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'Profoundly saddened' Blair orders inquiry into David Kelly's death

H S Rao in London | July 19, 2003 23:34 IST

Weapons expert David Kelly, whose death has plunged Prime Minister Tony Blair's government deeper into controversy over the intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq, apparently killed himself by slashing his left wrist, the British police said on Saturday.

Confirming that the body found on Friday was that of Kelly, suspected to be the source behind the BBC's report that the Blair government had 'sexed up' its dossier on Iraq's weapons capabilities, police said the postmortem revealed he died because of a cut to his left wrist.

"The cause of death was haemorrhaging from a wound to his left wrist. The injury is consistent with having been caused by a bladed object," acting Superintendent David Purnell of the Thames Valley police said.

"We have recovered a knife and an open packet of coprocamol tablets at the scene. Whilst our inquiries are continuing, there is no indication at this stage of any other party being involved," he said.

Faced with intense criticism, Blair, who is currently on a visit to Japan and has ordered an independent judicial inquiry into the incident, said, "We should make our judgment after we get our facts."

He maintained a stony silence when asked at a press conference if he had 'blood on his hands'.

The government announced Lord Hutton would head the probe and the report would be presented in a few weeks.

Blair refused to be drawn when asked if Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon or his communication's chief Alastair Campbell would resign over the affair.

"Politicians and the media alike should show some respect and restraint" ahead of the inquiry into Kelly's death, Blair said.

"This is an absolutely terrible tragedy. I'm profoundly saddened for David Kelly and for his family. He was a fine public servant who did an immense amount of good for his country in the past and I'm sure would have done so again in the future," he said.

Kelly's wife reportedly said he was stressed and 'very, very angry' about being caught in the controversy.

Former Labour minister Glenda Jackson, in a statement, said Blair should resign as prime minister over Kelly's death.

"The judicial inquiry into his death would paralyse the government while Blair remained," she said adding, 'Bullets should be bitten'.


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