LONDON - David Kelly felt betrayed at the decision of his Defense Ministry bosses to make his name public as the source of a BBC report saying the government had inflated the case for war against Iraq, his widow testified yesterday at the inquiry investigating his suicide.
"He said several times over coffee, over lunch, over afternoon tea that he felt totally let down and betrayed," Janice Kelly, 58, said of her husband, a former United Nations arms inspector in Iraq who served the Defense Ministry as an expert on unconventional weapons.
"He had been led to believe that his name would not come into the public domain from his line manager, from all his seniors," she said. "He was so very upset about it."
On the day he left their Oxfordshire home for the last time to take a walk, he looked "distracted and dejected," she said.
"He couldn't put two sentences together, he couldn't talk at all," she said. "I just thought he had a broken heart, he had shrunk into himself, just shrunk, but I had no idea at that stage of what he might do later."
The body of Kelly, 59, was found the next day, July 18, on a hiking path five miles away, with his left wrist slashed and a knife and an open package of painkillers by his side.
Janice Kelly identified the knife yesterday as one he had owned since his Boy Scout days. She said the pills were ones she took for rheumatism.
Kelley's death and the questions raised about whether the British were misled on the reasons for going to war have plunged the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair into its most daunting crisis in its six years in power.
Within hours of the discovery of the body, Blair called for an independent inquiry led by Lord Hutton, a senior British judge, with the mission of finding out whether the government's treatment of Kelly contributed to his death.
The hearings, now beginning their fourth week, have broadened their focus to examine the whole government information campaign before the war and have suggested that the government exaggerated intelligence assessments of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons.
But yesterday's session returned to the original purpose of examining what happened to Kelly after he told his managers privately in late June that he might be the source of a damning BBC report that Blair's aides were furiously denying.
The witnesses, including Kelly's wife, one of his twin daughters, Rachel Kelly, 30, and his sister, Sarah Pape, testified by videolink from an undisclosed location.
Kelly became involved after informing his managers that he had met with the BBC reporter who aired the disputed report. But Kelly said he had not made the accusations of the government's deliberately mixing false claims into its intelligence dossier.
Seeing a chance to discredit the story, the Ministry of Defense made his name public, and he ended up undergoing bruising questioning from the House of Commons foreign affairs committee in a televised hearing. Two days later, he died.