Skip to comments.DAVID KELLY GOES AWOL
Posted on 07/18/2003 1:34:00 AM PDT by Big Bad Bob
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David Kelly, the government adviser named as the possible source for the BBC's report claiming the government "sexed up" a key intelligence dossier on Iraq, has been reported missing by his family.
The 59-year-old went missing from his home in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, at 3pm yesterday afternoon after telling his wife he was going for a walk, according to Thames Valley Police.
His family contacted police when he had failed to return by 11.45pm yesterday, four days after he gave evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the affair.
"We have launched a major search operation. We are very concerned for his wellbeing and are searching all the possible areas where he may be. His family have said this is completely out of character," a spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police told Sky News.
Dr Kelly, who volunteered to give evidence to the foreign affairs select committee, admitted to MPs last week he had met the BBC defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, on three occasions since September 2002.
With two defence ministry police sitting behind him, Dr Kelly confirmed he met Gilligan in a central London hotel on the same day that the reporter said he met his sole source at a central London hotel.
But Dr Kelly said he did not believe he could be the primary source of the report at the centre of a bitter row between the BBC and No 10.
"I believe I am not the main source. From the conversation I had with him I don't see how he could make the authoritative statements he was making from the comments that I made," Dr Kelly said.
Committee members were critical of the government's handling of Dr Kelly, saying he had been the "fall guy" and had been "poorly treated" by the defence minister.
However, the Ministry of Defence has stood by its claims that Dr Kelly was the sole source of the story, pointing to Gilligan's evidence that he had relied on one source and that three other sources mentioned had not discussed the September dossier or had done so only later.
Dr Kelly has been under enormous pressure since he admitted making contact with Gilligan. He was officially reprimanded for having an "unauthorised" meeting with a journalist, and recently complained that his home was surrounded by journalists.
Conservative MP Richard Ottaway, a member of the foreign affairs committee, said Dr Kelly had recently alluded to the level of pressure he was under.
"At the meeting last week he did hint at the sort of pressure he was under," Mr Ottaway said. "He was asked to provide some evidence and he replied that he would do so but he could not get into his house because of the media pressure."
The chairman of the committee, Donald Anderson, said he was "shocked" by the news of Dr Kelly's disappearance.
"When he appeared before the committee, yes, he was softly spoken, but he seemed to be pretty relaxed and the committee was not at all aggressive or hostile in our questioning of him," he told Sky News.
Dr Kelly was described by police as an avid walker with good local knowledge of the many footpaths surrounding his home, which is near the river Thames.
Police said it was not unusual for him to walk for two or three hours at a time, but unusual for him to do this alone.
Thames Valley Police has scheduled a news conference on Dr Kelly's disappearance for 10.30am this morning.
Cheif Inspector Morse: Lewiiis..
Police searching for Kelly find body
18/07/2003 - 11:00:29
Police searching for official Iraqi arms adviser Dr David Kelly have found the body of a man.
Dr Kelly, 59, was named as the possible "mole" for a BBC report claiming the British government "sexed up" its dossier on weapons of mass destruction.
Dr Kelly went missing from his home in Oxfordshire at 3pm yesterday after saying he was going for a walk.
The unidentified man's body was found nearby, Thames Valley Police said.
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