London, Aug 21 (Reuters): Iraq weapons expert David Kelly eerily predicted his death six months ago, telling a British diplomat that if Baghdad was attacked he would be found “dead in the woods”, the inquiry into his death revealed today.
The premonition was recounted at the investigation into the suicide of Kelly, sucked into the heart of a row over whether Prime Minister Tony Blair’s inner circle hyped evidence about Iraq’s weapons capability to win support for the war.
Blair is due to testify to the hearing next week and the inquiry is expected to finishing taking evidence late next month, judge Lord Hutton announced today.
Kelly, a former Iraq weapons inspector whose body was found in woodlands near his home last month, told diplomat David Broucher in February he advised Iraqi officials that if they cooperated with the inspectors “they would have nothing to fear”.
“The implication was if the invasion went ahead, that would make him a liar and he would have betrayed his contacts, some of whom might be killed as a result of his actions,” Broucher told the inquiry probing the death of the weapons expert.
Broucher said he asked Kelly what would happen if Iraq were attacked. “His reply was, which I took to be a throwaway remark: ‘I will be found dead in the woods’.”
“I thought he might have meant that he was at risk of being attacked by the Iraqis in some way,” Broucher said.
But he added that Kelly, described by one of his former bosses as a man “welded to the truth”, believed that the invasion “might go ahead anyway and that somehow this put him in a morally ambiguous position”. Less than a month after his conversation with the diplomat, US and British forces invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, saying Saddam had failed a last chance to prove he had scrapped his weapons of mass destruction programmes.
Broucher said Kelly, who was the source for a BBC reporter’s accusations that Blair’s government “sexed up” a dossier making the case for war, believed British intelligence services had come under pressure to produce compelling evidence.