The politics of personal destruction at No. 10 Downing Street -- Dr. David Kelly tells the BBC about distorted Iraq intelligence, is hounded to his death, and then is implicitly portrayed as a concocter of tales mere days afterward:
Downing St accused of new low after 'Walter Mitty' smear of Kelly
John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, ordered ministers and officials to show respect and decency towards the family of David Kelly last night after a Whitehall source described him as a "Walter Mitty" character.
Downing Street engaged in a frantic damage-limitation exercise as colleagues of Dr Kelly accused the Government of sinking to a new low so close to his funeral tomorrow, and said his family was hurt and appalled at the attempt to portray him as a fantasist....
Yesterday the Blair government denied that it had been the source of the slur:
...the prime minister's official spokesman this morning insisted that the attack had not come from the prime minister or anyone in his office.
He said: "I don't know where this comment has come from, but we do want to make it absolutely clear that nobody with either the prime minister's or anybody else in Downing Street's approval would say such a thing...."
But now, Tom Kelly, Tony Blair's official spokesman (and no relation to Dr. David Kelly), has admitted making the Walter Mitty comment and has apologized.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman Tom Kelly apologised today for describing the dead Iraqi weapons expert Dr David Kelly as a "Walter Mitty character."...
Mr Kelly denied trying to discredit the former weapons inspector but admitted the briefing was a "mistake".
He said in a statement issued by Number 10: "I, therefore, unreservedly apologise to Dr Kelly's widow and her family for having intruded on their grief."
Let's give Glenda Jackson (the former actress and Labour MP) the last word on this tawdriness:
"No 10's capacity to disgust us would seem positively boundless," the Labour MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"We are in a situation where a man has lost its life, his family has been deprived of a husband and father and it would seem that No 10 is determined to take away his reputation. They are unspeakable.
"That this kind of smear tactics should be coming out of No 10 at this time is beneath contempt...."