The nub of the Kelly story
Politics, so the cliche goes, is a rough business, and so it is. But rarely do we get such a detailed glimpse of how political and ideological expediency rides roughshod over human beings as is emerging from the Hutton inquiry. Yesterday, Dr. David Kelly’s widow and daughter gave evidence on how he was left twisting in the wind by the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister’s office. Nobody comes out of this looking good — including the media, though some organs (especially Murdoch’s Sunday Times) behaved especially disgracefully. Here’s how the Guardian summed it up this morning in a Leader:
“Though Mrs Kelly’s evidence was at all times calm and restrained, there were here and there explosive words such as betrayal: his betrayal – his own word – at the hands of superiors who were ready to feed his name to the press, who failed to give him support when he so needed it, who were even content, as the media pack closed in, to leave him to find his own place to hide. If the MoD (and behind them, as we now know, 10 Downing Street) were cold and neglectful, the media, descending on the Kellys’ Oxfordshire village, were predatory. Here, too, there was a betrayal, as the Sunday Times, on the basis of a fraught and hurried conversation, printed what looked like a full-scale interview, inevitably suggesting, Dr Kelly believed, that he had broken his word not to talk to the press.
The big events, such as the call to appear before select committees, one of them televised, and the small, unremarked ones tightened the pressure. Jack Straw, or so someone told Dr Kelly, had been disappointed that no one more senior could be found to accompany him when the foreign secretary met the foreign affairs select committee. Yet again, this acknowledged expert, who lived for a job to which he subordinated everything else in his life, had been demeaned and slighted – treated, he said, like a fly. ”