Friday, 31 December 2010

Louise Holmes and Brock

New Years Eve and my special wish for 2011 is that justice will be done in determining the real cause of the death of Dr David Kelly.  As it is the day it is I'm not writing a long post but I thought it might be a pleasant diversion to supply a couple of links for videos of Louise Holmes and search dog Brock who it will be recalled, along with Paul Chapman, discovered the body of Dr Kelly on 18th July 2003.

These "youtube" videos result from Ms Holmes and Brock entering the Crufts "Friends for Life" competition in 2009 and, as will be seen in the second video, they went on to win it.  These are the links:
Brock is a lively chap isn't he!

Brock works by "air scenting".  There is a useful article about how this works:

To followers of this blog (excluding any readers who have been lying about the death of Dr Kelly) I wish you a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Dominic Grieve - now it's over to you

Sometime in the near future we expect the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, to make one of his most significant decisions: whether to set in train the events that will lead to an inquest into the death in July 2003 of Dr David Kelly.

The group of doctors who had presented a legal document, a "memorial" as it's known to Mr Grieve some months ago subsequently made it available for viewing on the internet.  The Memorial can be read here.  In the Memorial they robustly present their case as to why the Hutton Inquiry process was woefully inadequate and hence why an inquest is now necessary.  They also, and this is important, point out that another coroner should be used not the Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner.  Mr Gardiner it will be remembered had the opportunity to reopen the adjourned inquest into Dr Kelly's death but declined to do so and cannot now be considered in any way a suitable candidate to oversee a new inquest.  Furthermore whilst the Hutton Inquiry was under way a final death certificate was issued, a certificate that was deficient and was not signed by a coroner or doctor as it has to be.  In my opinion by not being signed it was not a legal document and the Registrar of Deaths had absolutely no business to accept it onto the register.  Another thing: as flagged up in the Memorial Mr Gardiner gave an interview to a newspaper after the Hutton Report was published but before he announced that he would not reopen the adjourned inquest in which he stated he was seeking closure.  Without doubt this is a gross abuse of his position and for that reason alone is not a fit person to oversee a new inquest.

To perhaps stiffen Mr Grieve's resolve the doctors pointed out yesterday that the case for a new inquest is unanswerable.  It should be mentioned that although the arguments in the Memorial are more than enough to trigger a new inquest others have also made their depositions to the Attorney General.  It is worth going over to  where Dr Andrew Watt has produced well reasoned letters to the Attorney General which clearly show why a further investigative process is now essential.  I too have written to Mr Grieve as can be read here.

I've read comments on various internet sites that the immediate family of the late Dr David Kelly don't want an inquest and therefore there shouldn't be one.  They are 100% wrong about this, it is not for the family to decide, it is a legal matter - the Hutton inquiry subverted the law as to the procedure to be followed after an unusual and unexplained death.

Should Mr Grieve shy away from a new inquest under a new coroner then I can see all hell being let loose.  The politicians must never again be allowed to overrule the judicial system to pursue their own agenda.

Monday, 27 December 2010

No power to subpoena witnesses

Much has been made of the fact that witnesses at the Hutton Inquiry weren't examined under oath.  An exception to this seems to be that of the evidence of Professor Hawton: at the start of his transcript is the word (sworn).  Presumably he elected to give evidence under oath but was not compelled to.  For a person whose testimony was always likely to be more opinion based than fact based he would not be particularly liable to a charge of perjury from what he said.

Another gross failure of the Hutton Inquiry of course was the fact that his Lordship couldn't compel witnesses to attend.  I'm flagging this up now because it is easy to say Hutton should have called certain people (for example DCI Alan Young).  But it has to be said that it is possible that Hutton did want DCI Young in our example but he, or his bosses said 'no'.  In reality I rather suspect that Lord Hutton had a convivial chat with say the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and came to a very amicable agreement about who should attend the Inquiry from the police side. 

I've just read an interesting fact in Norman Baker's book (page 266) that those making statements in connection with Dr Kelly's death had an opt out at the end of their statement allowing them to decide whether or not they would accept their statement being forwarded to the Inquiry.  So looking at the list of witness statements on the Inquiry website and wondering why a statement from an individual hasn't been lodged by Thames Valley Police might be purely because that person didn't want their statement to go forward for whatever reason.

