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--------- Begin forwarded message ---------- From: portsideMod@netscape.net To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Scientist's demise stalks Blair Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 22:15:11 -0400 Message-ID: <2B2E7B6F.0F422564.5170BEA2@netscape.net> Scientist's Demise Stalks Blair by Christine Boyd Published on Monday, July 21, 2003 by the Globe and Mail (Canada) British Prime Minister Tony Blair struggled yesterday to quell the biggest crisis of his leadership, ruling out his resignation over the apparent suicide of a government weapons expert but promising to take responsibility if an inquiry finds that the government had a role in the man's death. Mr. Blair persevered with a tour through East Asia despite a weekend in which journalists peppered him with questions about his role in the scandal over the handling of intelligence used to justify war against Iraq. But he was unable to shake the spectre of David Kelly, found dead with his left wrist slit near his Oxfordshire home on Friday. The British Broadcasting Corp. confirmed yesterday that the scientist was its source for a May report that Downing Street inflated the threat posed by Iraq. "I have been through quite a few times when people have said this is a terrible situation and all the rest of it . . . but you go through tough times as a government and you go through difficult times as the Prime Minister," Mr. Blair told Britain's Sky Television before he left Japan for South Korea and China. Asked if he felt he could continue as Prime Minister, a haggard-looking Mr. Blair replied: "Absolutely." But the British leader, struggling to woo an increasingly disenchanted public and hold his party together as the conflict in Iraq drags on, faced rising calls for his government to be held accountable -- even from within his party. As recently as Thursday, Mr. Blair was riding high after wringing concessions from Washington on trials for Britons and Australians being held on terrorism charges. Then, as the Prime Minister travelled to Asia, Dr. Kelly's body was discovered. The British Defence Ministry microbiologist and former United Nations weapons inspector was a quiet scientist with a sterling international reputation, but he was caught up in a bitter public spat between the BBC and Mr. Blair's powerful communications director, Alastair Campbell. The BBC's disclosure yesterday was confirmation that Dr. Kelly was the source of its report accusing the Prime Minister's Office of ordering intelligence officials to "sex up" the arms reports. Many in Britain had accused BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan of having inaccurately reported his comments. But the scientist was placed directly and uncomfortably in the public eye when his name was leaked, and he was pushed before a parliamentary committee. Labour MP Glenda Jackson, a former transport minister, demanded yesterday that Mr. Blair resign -- along with Mr. Campbell, whom the BBC accused of spearheading the campaign to torque the intelligence reports, and Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon, who has been accused of leaking Dr. Kelly's name to the news media to distract reporters from that controversy. "This tragic human disaster came as a result of the artificial warthat had been quite deliberately created by No. 10 [Downing Street, the Prime Minister's official residence]," she told the BBC's Breakfast With Frost. "We have seen a highly respected, innocent, devoted public servant being sacrificed as a result of a quite deliberate political strategy to afford a smoke screen, as someone has called it, for the government." Tory Opposition Leader Iain Duncan Smith and Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy called on the Prime Minister to cut short his trip and recall Parliament, indicating that they believe he is seriously wounded. Mr. Blair rejected those suggestions, promising to be accountable if a government judicial inquiry determines his officials acted inappropriately. "In the end, the government is my responsibility. I can assure you the judge will be able to get to what facts, what people, what papers he wants." He was less composed on Saturday, when he faced determined questioning from British journalists in Japan. During a news conference, one reporter shouted: "Have you got blood on your hands, Prime Minister? Are you going to resign over this?" The Prime Minister appeared stunned by the question. Mr. Blair battles growing criticism over lack of evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a key justification he used to build a case for war to a reluctant public and Parliament. If no evidence turns up before the Labour Party holds its annual conference in late September, the Prime Minister could face open revolt, political heavyweights said. "The party will plunge into deeper turmoil than ever," a senior Labour parliamentarian told Reuters News Agency. "A prime minister without a party will not be prime minister for long." The judicial inquiry into Dr. Kelly's death, led by senior judge Lord Hutton, could land the final blow if it criticizes government officials when it reports in September. "I'm sure when Lord Hutton comes to give his conclusions . . . everybody who might be affected by those judgments has to reflect hard and long on their positions," Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said. Crisis chronology Britain's dossier scandal: Sept. 24, 2002: Britain publishes a dossier on Iraq's weapons program that claims Iraqi president Saddam Hussein could launch a weapon of mass destruction on 45 minutes notice. Feb. 7, 2003: British officials concede that sections of another dossier on Iraq's security services, published on a government Web site, were lifted from a student thesis. The dossier was compiled by Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief, Alastair Campbell, and was not approved by intelligence staff. Mr. Campbell promises the secret service that he will take more care in presenting such material to the public. May 29, 2003: The British Broadcasting Corp. cites an anonymous intelligence source saying that Mr. Campbell inserted the 45-minute claim into the dossier, sparking a battle between the government and the public broadcaster. Mr. Campbell denies that he "sexed up" the dossier to persuade reluctant legislators to back the war and demands the BBC apologize. It refuses. July 7: A parliamentary committee concludes that Mr. Campbell did not play a role in including the 45-minutes claim. But it criticizes the dossier in other respects, and the BBC says the report justifies its decision to air the original charge. July 8: The White House says that a claim in U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union address, which cited the British government, was based on forged documents. But the British government says that its information, included in the dossier, came from other sources. July 15: Former United Nations weapons inspector David Kelly tells parliamentarians that he could not have been the main source of the BBC story, as suggested by the government, because the story does not match his statements to BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan. July 18: British police find the body of a man that matches Dr. Kelly's description. The next day, police reveal that the scientist died of a slit wrist, leaving little doubt he had taken his own life. [Really?? Can a man's wrist not be cut by another?] July 20: The BBC confirms that Dr. Kelly was the source for the report claiming that the government exaggerated its intelligence about Iraqi weapons. Mr. Blair rejects calls for his resignation. (c) 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc ### __________________________________________________________ --------- End forwarded message ---------- ________________________________________________________________ The best thing to hit the internet in years - Juno SpeedBand! Surf the web up to FIVE TIMES FASTER! Only $14.95/ month - visit www.juno.com to sign up today! _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk