“You are not to speak about David Kelly”
- Carne Ross told if he discussed Dr Kelly in testimony, he would be silenced
- He intended to say a few words about him as a tribute which he had submitted earlier
PUBLISHED: 00:48, 24 March 2013 | UPDATED: 00:49, 24 March 2013
A former British diplomat has revealed he was ‘warned’ by the senior civil servant running the Iraq Inquiry not to mention the late biological weapons expert Dr David Kelly when giving evidence.
Carne Ross, the UK’s Iraq expert at the UN Security Council between 1998 and 2002, said he was told by the ‘very aggressive’ official that if he discussed Dr Kelly during his testimony, he would be silenced.
It is understood the official who delivered the order was Margaret Aldred, secretary of the Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot.
The inquiry was set up in 2009 to examine why Tony Blair took Britain into war.
Mr Ross was a close friend of Dr Kelly, a Ministry of Defence employee and world-renowned scientist who was found dead in an Oxfordshire wood in 2003. Dr Kelly had been named as the prime source of a BBC report accusing the Blair Government of lying to take Britain into the war.
Having worked with Dr Kelly for several years, Mr Ross intended to say a few words about him as a tribute which he submitted in earlier written evidence.
A 2003 public inquiry found Dr Kelly committed suicide. But successive governments have refused to hold a full coroner’s inquest, making him the only person in modern English legal history to be denied a proper inquest and fuelling claims of a cover-up.
Last month a group of doctors wrote to the chief coroner of England and Wales, Peter Thornton QC, urging him to resume the inquest which was halted in 2003. This was rejected. The revelation that a witness was informed by an inquiry official what they could and could not discuss before giving evidence raises serious questions about its impartiality.
And this weekend a senior MP who asked to remain anonymous has revealed that when he offered to submit evidence about Dr Kelly’s death to the inquiry in 2009, he was told by Chilcot personally that he ‘did not want to touch the Kelly issue’.
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Mr Ross, who now runs New York-based diplomatic advisory group Independent Diplomat, recalled the day he gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry in July 2010. He said: ‘I was taken into the room where witnesses sat and shortly before I was to testify an official came in and said, “You are not to speak about David Kelly.” ’
He was told that if he did the videolink of his evidence to the press would be cut and he would have to leave. Having been warned, he kept quiet.
He said: ‘I wasn’t happy about it. I felt very strongly about David. He was a man of honesty and integrity.
‘I wanted to remember him in that setting and they prevented me for no good reason. What difference would it have made? It’s pure control freakery. It was weird. Chilcot was incredibly tense. Clearly he feared I was going to say something.’
When asked if he thought Dr Kelly killed himself, Mr Ross said: ‘I don’t know. I would like to see the people who hounded him to his death brought to account. It was as good as murder, what they did. If you publicly humiliate a man, and you drive him to his death, it’s as bad as putting hemlock in his soup.’
An Iraq Inquiry spokesman refused to comment.