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Kelly buried, but row continues

Longworth (England), Aug. 6 (Reuters): An expert on Iraqi weapons whose suicide has put British leader Tony Blair in the worst crisis of his six-year rule was buried today at a country church near woodland where his body was found.

While friends and family attended the funeral at the picturesque 13th century St Mary’s Church a few kilometres from David Kelly’s house, there was little let-up in the row over his death convulsing British politics and media. Government critics demanded the resignation of a Blair spokesman who caused outrage earlier in the week by comparing Kelly with fictional fantasist Walter Mitty.

The scientist was the anonymous source for a damning BBC report alleging London hyped Saddam Hussein’s weapons capacity. “It is bitterly ironic that a government that saw fit to employ Dr Kelly at the highest level, which trumpeted his expertise and praised his work for the UN, should now turn on him so monstrously,” Prof. Alastair Hay, a colleague of Kelly’s, wrote in a newspaper article.

“And for Dr Kelly’s circle, the agony must be all the greater because the aftermath of his departure is being played out on a public stage, with controversy raging all around.”

At the funeral in Longworth, a village in the central county of Oxfordshire, mourners carried Kelly’s body into the church as a single bell tolled and police kept onlookers away. “We are here because of the tragedy that has taken place. We are not here for the media or to make a political statement or to apportion blame,” vicar Roy Woodhams told the 160 mourners.

The former UN arms inspector and government scientist was found dead on July 18 after becoming embroiled in the vicious political row over Blair’s case for war in Iraq.

Kelly, 59, had endured growing pressure since his off-the-record briefing to the BBC led to a May 29 report saying the government had hyped up intelligence that warned that Saddam could deploy weapons within 45 minutes.

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