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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 04:12 GMT 05:12 UK
Kelly family's smear fears
Janice Kelly
Media coverage has added to the pressures on Mrs Kelly
Dr David Kelly's family have expressed fears that government officials have been spreading criticisms of the dead scientist to newspapers.

Lawyers for the weapons expert's wife and daughters wrote to the government raising fears that briefings of "selective information" would mean the public would prejudge Lord Hutton's inquiry.

The concerns are revealed among the thousands of pages of documents released by the inquiry through the internet on Saturday.

There is, therefore, a danger that the public will prejudge the issues on the basis of the selective information filtered out through so-called 'sources'.
Dr Kelly's family lawyer
Dr Kelly's family have largely kept a public silence since the scientist's apparent suicide last month but the documents show their private concerns.

Mrs Kelly is due to give evidence the week after next.

Their lawyer, Peter Jacobsen, wrote to one of the government's solicitors on 7 August attaching two newspaper articles.

One was the Independent newspaper story about Dr Kelly being compared to Walter Mitt - comments for which Number 10 spokesman Tom Kelly has apologised.

Authorised?

But it is a different part of the article which Mr Jacobsen highlights.

In the article, he says, "inter alia, it is asserted that, according to MoD sources, Dr Kelly was being investigated for his contact with journalists long before the current difficulties...

"If information of this kind is being disseminated, either formally or informally, I should like to know on whose authority this is being done.

"On the one hand the government for every good reason is calling for restraint during the course of the inquiry which has, of course, commenced.

"On the other hand, the various arms of government appear at least through the press to be following a different course...

"Obviously Dr Kelly has now been the subject of criticism in the media without the facts firstly having been established by Lord Hutton.

"There is, therefore, a danger that the public will prejudge the issues on the basis of the selective information filtered out through so-called 'sources'."

Media warnings

The letter also queries what "Whitehall protocol" exists for officials, rather than ministers, being questioned by MPs on select committees.

Dr Kelly was publicly questioned by the Foreign Affairs Committee - and privately by the Security and Intelligence Committee - in the week of his death.

Mr Jacobsen says he expects the medical report filed about Dr Kelly as he trained for his latest Iraq briefing will be released to the inquiry.

He adds: "In order to better understand the situation, guide the family through this traumatic time and forewarn them of possible revelations about Dr Kelly which they will otherwise learn for the first time through the media, I need to see the paperwork relating to Dr Kelly."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"It would normally take thirty years for these documents to see the light of day"



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