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Blair to face Kelly death inquiry

Hutton: Discussed inquiry with Kelly's widow in a visit to her home
Hutton: Discussed inquiry with Kelly's widow in a visit to her home

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The judge investigating the apparent suicide of British weapons expert David Kelly says he will call UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and the British Broadcasting Corporation to testify.

Opening the inquiry on Friday, Leading UK judge Lord Hutton explained how he would conduct the inquiry into what Hutton described as the "very tragic death" of the scientist.

Hutton also vowed that the row between the government and the BBC would not cloud the probe.

No dates have been set for Blair to front the inquiry but the investigation is set to continue on August 11.

One of questions Hutton will ask is who leaked Kelly's name as the "mole" in the argument between the public broadcaster and the government over a dossier on alleged Iraqi banned weapons and the intelligence case for war.

As Hutton outlined the remit of his official judiciary inquiry -- being held at the Royal Courts of Justice, London -- he stressed the inquiry will be conducted by him "and not at all by conflicting parties."

Cross-examination will be allowed but only if it is "helpful to the forwarding of the inquiry but no further," he added.

But opposition Conservative member of Parliament Richard Ottaway said a wider inquiry into the government's case for war against Iraq was still needed.

"As far as the tragic suicide of Dr. Kelly is concerned this is as good as it is going to get and, I think, will be adequate," he told Sky News.

Ottaway, who sits on a parliamentary committee that took evidence from Kelly about intelligence on Iraq, added: "We still in the Conservative Party believe there should be an independent judicial inquiry looking at the entire case for war."

The full inquiry will not begin until after next Wednesday's private funeral of the 59-year-old government scientist who was found dead in a field in Oxfordshire, west of London, with a slit wrist on July 18. Police said he had committed suicide. (Kelly funeral)

Kelly
The judicial inquiry over Kelly's death will begin in proper after the funeral.

The hearing will be held in two stages. At some point he will interview Kelly's widow and one of his daughters, as well as friends and colleagues to get a clearer picture of the scientist's state of mind before his death.

Hunt revealed that the coroner had said four electro-cardiogram pads had been discovered on the scientist's body.

Kelly had a significant degree of coronary artery disease and that this may have played some small part in the speed of death but not a major cause of death, he added.

Hutton said he proposed to ask first a witness from a government department "to give evidence of Dr. Kelly's expertise on chemical and biological warfare and of his employment in the government and of his knowledge of the September dossier (on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction) and of any part he played in the preparation of that dossier."

Former U.N. weapons inspector Kelly -- one of the world's foremost experts on bioterrorism -- found himself at the center of the biggest political crisis for Blair's government in its six-year rule after he gave an off-the-record briefing to the BBC in May.

The broadcaster used Kelly as its main anonymous source for a report that the Blair government had "sexed up" the case for war in Iraq by giving undue prominence to intelligence that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons within 45 minutes of the order being given.

Kelly went before a parliamentary inquiry after being outed as the possible BBC source. His name was confirmed by the UK defense ministry after a number of names were put to its press office by journalists from three newspapers, and later by the BBC following the scientist's death.

The two men under pressure from the British press after Kelly's death have been Hoon -- whose department gave the name -- and Blair's communications director, Alastair Campbell. (Pressure on Hoon)

CNN's European Political Editor Robin Oakley says: "Lawmakers say that if the Hutton inquiry finds the government guilty of sharp practice in helping the media identify Dr. Kelly, then the beleaguered Hoon may have to fall on his sword."

The Hutton hearings, although held in public, will not be televised. Broadcasters Sky News and ITN are contesting that ruling. He said he proposed to sit again on Monday, August 11.

-- CNN's Jim Boulden and European Political Editor Robin Oakley contributed to this report


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