British Weapons Adviser Reported Missing
By MICHAEL McDONOUGH
LONDON (AP) - A Ministry of Defense adviser, named by the government as the possible source for a disputed news report on Iraqi arms, has been reported missing by his family, police said Friday.
Police searching for David Kelly said Friday they have found a male body about 5 miles from his home in in Oxfordshire, central England. But detectives have not yet identified the body, a spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police
Kelly's family reported him missing late Thursday after he failed to return to home from an afternoon walk.
``This is clearly a sensitive inquiry,'' David Purnell of Thames Valley Police spokesman told a press conference. ``At the moment ... a body has been found. There is no more further information as to the identity of that person, those inquiries are ongoing.''
Kelly, 59, appeared before a Parliamentary committee earlier this week to face questions over a British Broadcasting Corp. report that government aides doctored intelligence on Iraqi weapons to strengthen the case for war.
The government, which denies the claims, has asked the BBC to say whether Kelly was the unidentified official cited in the story, but the network has refused.
The BBC report fueled a political storm over the handling of weapons intelligence by Prime Minister Tony Blair's office, helping prompt two Parliamentary probes into the issue.
The report said government aides gave undue prominence, in an intelligence dossier published last September, to a claim that Iraq could launch chemical or biological weapons on 45 minutes' notice.
The Foreign Affairs Committee cleared Blair's communications chief, Alastair Campbell, of allegations he tried to build up the September dossier by inserting the claim.
Kelly, a former U.N. weapons inspector, told the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee he had spoken to BBC defense correspondent Andrew Gilligan, but didn't believe he was the source for the reporter's story. He denied making the claims included in Gilligan's report.
``The committee felt pretty confident that he (Kelly) was not in fact the source,'' the committee's chairman, Labor Party lawmaker Donald Anderson, told BBC television on Friday.
Officers said Kelly's failure to make contact with anyone was described by his family as ``out of character.''
Initial searches of his house and its outbuildings and grounds were completed early Friday.
``We are concerned for Dr. Kelly's welfare and need to hear from anyone who recalls seeing a man of this description in the area since yesterday afternoon,'' said Acting Superintendent Dave Purnell of Abingdon police.
Anderson said Kelly had appeared ``rather relaxed'' when he testified to the committee Tuesday and seemed to be ``on top of things.''
Conservative committee member Richard Ottaway said Kelly had suggested he was under great strain.
``At the meeting last week he did hint at the sort of pressure he was under,'' Ottaway said. ``He was asked to provide some evidence and he replied that he would do so but he could not get into his house because of the media press