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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Dead Body Fits Description of Missing British Scientist

Aired July 18, 2003 - 19:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: British police are now trying to determine whether a body they found is that of an expert on biological weapons who went missing last night. David Kelly is his name, he was an adviser to the British Ministry of Defense. And it's important because the Defense Department there recently accused him of telling a reporter that the ministry exaggerated claims about Iraq's weaponry.
Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour has been following the developing story. She joins us now from London with the latest -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the latest is that the police say that a formal identification will be made on Saturday. However, they're saying that the body found near the scientist's home matches the description of the missing scientist, Dr. David Kelly. And certainly this adds a quite sinister new twist into the massive controversy that's been raging for weeks now over the British government and now the American government's rationale for war and those elusive weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Kelly had been dragged into a poisonous political battle here in England between the government and the BBC over the intelligence used to justify the war, and whether or not it had been doctored.

The government basically leaked that Dr. Kelly may have been the source for the BBC's report that, quote, "the intelligence was sexed up." In other words, fabricated, hyped, in order to justify the war. Dr. Kelly had been dragged before a parliamentary committee just earlier this week, and his wife had said that he had been extremely distressed and stressed by the grilling he got in front of the parliamentary committee. When they were asking him whether he was the source, he has denied it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your own opinion, do you believe that you were the main source for Mr. Gilligan's article on the 1st of June?

DAVID KELLY, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: My belief is that I'm not the main source.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I reckon (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you've been thrown up to divert our probing. Ever felt like a fall guy? I mean, you've been set up, haven't you?

KELLY: That's not a question that I can answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you feel that?

KELLY: No. I accept the process that's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Now, as you can see from that excerpt, the Tuesday grilling of Dr. Kelly really produced somebody who seemed to be visibly uncomfortable in his seat. He was a mild mannered scientist who is not used to the kind of public attention that he had been getting over the last several days, certainly, and particularly in front of Parliament.

There have been now voices from Parliament saying that he had been treated abominably, appallingly by the parliamentary committee. Some are blaming the BBC for not coming out and saying whether or not Dr. Kelly was the source or not. Others are blaming the government for putting too much pressure on him.

The story, as I say, is the latest and more sinister twist now in an ongoing controversy that has dogged the British prime minister and that has caused his ratings to plummet, and now the prime minister, who had been told about this death, en route from the United States where he addressed Congress last night, to Asia, where he is on a trip right now.

He was said to be very distressed and has ordered an immediate independent judicial inquiry, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Christiane Amanpour, thanks for the update. We will await word on whether or not the body is that, in fact, of this scientist. Thanks very much, Christiane.

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