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Body Found Near London Matches Description of Missing Bio-Weapons Expert - 2003-07-18


British police believe they may have found the body of a Defense Ministry scientist who has been a key figure in the dispute over intelligence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The man was named as the possible source of a BBC report claiming the British government exaggerated the threat from Iraq's weapons. He denied being the source, and this week, a British parliamentary committee said it was unlikely he was.

Police found the body that matches the scientist's description near his home outside of London. The biological weapons expert, David Kelly, had been missing since Thursday, two days after he faced questioning by a parliamentary committee.

The lawmakers concluded he was probably not the key source behind a BBC report that alleged that Prime Minister Tony Blair's government hyped intelligence to make the case for war against Iraq.

An opposition Conservative party member of the committee, Richard Ottaway, says the scientist's death raises more questions about the integrity of Mr. Blair's government, and specifically the way Dr. Kelly was treated.

"I thought we gave him a fair hearing, and actually we were quite sympathetic to him. What I do regret is the way that he was quite obviously used by the government and the Ministry of Defense in this situation," he said.

At the center of this controversy is the claim made by the government that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction with 45 minutes notice.