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Press rounds on Blair government

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his press secretary Alastair Campbell are the subject of intense criticism in the British press following the death of scientist David Kelly.

In its headline, the Daily Mail newspaper asks: "Proud of yourselves?" over pictures of Campbell, Blair and UK Defense secretary Geoff Hoon.

"All face questions about the way the mild-mannered germ warfare expert was thrust into the maelstrom of the Iraqi arms affair," the paper says.

A front page editorial continues: "Yesterday a decent, shy civil servant who had been savagely chewed up and spat out by a malign amoral Downing Street machine met a tormented and tragic end."

The Daily Mirror newspaper has the headline: "Spun to death."

In its editorial, the newspaper asks: "Who will go?" and demands "no mercy for hounds who mauled Kelly.

"He was dragged into the most bitter and vicious political row anyone can remember. And he was innocent in every way," it says.

"Powerful men lined up to scapeboat Dr. Kelly as part of their no-holds-barred campaign to clear the government of charges of faking dossiers before the Iraq war."

The Times newspaper uses the headline: "David Kelly, victim of another war?"

And under the headline "Rough ride for Blair at 35,000 ft, the newspaper says: "The jolt that Tony Blair received 35,000ft above the Pacific Ocean was not normal turbulence."

The Telegraph newspaper has the headline "Death of the dossier fall guy," and says Blair has been plunged into "the biggest crisis of his premiership."

"Hounded and unhappy, he walked out to a lonely death in the woods," the paper says. It also points to the "mystery of the eight missing hours before the body was found."

And in his analysis, the paper's political editor George Jones says: "If the trail leads back to Downing Street, not just Mr. Campbell's job will be on the line. Mr. Blair's poisition could be called into question."

The Independent has the headline: "The death of a civil servant, a casualty of war."

"The truth can be darker than fiction," it says in an editorial. "The debate should never have been personalised in this way or at this level.

"Who said what to which journalist should never have been allowed to take precedence over the truth of the facts marshalled in the prime minister's name to make the case for sending British forces into combat."

Under a headline "Tragedy jolts Blair back to political reality," The Financial Times newspaper says: "A few hours into British Airways flight 9127C, an electrical storm rocked the Boeing 777 carrying Tony Blair towards Tokyo, knocking seasoned stewardesses off balance."

The Guardian calls Kelly "The vendetta's victim" and says "one of Alastair Campbell's colleagues yesterday described the Iraq war row over the last seven weeks as being like 'a dark novel.'"

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