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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
'I just thought he had a broken heart'

By Mark Davies
BBC News Online political reporter at the Hutton inquiry

In a clear, composed voice Janice Kelly described sitting quietly opposite her husband in their Oxfordshire home eating sandwiches and drinking water.

He was "distracted...dejected...desperate...I just thought he had a broken heart. He had shrunk into himself."

Janice Kelly arrives at the inquiry on Monday
Mrs Kelly: He looked so desperate
It was their last meal together. A few hours later, taking a knife he had owned since his days as a boy scout, Dr David Kelly left the family home and never returned.

It was the day the Hutton inquiry set aside drafts of the Iraq dossier, Downing Street e-mails and the finer details of Dr Kelly's personnel file. This was a day for his family to speak about their husband, father and brother.

Shortly before 1030 BST a photograph of Mrs Kelly flashed up on every computer screen in the court room 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Minutes later, her soft voice echoed through the room as she began to describe the man she met when he was a student at Leeds University: the workaholic scientist who enjoyed a game of cribbage in the pub and working on his vegetable patch.

He got the impression that the gloves were off. He felt totally let down and betrayed
Janice Kelly
A man who had been horrified at the prospect of his name appearing in the press as the civil servant who had spoken to BBC correspondent Andrew Gilligan, and who felt betrayed as he and his wife were forced to flee their home.

It was a vivid, heart-rending picture of the traumas being faced by the family as they tried to contend with an unfamiliar world; how Mrs Kelly desperately attempted to take her husband's mind off things as they escaped the media glare in Cornwall.

How the man who had had guns pointed at him by Saddam Hussein's henchmen had never appeared so unhappy as he did as she looked at him as they walked along a beach on England's south coast.

And how she had been concerned to see the stress on her husband's face as he arrived to give evidence to a Commons committee on what was their 36th wedding anniversary.

The court room was silent as Mrs Kelly's voice, cracking only at the end as she thanked Lord Hutton for his approach to the inquiry, was transmitted to the lawyers, press and public from an adjoining court room.


Outside, the massed ranks of photographers which greeted Tony Blair were nowhere to be seen. This was not a day for a media scrum.

Mrs Kelly told of her husband's devotion to his work, cramming in working trips abroad over weekends in order to spend the rest of the week in the office.

"He would have done the whole job for nothing if he had not had to support a wife and family," she said.

His travelling and ever-changing plans had not been easy to live with at times, Mrs Kelly admitted, though she firmly rejected newspaper reports that the couple had rowed.

Dr Kelly's widow then described how their quiet middle-class lifestyle had been turned upside down by what Tony Blair described last week as the "raging storm" over Andrew Gilligan's reports.


Although not in the room, Mrs Kelly's evidence was utterly compelling and moving.

She told of her dismay when she learned that her husband was the MOD official who had met Mr Gilligan. "It's me," said Dr Kelly as the report appeared on the television news.

There was an edge of anger and frustration in her voice as she took the inquiry through the events before his death.

And that was most apparent as she rejected the suggestion from a Downing Street spokesman that her husband was a "Walter Mitty" type character.

That comment had "devastated" her, she said - her husband was nothing of the sort; rather he was a "modest, shy, retiring guy".

But the overwhelming feeling throughout the evidence was one of the deep sadness of a woman who had desperately tried to comfort her husband during his darkest hours.

There was the image of the couple driving down the M4 - Dr Kelly tense and quiet, his wife vainly trying to persuade him to treat the trip as a holiday - as they escaped the media storm grew around their Oxfordshire home.

There was the image of the Kellys walking around the Lost Gardens of Heligan tourist attraction: "He didn't see the gardens at all. He was in a world of his own."


And she told of the "strained and difficult" conversations during another trip to the Eden Project ecological park and Dr Kelly "grim and unhappy" as the couple walked along a Cornish beach.

Mrs Kelly went on to describe her last day with her husband back at home in Oxfordshire.

He had been working in his study, popping out for mid-morning coffee. Later they looked at some photographs she brought to show him, before he went to sit alone in their lounge.

After having their lunch together - "He couldn't put two sentences together" - Mrs Kelly, who suffers from arthritis, went to lie down.

She had been suffering from a "huge headache" which had made her physically sick - "because he looked so desperate".

At some point in the afternoon, Dr Kelly went to see his wife and asked if she was OK. "I said: 'yes I will be fine'."

The scientist, who suffered from back problems, said he was going for his regular walk. She never saw him alive again.

The BBC's George Eykyn
"She spoke clearly and unhesitatingly throughout"

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