Blair 'chaired Kelly naming meeting'

Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a crucial meeting which agreed how the name of weapons expert David Kelly would become public, a senior Ministry of Defence official confirmed today.

Sir Kevin Tebbit, permanent secretary at the MoD, told the Hutton Inquiry into Dr Kelly's death that the meeting agreed a "change of stance" under which officials would confirm the scientist's identity if his name was put to them by reporters.

But he denied that this amounted to a "strategy" to out Dr Kelly as the source for reports by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan on the Government's dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Sir Kevin confirmed that he had told another BBC reporter that any official giving unauthorised briefings to Mr Gilligan must be "a bit odd", but denied that this was an attempt to smear the scientist as an unreliable eccentric.

The MoD's most senior civil servant was giving evidence to Lord Hutton's inquiry in a special one-off hearing.

His scheduled recall for cross-examination last month was postponed on medical grounds.

The law lord is carrying out an inquiry into Dr Kelly's apparent suicide on July 17, and has already heard closing statements from barristers representing the key parties. He is expected to produce a report in late November or December.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now