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Dr. David Kelly

Volume 448: debated on Monday 26 June 2006

Dr Kelly’s role in the Department, on secondment from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, was as an adviser to the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons capabilities, the work of the United Nations Commissions dealing with inspections in Iraq, and on issues relating to the chemical weapons convention and the biological and toxin weapons convention. Dr. Kelly also advised the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission on training, and communicated Iraq issues to the media and institutions. All that was set out in the Hutton report.

Dr. Kelly made an immense contribution to the security of this country and the world. As part of his work for the Department, shortly before his death he co-authored a report for the United States and the UK that was delivered to the US on 27 May 2003, and which made it clear that the so-called mobile biological weapons laboratories were nothing of the sort. However, two days later President Bush indicated,

“we have found the weapons of mass destruction”,

which Dr. Kelly flatly contradicted in public afterwards. What discussions took place between the UK and the US regarding Dr. Kelly’s public statement about that matter, and what investigations have been conducted to establish where the fake trailers masquerading as mobile laboratories came from? If the Secretary of State cannot answer now, will he please write to me?

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will be surprised that I approach the Dispatch Box to confirm that I am unable to answer a question of such a nature without having had some prior notice of it. However, what I will say is that it is my understanding that although the hon. Gentleman has publicly said, in terms, that he is about to devote one year of his life to pursuing investigations in relation to Dr. Kelly and the circumstances surrounding his death, it is not my intention, periodically or consistently, to start an investigation from the Dispatch Box. The position is that Lord Hutton investigated fully the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. Kelly and it would be entirely inappropriate for me to start picking up aspects of that case piecemeal. However, I will look carefully into the question he has asked to see if I can provide any information, despite the fact that my Department was entirely open in respect of Dr. Kelly’s role and all the evidence that it had for the Hutton report. If, contrary to my view, there is anything of assistance that I can communicate to the hon. Gentleman, I will do so.