BBC's weapons report doubtedBy Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 21, 2003
LONDON - The BBC said Sunday that Dr. David Kelly, the British weapons expert who committed suicide Thursday, was the source for a report on doctoring intelligence files that led to a running battle between the broadcaster and the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In South Korea, Blair said he will take full responsibility if an inquiry finds the government contributed to Kelly's suicide.
Blair, dogged on his trip through east Asia by angry charges about the Ministry of Defense adviser's death, said he has no intention of resigning over the dispute, as some critics at home have demanded. He also said at a news conference with South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun in Seoul that he will testify in the investigation.
He welcomed the BBC's announcement, which temporarily shifted the angriest public criticism from his administration to the broadcaster, whose credibility came under attack.
Kelly told a parliamentary committee two days before his death that he did not provide the report's central contention: that the government had "sexed up" a government intelligence dossier by incorporating a claim that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons deployable in 45 minutes.
The announcement by the BBC's director of news, Richard Sambrook, further undermined the authority of the hotly contested report in that Kelly, 59, a former U.N. weapons inspector and adviser to the Ministry of Defense, was not a senior intelligence official involved in preparing the dossier as the network had called its anonymous source.
The original report, aired May 29, was particularly damaging to the government, which is fighting charges that it manipulated intelligence information to justify the war in Iraq.
The police found Kelly's body Friday in woods 5 miles from his Oxfordshire home, his left wrist slashed and painkillers nearby.
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