Lord Hutton speculates in his Opening Statement

On the 1st of August 2003 Lord Hutton made his Opening Statement to the Inquiry.  In the course of his statement he relates a chronological sequence of events leading up to Dr David Kelly's death and makes mention of Dr Hunt's post-mortem report of 19th July.  This is an extract:

A post-mortem examination was carried out by Dr Nicholas Hunt, a Home Office accredited forensic pathologist and his post-mortem report dated 19th July  has been sent to me by the coroner. A toxicology report has also been sent to me by the coroner. The post-mortem report will be referred to in greater detail at a later stage in this Inquiry. However, it is relevant to state at this stage that it is the opinion of Dr Hunt that the main factor involved in bringing about the death of Dr Kelly was the bleeding from incised wounds to his left wrist. Dr Hunt also states:  "The fact that the watch appears to have been removed whilst blood was already flowing suggests that it has been removed deliberately in order to facilitate access to the wrist. The removal of the watch in this way and indeed the removal of the spectacles are features pointing towards this being an act of self harm."  

I am quite clear in my own mind that Lord Hutton was completely out of order in making the direct quote of Dr Hunt (the last four lines above).   This is for two reasons: firstly what Dr Hunt is saying here is purely speculative and secondly by mentioning the words 'self harm' in the context shown in his Opening Statement Lord Hutton has planted the seed of a conclusion that Dr Kelly committed suicide before evidence is heard from the witnesses.  For these two reasons this part of Lord Hutton's statement is unacceptable.

Regarding the quote made by Dr Hunt this is a good moment I think to elaborate on why I consider it speculation, and hence why it should have had no place in the Opening Statement.  Dr Hunt has produced no evidence to show that removal of watch and spectacles are indicative of intent to cause self harm, none whatsoever.  The removal of the watch might just as easily have been carried out by another party whist the blood was flowing as by Dr Kelly.  Because of blood on the watch Dr Hunt opines that Dr Kelly removed it after he had started cutting his wrist,   yet there is good evidence that Dr Kelly was very meticulous in what he did, so logically one might say that he would remove the watch before the start of cutting and then leave it on the right side of his body.  The positioning of the watch to his left and with blood on it is to me more suggestive of action by another person or persons.

As to the removal of his spectacles Dr Hunt is once again speculating.  I would refer the reader back to this entry I made .  It is quite clear from the video that Dr Kelly didn't necessarily have cause to wear his spectacles for every waking minute of the day.  Although spectacles were found in his jacket pocket  Dr Hunt has no idea at all in my opinion whether he was wearing them on his walk.  Let me present this scenario: let us suppose that he sets out for his walk wearing them (Ms Absalom could have been usefully questioned on this).  Dr Kelly is abducted and rendered unconscious if not immediately killed.  The intention is to bring him to Harrowdown Hill much later on.  To ensure that his spectacles don't fall off in the transportation process, and become evidence of body transfer, the perpetrators take them off and stuff them in his pocket.

I notice too that Dr Kelly's mobile phone was found in the same pocket not in the special pouch where you would expect Dr Kelly to keep it.  It suggests to me that after abduction his kidnappers switched the phone off and seemed to have put everything into the same pocket.  I would have imagined that David Kelly was the sort of person where everything had its particular place rather than mobile, key fob, spectacles and blister packs being crammed into the same pocket.

Speculation on my part?  I don't deny it but every bit as credible as the opinions expressed by Dr Hunt, opinions that Lord Hutton decided to insert into what should have been a purely factual summary.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Lord Hutton - a liar or an incompetent?

Lord Hutton, in writing his Report following the completion of the Inquiry, attempts to deal with the inconsistencies between different witness testimonies about events at Harrowdown Hill on the 18th July 2003.  Just to repeat again part of 151 in Chapter 5:

I have seen a photograph of Dr Kelly's body in the wood which shows that most of his body was lying on the ground but that his head was slumped against the base of the tree - therefore a witness could say either that the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree.   

Unfortunately Lord Hutton didn't know who took this photo 'but it is likely to be a police photographer'.  At least this is what he says in reply to a question from Norman Baker as recorded in Mr Baker's book.  Well one would expect that as I assume that all the police photos taken on the 18th would  be submitted to the Inquiry.  We know that PC Sawyer took a number of photos on his arrival at the scene at about 10 o'clock  and that later that morning Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCOs) appeared and in the "forensic" phase doubtless more pictures were taken prior to the necessary but limited movement of Dr Kelly when Dr Hunt examined him. 

