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Kelly's treatment was 'absolutely inexcusable', say friends
Jason Deans and Chris Tryhorn
Friday July 18, 2003
Friends of Dr David Kelly have spoken of his deep unhappiness at his treatment since he revealed he had spoken to the BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, saying he was "served up" to politicians who put "intolerable pressure" on him.
One scientist colleague described him as a man of deep integrity and said the way he had been treated as a "ping pong" ball in a political game was "absolutely inexcusable".
Tom Mangold, a television journalist and close friend of Dr Kelly, said he had spoken this morning to the government adviser's wife, Janice. She had said her husband was deeply unhappy and furious at how events had unfurled.
"She told me he had been under considerable stress, that he was very, very angry about what had happened at the committee, that he wasn't well, that he had been to a safe house, he hadn't liked that, he wanted to come home," Mr Mangold told ITV News.
"She didn't use the word depressed, but she said he was very, very stressed and unhappy about what had happened and this was really not the kind of world he wanted to live in."
Mr Mangold said Dr Kelly was a source to many reporters. His ambition was to help serious journalists understand a complex topic, he added.
Their comments echoed those of Richard Ottaway, a Conservative MP and member of the foreign affairs committee, who accused the government and the Ministry of Defence of "using" Dr Kelly.
"What I do regret is the way that he was quite obviously used by the government and the Ministry of Defence in this situation," he told Sky News.
"He clearly was not the key source in the story and the revelations that came out. Obviously it was someone else, and the way that an innocent scientist was used in this I think demands an inquiry at the highest level.
"He did behave honourably. I suspect all along he realised he wasn't the source but I think he thought he'd better tell his superiors that he had spoke to Mr Gilligan.
"Why then that honourable behaviour got distorted in the way that it was remains to be seen."
Mr Ottaway said he believed there were serious implications for politicians and this would go right to the top.
In an interview on BBC Radio 5, he complained about how Downing Street had insisted it was "99.9%" sure that Dr Kelly was the source even though the select committee had concluded he was unlikely to have been.
"This would have put enormous personal pressure on him," Mr Ottaway said.
Professor Alistair Hay, a close colleague of Dr Kelly, said the way in which Dr Kelly, who was reported missing yesterday, had been treated by politicians before the foreign affairs select committee earlier this week was "absolutely inexcusable".
"His whole demeanour during the foreign affairs committee was one of someone who had beaten by the process. I just think the pressure is intolerable for someone like him. He is a professional scientist, not somebody who should be a ping pong ball for politicians," Prof Hay told Radio 5 today after police revealed they had found a body near Dr Kelly's home.
"This man has been served up in a way which was, I just think, absolutely inexcusable," he added.
"He is just someone who had such a lot of integrity. He would have thought, if having spoken to this journalist and thinking he may have been the source of this contretemps between the BBC and the government, it would have been his integrity that would have made him [come forward]."
Eric Illsey, the Labour MP and member of the foreign affairs committee, branded the questioning of Dr Kelly "ridiculous".
Mr Illsey, who was not sitting with the foreign affairs committee on Tuesday when it heard Dr Kelly's evidence, criticised his colleague, Andrew Mackinlay, for telling Dr Kelly he was facing the "high court of parliament".
"When I listen to colleagues talking about that committee as the high court of parliament, that was clearly ridiculous and anybody who was facing that line of questioning would probably feel under pressure," Mr Illsey told Sky News. "Perhaps that was inappropriate."
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