Posted by Sadie from ? (220.127.116.11) on Friday, July 18, 2003 at 10:53AM :
In Reply to: looks like a homicide to me posted by Sadie from ? (18.104.22.168) on Friday, July 18, 2003 at 10:47AM :
MPs shocked by expert's disappearance
2003/07/18 12:59:23 GMT
MPs have reacted with shock and disbelief at the discovery of a body in the search for missing Iraq weapons expert Dr David Kelly.
They said their thoughts were with Dr Kelly's family after the discovery in Oxfordshire.
Members of the foreign affairs select committee, which questioned Dr Kelly earlier this week, expressed their concern about the latest news on Friday.
And a former minister said the latest development added another twist to the "soap drama" of the row over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction,
Many of the MPs on the foreign affairs committee have said the scientist was not used to the political and media spotlight which had fallen on his in recent weeks.
They had already backed Dr Kelly's view that he was not the BBC's main source for a story on Iraq's weapons.
Former minister Peter Kilfoyle said: "Our first thoughts have to be those of sympathy for Dr Kelly's family, if what we all fear is confirmed.
"This adds another bizarre twist to this whole ongoing soap drama which is the weapons of mass destruction excuse for going to war with Iraq.
"We don't know exactly what Dr Kelly's own frame of mind was in the build-up to his appearance before the select committee. We don't know what his immediate reaction was to the cross-examination.
"I think it just underlines that need to take this into a different realm and have an independent inquiry into these issues.
"We owe it to Parliament and to the people, and not least to the family of Dr Kelly, to get to the bottom of this in a way which is completely untarnished.
"People would have more faith in the ability of an independent inquiry chaired by a judge than they would in any number of parliamentary committees."
Committee chairman Donald Anderson told BBC News 24: "It looks very tragic indeed. It shows the human consequences and puts much of that has been done recently into perspective."
Mr Anderson said Dr Kelly had come across as someone rather relaxed before the committee.
"There was some suggestion he might have someone alongside him to give him confidence but he rejected that," he said.
"He seemed on top of it."
John Maples, a Conservative member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "If it is Dr Kelly, it is just awful. What can you say? Nothing.
"There must be more to this than we had thought. I do not know what that means, I just think there is.
"When he came to give evidence, obviously he would rather not have been there. But it must have been clear to him, as it was to us, that he wasn't the guy.
"In fact, several people (on the committee) said 'you have been used by the government'.
"I would have thought he would have gone away from that meeting feeling better, feeling at least 'I am in the clear with these guys'."
In the spotlight
His fellow Tory committee member Richard Ottaway said people like Dr Kelly were not used to the pressure faced by MPs on a day-to-day basis.
He said would be a "tragedy of ghastly proportions" if "political machinations" had resulted in the death of Dr Kelly.
"He did give a hint of the pressure he was under when he said he was unable to get to his house at the moment because of the media intrusion," he said.
"He is not used to the media glare, he is not used to the intense spotlight he has been put under."
Labour committee member Gisela Stuart, said the news about Dr Kelly was tragic and thoughts should be for his family.
"There is a huge danger at this stage of making a mistake and falling into either quick judgements or starting to play party political games," she added.
Another Labour committee member Eric Illsley told BBC News 24: "I would not have thought that simply appearing before a select committee on this issue would be sufficient for him to take the actions that he has done."
Downing Street response
Lib Dem committee member David Chidgey said he thought the MPs had questioned Dr Kelly "firmly and fairly".
People could only hazard a guess about how what had caused his disappearance, said Mr Chidgey.
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "If this is David Kelly, then his death is desperately sad.
"We don't yet know what has happened to him but I would offer my deepest sympathies to his family."
Before news that police had found a body in their search for Dr Kelly, Downing Street was keen to rebut suggestions the official had been made a "fall guy".
A Number 10 spokesman said the official had volunteered the information that he had met the BBC correspondent who had sparked the latest weapons row.
Five days had passed before the Ministry of Defence gave details of the official whom it thought might be the source of that story.
Dr Kelly had not been named but had been told it was likely he would be identified because of the details given out by the MoD, said the spokesman.
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