At this point it's worth reading an entry by Andrew Watt on his Chilcot's Cheating Us blog of 16 December and to read the comments following it, particularly from "Lancashire Lad".  You will see that LL has itemised some of the evidence from the Inquiry from PC Sawyer and from DC Coe and contrasted them.  DC Coe's position is that once PCs Franklin and Sawyer appear on scene the former of these two PCs takes over responsibility and that he, Coe, has nothing further to do with the investigation that day.  PC Sawyer's take is somewhat different suggesting that he and PC Franklin went back down the track to bring their Land Rover up whilst leaving DC Coe and colleagues guarding the body. 

As an aside here why was it necessary for both the PCs to return to their vehicle to drive it up closer (I'm not clear from the evidence as to whether they just brought the Land Rover further up the track at this stage or started using the field immediately to the east of the wood - the field with the white tent that was to become familiar in media reports).  If I had been PC Franklin my natural desire in taking things over would be to stay with the body and detail PC Sawyer to drive up the lane. 

Now Lancashire Lad makes the very valid point that perhaps here was an opportunity for DC Coe to pull the body back toward the tree if he was so minded and that new position is what the forensic photographer recorded and the same photo that Lord Hutton subsequently saw and commented on.  The problem here for me is that such an act by DC Coe would be fraught with peril - he would know that the photographic record would prove that the body had been moved and that PCs Franklin and Sawyer would be aware of this and then become part of a conspiracy (assuming that they weren't before of course).  Another movement of the body after the ambulance crew leave the site is possible in my opinion rather than probable.   I can't remember where I saw it but think I read somewhere about Mr Coe now recalling that yes Dr Kelly's head was against the bottom of the tree, rather like Lord Hutton's description by the sound of it!

Subsequent to the Inquiry the ambulance crew of Vanessa Hunt and Dave Bartlett have thankfully expanded our knowledge of the situation at Harrowdown Hill and we now know that there was space between Dr Kelly's head in which Mr Bartlett could stand.   If Lord Hutton was looking at one of PC Sawyer's photos and used this sighting as the basis of his remark in Chapter 5 of the Report then I believe that he is clearly guilty of lying.   If we give him the benefit of the doubt and admit there were photos of Dr Kelly in different positions then it is possible that he saw a photo as he described.  But if he was doing his job competently then surely he would have had a look at all the photos lodged and picked up on the fact that there was a discrepancy between the photos taken at the "discovery" stage and those taken later at the "forensic" stage.

I think what may have surprised Hutton is firstly that the ambulance crew had the honesty and integrity to go public over their concerns when they saw conclusions not making sense and secondly that there are some of us out here who just don't meekly accept what other people say when we see things that are just plain wrong.   

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Lord Hutton, the number of policemen and the body position

Although there are plenty of discrepancies and oddities thrown up by the Hutton Inquiry two in particular have become familiar to those who are trying to make sense of the mystery of Dr David Kelly's death.  In summary these deal with the testimony of several witnesses that DC Coe was accompanied by two other people at Harrowdown Hill, and that the position of Dr Kelly's body as observed by the two volunteer searchers differed from that reported by all the subsequent witnesses.

These variations were so significant that Lord Hutton felt obliged to address them in his Report.  It might be asked why neither Hutton nor his counsel at the Inquiry pressed the witnesses concerned at the time of their examination about the obvious discrepancies rather than leave it to one all embracing paragraph buried in his Report.

One needs to go to Chapter 5 of the Report 'The search for Dr Kelly and the finding of his body'.  Scroll down to paragraph 151 and you read this from Lord Hutton:

Those who try cases relating to a death or injury (whether caused by crime or accident) know that entirely honest witnesses often give evidence as to what they saw at the scene which differs as to details. In the evidence which I heard from those who saw Dr Kelly's body in the wood there were differences as to points of detail, such as the number of police officers at the scene and whether they were all in uniform, the amount of blood at the scene, and whether the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. I have seen a photograph of Dr Kelly's body in the wood which shows that most of his body was lying on the ground but that his head was slumped against the base of the tree - therefore a witness could say either that the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. These differences do not cause me to doubt that no third party was involved in Dr Kelly's death. 

