Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Exposure Led to Kelly's Suicide

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Exposure Led to Kelly's Suicide

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jane Merrick

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon were facing serious questions last night after the country's leading suicide expert concluded that weapons expert David Kelly took his own life because he felt he had been "publicly disgraced".

Professor Keith Hawton, director for suicide research at Oxford University, said the Ministry of Defence's outing of Dr Kelly and his subsequent public grilling by the Foreign Affairs Committee were "anathema" to an intensely private man.

Loss of self-esteem as a result of his dismay at being exposed to the media contributed to the scientist's suicide, Prof Hawton concluded.

His evidence to the Hutton Inquiry put the spotlight back on the prime minister, defence secretary and top Government officials who had a role in Dr Kelly being unmasked as the source of the BBC report that No 10's Iraq dossier had been "sexed up".

The psychiatrist's testimony went to the very heart of the inquiry into why Dr Kelly took his own life in dense woodland near his home on July 17.

Asked what factors he believed had contributed to Dr Kelly's suicide, Prof Hawton said: "As far as one can deduce, the major factor was the severe loss of self-esteem, resulting from his feeling that people had lost trust in him and from his dismay at being exposed to the media.

"He talked a lot about it and I think, being such a private man, I think this was an anathema to him to be exposed publicly in this way and in a sense he would have seen it as being publicly disgraced."

Prof Hawton said that the way the MoD and No 10 handled the affair had added further pressure.

He said Dr Kelly being described as a "middle-ranking official" by the Government was "very upsetting for him".

In his evidence to the inquiry last week, Mr Blair put himself at the centre of the naming strategy by revealing that he had told BBC chairman Gavyn Davies in private on July 7 that an official had come forward to admit he had met journalist Andrew Gilligan. …

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