- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 23, 2003


LONDON — More than two-thirds of Britain’s voters believe, from what they have heard so far in the inquiry into the death of weapons expert David Kelly, that they were deceived by the government about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, a poll shows.

The findings of an ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph are a severe blow to Prime Minister Tony Blair four days before he is due to appear before the inquiry led by Judge Brian Hutton. The poll also shows that 56 percent of voters blame the government for Mr. Kelly’s suicide, although 40 percent believe the weapons scientist bore responsibility for his own death.

The poll shows that 58 percent of all voters have less trust in the prime minister as a direct consequence of the Kelly inquiry: 52 percent of Labor Party voters said they have now lost trust in Mr. Blair.

More than half of those polled said Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon should resign as a result of Mr. Kelly’s death, and 50 percent said Alastair Campbell, Mr. Blair’s director of communications and strategy, should go.

Documents released yesterday by the inquiry increased the pressure on Mr. Blair and Mr. Hoon.

They reveal that Mr. Kelly faced arrest earlier this year. One series of e-mails show Ministry of Defense officials discussing a request from the Metropolitan Police to interview Mr. Kelly about a leaked document to Andrew Gilligan, a British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent, in March about the lack of known al Qaeda links to Iraq.

Mr. Blair can take some comfort from the poll. In spite of their clear conviction that they were misled about the existence of weapons of mass destruction, a majority — 54 percent — still believe it was right to go to war to remove Saddam.

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