THE widow of Dr David Kelly, the government scientist who committed suicide after being exposed as the source of controversial BBC claims, will decide this week whether to meet Tony Blair.
The Prime Minister wrote to Janice Kelly a fortnight ago, asking to meet her to discuss Lord Hutton’s report into her husband’s death.
But embarrassingly for Mr Blair, he has so far been denied a reply from Mrs Kelly, who is understood to be unhappy that the government escaped blame for her husband’s suicide. According to reports yesterday, friends of Mrs Kelly maintain she remains angry with the Ministry of Defence, despite a meeting with Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, designed to help ease tensions.
However, it is thought that this week Mrs Kelly will confirm the prospect of a meeting with Mr Blair is "irresistible" - although any appointment would be strictly private.
Solicitors for the Kelly family have confirmed a letter had been received from Mr Blair offering a meeting to discuss the Hutton Report.
A spokesman for the Bircham Dyson Bell firm of solicitors told the Sunday Telegraph: "I can confirm Mr Blair has sent a letter. I can say nothing about their intentions. [The family] regard it as private."
Although they have not commented in public, it became clear during the Hutton Inquiry that the Kellys were furious about the government’s determination to push Dr Kelly forward as the source of BBC claims Downing Street had "sexed up" its evidence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The scientist was identified as the source of allegations by the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, who has since quit as the defence and diplomatic correspondent of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, that No 10 had exaggerated intelligence claims the weapons could be deployed by the Iraqis in 45 minutes.
Mrs Kelly told the inquiry her husband felt "totally let down and betrayed" by the way the MoD had released his name.
She called that a "nightmare" and described how, on the day he died, he had looked "so desperate". Mrs Kelly, 58, who suffers from acute arthritis, said: "I just thought he had a broken heart. He couldn’t talk at all."
A No 10 spokesman said: "Downing Street has no intention of commenting on what is a private matter."