I am prepared to accept that in certain circumstances honest witnesses can give differing evidence as to detail; for instance it might be an event that happens almost in the blink of an eye such as a gang making a getaway from a bank raid.  In such a scenario too a lot of the observers would be people not particularly trained to accurately take in detail of a scene.  The situation at Harrowdown Hill on the 18th July 2003 would have been vastly different I maintain and in my opinion the remarks made by Hutton in paragraph 151 are deliberately misleading.

We now know as fact that DC Coe was lying regarding the number of people accompanying him.  All witnesses making statements about the number of people in his party were saying there were three altogether.  Three is 50% more than two.  If it had been say half a dozen police then a witness might make a small mistake on number.  The searchers for instance met DC Coe and his companions face to face evidently, if people approached from the side it might just be possible to have made a mistake here but if those you are meeting are directly facing you and that meeting is more than a glance of a few seconds then I contend that it would be impossible to get the number wrong as between two and three.  In the case of the searchers they say that DC Coe and companions identified themselves to them and obviously there was then some conversation.  Moving on to PCs Franklin and Sawyer and the ambulance crew these are people whose professions direct them to be observant and again they had ample time to absorb the detail of how many people were accompanying DC Coe.

In dealing with the position of the body  Hutton says:

I have seen a photograph of Dr Kelly's body in the wood which shows that most of his body was lying on the ground but that his head was slumped against the base of the tree - therefore a witness could say either that the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. 

Although it is possible that searcher Paul Chapman had a camera facility on his mobile and took a picture I can't really believe that such a photo would have been the one seen by Lord Hutton and commented on.  We know that PC Sawyer and subsequently others took photographs of the body, these being official would have had a time stamp on them.  Lodged at the Inquiry there is no doubt that Hutton would have been able to see exactly where Dr Kelly's head was in relation to the tree.

These are the words of ambulance technician Dave Bartlett from the Daily Mail earlier this year:

‘He was lying flat out some distance from the tree. He definitely wasn’t leaning against it. I remember saying to the copper, “Are you sure he hasn’t fallen out of the tree?”
‘When I was there the body was far enough away from the tree for someone to get behind it. I know that because I stood there when we were using the electrodes to check his heart. Later I learned that the dog team said they had found him propped up against the tree. He wasn’t when we got there. If the earlier witnesses are saying that, then the body has obviously been moved.’

Read more:
This is a direct quote.  So is Dave Bartlett's memory at fault about the space between tree and body?  Perhaps Lord Hutton felt obliged to make something up to try and close down the witness discrepancy that was leading to concern that the body had been moved.
For my part I don't believe that Dave Bartlett has a problem with his memory.

Friday, 10 December 2010

An open letter to the Attorney General - the death of Dr David Kelly

I have today sent a letter to the Attorney General by Recorded Delivery.  The text is below:

Dominic Grieve QC
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Office
20 Victoria Street

Open letter

10 December 2010

Dear Mr Grieve
The death of Dr David Kelly

In considering whether there should be a reconvened inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly you had asked that anybody with new evidence concerning Dr Kelly's death should send it to you. The purpose of this letter is to appraise you of new evidence that has entered the public domain in the last few days. This is evidence that has been obtained from Freedom of Information requests.

In his report Lord Hutton states that the causes of Dr Kelly's death were as follows
1a Haemorrhage
1b Incised wounds to the left wrist

 2 Coproxamol ingestion and coronary artery atherosclerosis

Although there is clear evidence demonstrating that reasons 1a and 1b above are unsafe the content of this letter is more specifically dealing with the first part of “2” above: Coproxamol ingestion.

As you may be aware three blister packs of coproxamol tablets were found by the forensic pathologist Dr Hunt in a pocket of the Barbour jacket Dr Kelly was wearing when his body was discovered. One tablet remained in one of the blister packs, potentially there were a total of 30 tablets available originally from the three packs.

A fingertip search in and around the area of the body was conducted by police on the 18th July 2003, the day Dr Kelly's body was discovered. No evidence was found of any spilled tablets and it is commonly assumed that the missing 29 tablets were swallowed by Dr Kelly.

