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Kelly: made remark months before meeting Gilligan
David Kelly told a senior diplomat in February that if Iraq was invaded he would "probably be found dead in the woods", the Hutton inquiry heard today. The weapons inspector, who is believed to have committed suicide after being named as the source of a highly controversial BBC story, made the prophetic comment months before the storm over his conversation with the reporter Andrew Gilligan broke.
David Broucher, a permanent representative on the convention on UN disarmament in Geneva, told the inquiry how he met the weapons inspector earlier this year.
Mr Broucher said that at the time he had taken Dr Kelly's comment to be a throwaway remark designed to imply the Iraqis could take their revenge on him.
But he said that with hindsight he realised Dr Kelly "may have been thinking along different lines" in the light of his apparent suicide last month, when Dr Kelly was found dead in woods near his Oxfordshire home.
Mr Broucher said he had met Dr Kelly just once, in Geneva on February 27, when they discussed Iraq's compliance or non-compliance with the convention on biological weapons.
"As Dr Kelly was leaving, I said to him what will happen if Iraq is invaded," Mr Broucher told the inquiry.
"And his reply was - which I took at the time to be a throwaway remark - 'I will probably be found dead in the woods'."
Mr Broucher said he had gathered from their conversation that Dr Kelly felt he was being put in a "morally ambiguous position" because he was telling Iraqi contacts they had nothing to fear if they co-operated with UN weapons inspections.
He emailed Patrick Lamb, the deputy head of the Foreign Office's counter-proliferation unit, warning that Dr Kelly had said the Iraqis were "inveterate keepers of written files - something they have learned from us".
Telling the inquiry how he heard of Dr Kelly's death on Swiss TV, he said: "It was not until I became aware of the circumstances of his death I realised the significance of this remark that he made to me."
Mr Broucher said Dr Kelly told him he was in contact with senior Iraqis whom he had "urged" to give up any remaining biological weapons.
He continued: "He [Kelly] believed that the invasion might go ahead anyway, and this puts him in a morally ambiguous position".
Dr Kelly had told Mr Broucher that the Iraqi were unwilling to fully disarm because "if they revealed too much about their state of readiness, this might increase the risk of being attacked."
Concluding his evidence, Mr Broucher said he thought Dr Kelly had been implying the Iraqis would take revenge on him - "something that did not seem fanciful then. I now realise he may have been thinking on different lines."
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