The pressure built yesterday on British Prime Minister Tony Blair as questions piled up over his actions before the apparent suicide of an arms expert at the center of allegations that the government embellished the case for war in Iraq.
Just five days before Blair was due to testify, the independent judicial inquiry into arms expert David Kelly's death published Saturday thousands of pages of private e-mails and memoranda from, among others, the prime minister's closest aides.
The 9,000 pages of documentation shed new light on Blair's role in the affair, suggesting that he was involved in naming Kelly as the source of BBC allegations that the government "sexed up" a dossier on Iraqi weapons.
A confidential note of a series of meetings held in the prime minister's office revealed that Blair supported "making public that a source had come forward," but left the specifics of the "naming strategy" to the defense ministry.
Evidence published by the inquiry -- led by senior judge Brian Hutton -- showed that Blair wanted Kelly to be properly briefed on what to say before he was made to appear in public before a parliamentary committee.
If further proof were needed of the depth of the crisis facing Blair, an ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed that 67 percent of those polled felt they had been deceived by him over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. A third said the prime minister should quit.
Kelly, a government expert on biological weapons and a former UN arms inspector in Iraq, was found dead with a slit wrist on July 18, three days after being publicly grilled by lawmakers over whether he was the BBC's source.
Kelly also testified privately before a second parliamentary inquiry.
"Tried PM [Blair] out on Kelly [appearing] before" the parliamentary committees, said an e-mail released Saturday from Downing Street chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell, one of Blair's top aides.
"He [Blair] thought he [Kelly] probably had to do both but need to be properly prepared beforehand," said the e-mail, which was dated July 10.
Blair will give evidence before the inquiry on Thursday, the day after Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon -- Kelly's ultimate boss -- who came out of the ICM poll worst with 52 percent saying he should stand down.
During the first two weeks the inquiry heard that Hoon had overruled misgivings from his most senior civil servant to order Kelly to face the public examination.
BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan alleged in a report on June 1 that Blair's office was responsible for inserting a headline claim that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes into a government dossier published in September last year.
In a letter to his defense ministry boss Bryan Wells, published Saturday, Kelly said that he had told Gilligan the sensational 45-minute claim was probably included in the dossier for "impact."
"I made no allegations or accusations about any issue related to the dossier or the government's case for war," said the letter from Kelly, who had always maintained he was not Gilligan's source.
In another memorandum of a Downing Street meeting, Campbell urges Blair to be "calm" when questioned by lawmakers about the BBC allegations, while at the same time advising the prime minister to take a "more combative" approach when talking about the general Iraq issue in the House of Commons.
The documents show that Blair's office exchanged a flurry of e-mails with the defense ministry as the government debated whether and how to announce that Kelly had admitted contacts with Gilligan.
Blair, US President George W. Bush's main ally on Iraq, committed over 40,000 British troops to the war after two intelligence dossiers helped to convince a sceptical parliament to back military action.