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Hoon labeled a 'liar, hypocrite'

Jeremy Gompertz, left, lawyer for Kelly family, makes closing statement
Jeremy Gompertz, left, lawyer for Kelly family, makes closing statement

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LONDON, England -- David Kelly's family has labeled Britain's defense chief a liar and hypocrite and accused the government of using the weapons expert as a pawn in its battle with the BBC over Iraq.

The family's lawyer made the accusations Thursday as he presented his closing statement to the judicial inquiry into Kelly's apparent suicide.

Jeremy Gompertz said Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon had been guilty of a "cynical abuse of power" in his department's treatment of Kelly in the days leading up to his death.

"The family invite the inquiry to find that the government made a deliberate decision to use Dr. Kelly as part of its strategy in its battle with the BBC," Gompertz told the inquiry, being led by Lord Hutton.

Shortly before his death, the government confirmed to journalists that Kelly was a possible source of a BBC report claiming officials "sexed up" their dossier on Iraq's weapons.

Explicit diaries from Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief Alastair Campbell revealed the government's desire to defeat the BBC over its report by defense correspondent Andrew Gilligan.

Using an expletive, Campbell wrote in his diary that if Kelly was exposed as the BBC's source, it would "**** Gilligan."

The diary also showed that Campbell and Hoon were eager for Kelly's name to be made public. Campbell, who resigned last month for personal reasons, wrote: "GH and I both wanted to get the source up but TB (Blair) was nervous about it."

Gompertz told the inquiry Thursday that Campbell's diary exposed as "hypocrisy" Hoon's denials that he had been involved in a strategy to publicly name Kelly.

The lawyer said the diaries suggested Hoon had lied to the inquiry when he denied responsibility for naming Kelly.

"They indicate with clarity, if accepted by the inquiry, that (Hoon's) denials of the government's strategy, put to him in cross-examination, were false," Gompertz said.

"Indeed they reveal he was an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal to put Dr. Kelly's name into the public domain.

"This is totally contrary to his previous stance.

"If, as the family submit, there was a strategy to out Dr. Kelly, to use a witness to undermine Andrew Gilligan in furtherance of the government's dispute with the BBC, this was a cynical abuse of power and deserves the strongest possible condemnation."

Government lawyer Jonathan Sumption denied the charges.

"The government is not and never has been engaged in a crusade against the BBC. Nor are any of the ministers or officials," he told the inquiry in his summary.

Sumption, like Gompertz, was critical of the BBC, accusing Gilligan of inaccurately reporting what Kelly had told him.

While it was impossible to know exactly what Kelly said, "it was certainly less than Mr. Gilligan attributed to him," Sumption said.

David Kelly
Kelly felt he had been betrayed by his bosses, according to his family.

"The BBC seemed to have regarded this as a routine piece of political mudslinging," the lawyer said.

"It seems to have been thought that the BBC could shoot off its fireworks and then steal away, the dogs would bark, the caravan would move on, nobody would pay any more attention."

Lawyers for the BBC, Gilligan and the inquiry also presented their summaries Thursday as the inquiry came to a close.

In his closing remarks to the inquiry, Lord Hutton said his report may not be ready until December and possibly November at the earliest. The delay could further damage the Blair government's standing in the polls, which has taken a beating with the absence of any banned weapons being found in Iraq.

A Guardian/ICM survey opinion poll Wednesday suggests Blair's rating among British voters has fallen further. The survey compiled this week shows 61 percent of voters are unhappy with the job he is doing, with 32 percent satisfied.

The inquiry at London's Royal Courts of Justice has heard from 74 witnesses over 22 days.

His findings could have serious implications for Blair, Hoon, civil servants and the BBC. (Analysis)


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