LONDON — The inquiry into the death of Government scientist David Kelly, the source of a BBC news report that accused the government of exaggerating intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to justify the war, begins today. Intelligence officials and BBC journalists who spoke to Kelly in the weeks before his suicide last month will give evidence to the inquiry, lead by Judge James Edward Hutton.
Andrew Gilligan, the BBC defense correspondent whose report on Radio 4’s “Today” accused the government of hyping the intelligence dossier, is scheduled to give evidence on Tuesday along with Susan Watts, a journalist for BBC2’s “Newsnight,” who taped her conversations with Kelly.
BBC1’s “News at 10” reporter Gavin Hewitt, who rang Kelly in an attempt to substantiate Gilligan’s story, and head of BBC News Richard Sambrook will give evidence on Wednesday.
Brian Wells, director of the Ministry of Defense’s counter-proliferation and arms control secretariat where Kelly worked, and John Williams, press secretary at the Foreign Office will follow them on Thursday. They are likely to be asked about Kelly’s contacts with the media.
Williams’ appearance will set the stage for Hutton’s next line of inquiry into how Kelly was unmasked as the BBC source.
Hutton will call Prime Minister Tony Blair, defense secretary Geoff Hoon and Blair’s communications chief Alastair Campbell as witnesses.