The eerie premonition was revealed on Thursday at the Hutton inquiry – an official investigation into the apparent suicide of Kelly.

Kelly was at the centre of a row between the BBC and the Blair government over whether Blair’s inner circle exaggerated evidence about Iraq’s weapons’ capacity in order to win support for war.

A former Iraq weapons inspector, Kelly’s body was found in woodlands near his home last month In February he allegedly told diplomat David Broucher that he advised Iraqi officials that "they would have nothing to fear" if they cooperated with inspectors.

Broucher said he asked Kelly what would happen if Iraq were attacked. "His reply was, which I took to be a throwaway remark: 'I will be found dead in the woods.'"

"The implication was if the invasion went ahead, that would make him a liar and he would have betrayed his contacts, some of whom might be killed as a result of his actions," Broucher told the inquiry probing the death of the weapons expert.

"I thought he might have meant that he was at risk of being attacked by the Iraqis in some way," Broucher said.

Welded to the truth

But Broucher added that Kelly felt he was in a “morally ambiguous position” because he felt the war on Iraq might still go ahead.

"He said there had been a lot of pressure to make the dossier as robust as possible, that every judgment (in the dossier) had been robustly fought over"

David Broucher,                 
British diplomat

Kelly has been described a former employers as a man "welded to the truth".

Less than a month after his conversation with the diplomat, Anglo-American forces invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, saying Saddam had failed to prove he had abandoned his weapons of mass destruction programmes.

But four months have passes since the overthrow of Hussein and no such weapons have been found in Iraq. 

Broucher said Kelly, who was the source for a BBC reporter's accusations that Blair's government "sexed up" a dossier making the case for war, believed British intelligence services had come under pressure to produce compelling evidence.

"He said there had been a lot of pressure to make the dossier as robust as possible, that every judgment (in the dossier) had been robustly fought over," he said.

The most dramatic section of the September dossier said Saddam had chemical and biological weapons that could be unleashed within 45 minutes.

But Broucher said Kelly, a microbiologist and biological weapons specialist, appeared unconvinced.

"He felt if the Iraqis had any bio-weapons left they would not have very much," he told the inquiry.

Broucher also said Kelly told him the deadly poisons "would be kept separately from the munitions and that this meant that the weapons could not be used quickly.”