LONDON – A body found Friday in central England has been tentatively identified as a missing Ministry of Defense adviser suspected as the source of allegations that the government doctored a report about Iraq's nuclear program.
David Kelly's (search) family reported him missing late Thursday when he didn't return to his home in Southmoor, about 20 miles southwest of Oxford, from an afternoon walk.
The body, found by police in a wooded area about five miles from Kelly's home, was to be identified Saturday, said Acting Superintendent David Purnell of Thames Valley Police. The cause of death was yet unknown.
"But what I can say is that the description of the man found ... matches the description of Dr. David Kelly," Purnell told reporters.
In Tokyo, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said an independent judicial inquiry was expected. "The Ministry of Defense should be making an announcement this afternoon in terms of the name of the judge and how he will conduct the inquiry," Blair's spokesman said.
"The government would cooperate fully and he would have access to any papers that he wants and to any people he wishes to speak to," the spokesman said.
Kelly, a 59-year-old former U.N. weapons inspector, was at the center of a political storm over allegations that Blair's office altered intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons programs to support the decision to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The government denies the claim.
The Ministry of Defense said Kelly may have been the source for a British Broadcasting Corp. (search) report that Blair aides gave undue prominence to a claim that Iraq could launch chemical or biological weapons on 45 minutes' notice.
The ministry said Friday that Kelly was told he had violated civil service rules by having unauthorized contact with a journalist, but "that was the end of it." It said Kelly was not threatened with suspension or dismissal.
BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan subsequently said his source accused Alastair Campbell (search), Blair's communications director, of insisting on including the 45-minute claim. A Parliamentary probe cleared Campbell of that allegation.
The controversy centers over the May 29 BBC report citing an unidentified official saying the 45-minute claim was inserted to build up an intelligence dossier published last September.
Kelly told the Parliament committee this week he had spoken to the BBC. But he said he didn't make the claims in the report and didn't believe he was the source cited. The BBC has refused government requests to reveal who the source was.
Donald Anderson, who chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee (search) where Kelly testified Tuesday, said the committee "felt pretty confident that he [Kelly] was not in fact the source."
Anderson, a Labor Party lawmaker, told BBC television that Kelly had appeared "rather relaxed" during his testimony and seemed to be "on top of things
The BBC report fueled a wider controversy that has left Blair facing a barrage of questions over prewar intelligence.
In a historic address to Congress in Washington, Blair said Thursday he and President Bush would not be proven wrong in their prewar claims about Iraq's weapons capabilities. Even if they are, says Blair, a menace has been defeated.
Television journalist Tom Mangold said he had spoken to Kelly's wife, Janice, on Friday morning, and she said her husband had felt stressed after appearing before the parliamentary committee to face questions about the BBC report.
"She didn't use the word depressed, but she said he was very, very stressed and unhappy about what had happened and this was really not the kind of world he wanted to live in," Mangold told ITV news.
Conservative committee member Richard Ottaway also 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 pressure."
The Ministry of Defense said it had offered accommodation for Kelly so that he could avoid media attention. The ministry and Blair's office separately expressed concern Friday for Kelly's welfare.
"Our thoughts are with his family and friends," a Blair spokesman said.