In July of 2003, four months after the fall of Baghdad, David Kelly walked a mile from his Oxfordshire home to a wooded area called Harrowdown Hill, and stabbed a pruning knife into his left wrist, severing a major artery. He was found dead the next morning.
On Wednesday, a long-anticipated report on the decisions that brought a ‘coalition of the willing’ to war in Iraq was released, and laid waste to the intelligence relied upon by the United Kingdom and the United States to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.
In doing so, the Iraq War Inquiry, led by Sir John Chilcot, offered vindication for Kelly — the scientist who first went to the media, highlighting that the claims made by the British government about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction were at best misleading and at worst lies.
Kelly, a biological warfare expert, had been provided a copy of a classified dossier, written by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and released in September of 2002. The report was to be released to the public in order to make the case for war in Iraq and, more importantly for then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to sway Parliament to approve the deployment of British troops.
“The document discloses that [Saddam’s] military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them,” wrote Blair in the foreword to the JIC dossier.
Chilcot’s inquiry sheds new light on how Kelly tried to blow the whistle from inside the British government, and how his warnings ultimately went unheeded.
The executive summary of the report damningly concludes what Kelly had said at the time: “The assessed intelligence had not established beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons.”