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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Missing Scientist in London

Aired July 18, 2003 - 07:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get back to this breaking story right now to London, police searching for a scientist there who went missing yesterday afternoon, found a body a few miles from his home earlier today. This is David Kelly, the British scientist named by the government as a possible source for a damaging BBC report about the intelligence dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
More on this story now -- again, still developing -- live in London and Jim Boulden.

What do we know -- Jim? Good afternoon there.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bill, let me tell you who David Kelly is. He is a very soft-spoken bioterrorism expert, a former U.N. weapons inspector, and he was working for the Ministry of Defense.

Now, he briefed several journalists over the last six to eight months about his knowledge of any weapons that might have been in Iraq. Unfortunately, the government said that he shouldn't have been doing that, and the Ministry of Defense, his employer, has raked him over the coals for actually briefing journalists. And this week he went before a parliamentary committee where, some people say, he was harassed and bullied for his information. And others said he's been made a scapegoat by the government for this damaging information.

Now, what happened is that somebody says that the BBC -- said to the BBC that the government sexed up their dossier in order to go to war; somebody made claims that Iraq could use its weapons within 45 minutes. And this committee has been trying to find out who leaked that information, who made that damaging claim, because the government, of course, says they did not sex up this dossier.

So, Mr. Kelly, who is not a politician, is not used to the limelight, very soft-spoken, when he met before the committee on Tuesday he was asked several times to raise his voice. He looked clearly uncomfortable answering any questions. He's an analyst. He's an historical analyst on bioterrorism weapons. He never expected to be before a committee.

And, of course, now, he's been missing. He walked away from his home yesterday. His wife said last night that he had gone missing. And unfortunately, a body has been found, though the police are not saying at this moment that it is in fact his body -- Bill.

HEMMER: Jim, for our viewers, on the screen they have this phrase they're looking at -- "the dodgy dossier." Make the connection that a lot of people are going to hear about throughout the day on this story.

BOULDEN: Tony Blair made two speeches to the parliament, one in September and one in February. In both of these dossiers he made very clear claims about weapons of mass destruction and also about uranium being bought from Niger. Now, of course, the uranium being bought from Niger is a clam that we now know it was dodgy, it was wrong, and he's admitted that.

They also used information off of the Internet, off of somebody's thesis, a doctoral thesis that somebody took off the Internet and put into a speech. The government now, of course, has walked away from that information as well. That's the dodgy dossier in February.

In September, this claim that weapons could be used within 45 minutes, this is what is dodging the government here, this is what is dogging the government here and this is what has made Tony Blair a lightning rod. And, of course, now David Kelly, who was the person put up before parliament, is possibly the scapegoat -- Bill.

HEMMER: Jim Boulden again in London.

We should point out that Kelly was reported missing yesterday afternoon around 3:00 London time. No connection to the body right now that's been discovered several miles from his home. Police are working for a confirmation on that, and when we get it, you'll get it first here.

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