Sunday, August 02, 2009

Chilcot to investigate Dr Kelly questions?

Iraq probe will include death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly

By Christopher Leake

Last updated at 11:56 PM on 01st August 2009

The death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly is expected to feature in the new official inquiry into the Iraq War, on the advice of the Government’s most senior legal adviser.

Attorney General Baroness Scotland has recommended that questions raised by Dr Kelly’s death should be considered by Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry.

The intervention of Baroness Scotland comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed that Mai Pederson, a close confidante of the Government scientist, has written to the law chief.

Ms Pederson, 49, a US Air Force linguist who worked in Iraq with Dr Kelly’s weapons-inspection team, called on the Minister to include the ‘suspicious circumstances’ of his death in the long-awaited inquiry, which will have Tony Blair as a star witness.

It was thought that Labour would block attempts to reignite the controversy over Dr Kelly’s death, which the earlier Hutton Inquiry ruled was suicide despite claims that he may have been murdered.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown initially wanted the Chilcot Inquiry to be held in private.

But in a letter to Ms Pederson’s Washington DC lawyer, Mark Zaid, Baroness Scotland’s private secretary, Lena Parmar, said: ‘Thank you for your letter of July 16 calling for a further investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly.

'The Attorney General has seen your letter. It seems to us that the matters you raise are ones which should be considered in the context of the Iraq inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot.

‘I am therefore referring your letter to the Inquiry Secretariat.’
Tony Blair, who was Prime Minister at the time of Dr Kelly’s death, and security chiefs such as MI6’s former head, Sir John Scarlett, will now be asked about the weapons expert, whose body was found in woods near his home in Oxfordshire.

Sir John Chilcot, a former civil servant, has said that his imminent inquiry, which is due to report in 2011, ‘will not shy away from making criticism’.

The Hutton Inquiry, set up by Mr Blair, ruled that 59-year-old Dr Kelly used a blunt gardening knife to slit the ulnar artery on his left wrist on July 18, 2003, and swallowed the painkiller co-proxamol after he was exposed as the source of a BBC report questioning the use of weapons of mass destruction as justification for war in Iraq.

But a team of 13 eminent doctors say the wound to the tiny artery could not have caused his death. They also contend that the co-proxamol dosage was non-fatal.

Ms Pederson revealed in an interview with this newspaper a year ago that Dr Kelly was often unable to use his right hand because of an elbow injury.

She said the hand’s grip was so weak he struggled to get a knife through a steak and that he would have had to be a ‘contortionist’ to have killed himself in the way the Hutton Inquiry claimed.

She also disclosed that he suffered from a disorder that made it difficult for him to swallow pills. She fears that he was murdered under the orders of loyalists to Saddam Hussein.

Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, who is campaigning for an inquest to be held into Dr Kelly’s death, said last night: ‘The obvious route is a coroner’s inquest, which so far has not taken place.’


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