Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kelly Convinced Me He Was Not the BBC Source, MP Tells Inquiry; COMMITTEE MP DEFENDS HIS TOUGH STANCE WITH SCIENTIST

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kelly Convinced Me He Was Not the BBC Source, MP Tells Inquiry; COMMITTEE MP DEFENDS HIS TOUGH STANCE WITH SCIENTIST

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL CHESTON

THE MP who accused Dr David Kelly of being "chaff " and "a fall guy" days before the scientist's apparent suicide today defended his remarks.

Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay told the Hutton Inquiry that Dr Kelly had convinced the foreign affairs committee in "a powerful and very persuasive" performance he had not been the primary source of reports by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan that the dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been "sexed up" by No10.

"He convinced me that he was not Gilligan's source very impressively indeed.

By this stage I'm absolutely convinced that he is not the source. I feel very angry for him and for Parliament," said Mr MacKinlay.

The committee had agreed with him, Mr MacKinlay said. He told the inquiry: "It was one of the areas where there was real consensus.We felt he was not Gilligan's principal source.

"We felt that the Government had known that, because although my colleagues do not use the term implicitly, they felt he was the fall guy. He had been set up. We were angry, my Lord," he told Lord Hutton.

But the scientist's failure to answer questions directly about which journalists he had spoken to amounted to prevarication which the MP claimed was "a high crime" against Parliament. As a result he asked forceful questions to see "if he (Dr Kelly) would give out more".

Mr MacKinlay told the inquiry that he did not think it unreasonable to suggest to Dr Kelly that the Government was using him as "chaff ".

He said: "A lot of people don't understand the word chaff which, to a weapons expert, is what is thrown out by destroyers and fighter aircraft to deflect incoming missiles," said the backbench MP.

"In the context of this, it didn't seem an inappropriate word to use as he was a weapons expert and that was the reason for that word, and no offence was meant."

Lord Hutton asked Mr MacKinlay in what sense he had referred to Dr Kelly as a "fall guy".

The MP replied: "I think that at that moment in time - I now know differently - I think the Government, collectively, was quite pleased for Dr Kelly to come up, hoping that the thing would be sort of fudged and the thing would more or less die away. …

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