had committed a "fundamental failing" in meeting Mr Gilligan.

Government barrister Mr Sumption denied there was some "underhand strategy" to name Dr Kelly, involving people from across government.

22 days of oral evidence
74 witnesses
Thousands of documents

"Against the background of a raging controversy in the press and Parliament", the government neither could nor should have tried to keep his identity concealed indefinitely, he said.

"It's far too easy to say simply, because we know about the tragedy ... that something else, anything else would have been better than what was actually done," he said.

Dossier defence

Mr Sumption said the government was entitled to defend itself against "scandalous" claims by publishing the truth.

Officials had tried to give advice and "outstanding" support after Dr Kelly was named in the press, he said.

What are your views of the inquiry?
The inquiry has unearthed some very worrying questions about how the government operates
Antony Francis, England

Mr Sumption also underlined the "rigorous" way intelligence for last September's Iraq dossier was handled.

"It was out of the question that the prime minister was to have no say" on the dossier, he said, but every Downing Street suggestion was "scrupulously considered" by Joint Intelligence Committee chairman John Scarlett and assessment officials against the intelligence.

Discontent among some lower level intelligence officials had been from specialists "out of the loop" on the details of specific intelligence.

'Slips' acknowledged

Mr Sumption said Dr Kelly could "by no stretch of the imagination be described as one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier" - the description used in the BBC report.

The government's reaction had not been a personality driven one, but because Downing Street knew Mr Gilligan's story was a "travesty".

Mr Sumption criticised BBC governors for accepting managers' account of events without an investigation.

BBC counsel Andrew Caldecott QC said the corporation still thought it was in the public interest to broadcast the concerns of renowned expert Dr Kelly.

Mr Caldecott queried whether intelligence was truly the basis for a last minute change to the dossier, prompted by No 10 official Jonathan Powell, designed to stop critics arguing that Saddam Hussein would only use banned weapons if attacked.

Kelly's intentions

Mr Caldecott acknowledged slips by Mr Gilligan in live broadcasts and admitted Downing Street should have been asked to respond to the claims before the report.

But Mr Campbell had escalated the dossier row when he went before MPs and accused the BBC of lies and "institutional political bias".

Mr Gilligan's barrister, Heather Rogers, said government officials should not have acted like "playground bullies" trying to "get Gilligan", who had been doing his journalistic duty.

Dr Kelly had volunteered information to Mr Gilligan - and other journalists - "intending that it should be published", she said.

Mr Gilligan had tried to report Dr Kelly's views accurately but, in hindsight, acknowledged he had inadvertently made some mistakes.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Six weeks of remarkable disclosures"


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