Sat, Jul 19, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Key scientist in UK dispute over Iraq's WMD found dead

DPA , LONDON

British police found a body yesterday near where a microbiologist and expert on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, named by the government as the likely source of a security leak, went missing.

A police spokeswoman said although the body had not been formally identified it "matches the description given of Dr David Kelly".

Formal identification would only be made today, the spokeswoman said.

The news prompted immediate speculation that parliament would be recalled from its summer recess to deal with a growing crisis over the credibility of intelligence on the threat of Iraq's WMD and thus Britain's justification for going to war.

Kelly, 59, underwent questioning Tuesday by the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, which is probing allegations that Prime Minister Tony Blair's office "sexed up" intelligence on Iraq's WMD in order to justify the war.

He went missing on Thursday afternoon and the body was found yesterday morning at Harrowdown Hill, close to Kelly's home in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Last week the Ministry of Defence named Kelly as the likely source for a report by the BBC that Blair's office had applied pressure to intelligence officers compiling a dossier on Iraq's WMD.

The public broadcaster, citing a senior unnamed intelligence source, reported May 29 that Blair's communications director Alastair Campbell insisted a claim that Saddam Hussein could launch WMD within 45 minutes be inserted in the dossier.

The dossier had been published in September and has formed a main pillar of the government's public case for war.

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