Close to Dr Kelly's body a part full Evian bottle of water was found. The bottle had a capacity of 500 ml and a FOI request has yielded the fact that 111 ml of water remained in the bottle. Thus assuming that Dr Kelly set out with a full bottle a maximum of 389 ml could have been drunk. Even if Dr Kelly had used all the available water I do not consider it possible that he would have found the amount anywhere near sufficient for his purpose. Obviously the fact that he only used a maximum of 389 ml makes the scenario of swallowing 29 tablets even more preposterous.

In his evidence to the Hutton Inquiry the forensic biologist Mr Green proffered an explanation about the presence of blood smearing on the bottle and its top: he explained that 'when people are injured and losing blood they will become thirsty'. Hence Dr Kelly as he was losing blood would have drunk some water and that would be the explanation of the presence of blood on bottle and cap. It is of course perfectly possible for the bottle and its cap to have been smeared with blood by another party wanting to make a murder look like suicide.

If we accept what Mr Green suggests as fact in this case then we have the situation that Dr Kelly used even less than 389 ml of water to swallow the tablets. Dr Kelly, being both intelligent and intellectual, would have understood that he would have had a far greater chance of success with the coproxamol tablets if he bought some alcohol, say a bottle of spirits, to swallow the tablets. Dr Kelly had the opportunity to purchase alcohol at Southmoor. He failed to take advantage of that opportunity.

Although about 22% of the potentially maximum available water was unused Dr Hunt, in his now published report of 25 July 2003, makes no estimate of the residual water in the bottle. He cannot recall at the Inquiry how much water was still in it. Questions do not appear to have been asked at the Inquiry regarding the sufficiency of the quantity of water Dr Kelly had with him to both swallow the tablets and replace the fluid lost by the bleeding.

A FOI request was made concerning the checking of the blister packs for fingerprints. One of the packs was retained for DNA checking; unsurprisingly with the packets being in Dr Kelly's coat pocket his DNA was found on the pack. The other two blister packs were checked for fingerprints, none were recovered. Considering that some pressure would have been required in order to remove the tablets from the packs I don't consider it tenable that in removing 19 or 20 tablets he wouldn't have left some fingerprints. There is no evidence that Dr Kelly wore gloves, in fact in the middle of July in what was a warm summer he would have had absolutely no reason to do so. The fact that all three blister packs were in Dr Kelly's pocket demonstrates that they were not left exposed to the elements. There had been a previous FOI request I understand that determined that there were no fingerprints on the knife found next to the body either.

This new evidence further demonstrates that the conclusion drawn by Lord Hutton as to the cause of Dr Kelly's death was incorrect. Clearly an inquest into Dr Kelly's death with witnesses under oath and subject to cross examination is now needed.

Yours faithfully

Brian Spencer


Friday, 3 December 2010

No fingerprints on the co-proxamol blister packs

On the 16th November I made a FOI request to Thames Valley Police.  The questions and their responses are shown below:

On the 18th July 2003 the dead body of Dr David Kelly was found at Harrowdown Hill Oxfordshire.  Three blister packs of the drug co-proxamol were found in a pocket of his jacket at the scene.  My FoI request is as follows:

(a) Were any of the three packs checked for fingerprints?


(b) Were all of the blister packs checked for fingerprints?

No – 1 packet was reserved for DNA (full profile of Dr Kelly obtained).

(c) If a "yes" answer to (a) or (b) were any fingerprints found?

None recovered.

(d) If a "yes" answer to (c) were the fingerprints identified as belonging to Dr Kelly?


The water left in the Evian bottle

I made a Freedom of Information request to Thames Valley Police on 8 November.  I am attaching my request and their response to it:

Thank you for your request for information dated 08/11/2010 which for clarity I have repeated below.

On the 18th July 2003 the dead body of Dr David Kelly was found at Harrowdown Hill, Oxfordshire.  Close to his body we are told that there was an open bottle of Evian water with an unspecified amount of water in it.  This FoI request is to be informed about the exact quantity of water that was still in the bottle.

Your request for information has now been considered and I am able to inform you there was 111 millilitres of water remaining in the bottle.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Dr Kelly, Mrs Kelly and journalist Nick Rufford

Wednesday 9th July was a particularly significant day in the lead up to the death of Dr David Kelly, it was the day that Mrs Kelly states that she and her husband fled from their home in Southmoor to escape the attention of the Press.  I shall write about that in more detail in a subsequent post but now I want to concentrate on earlier events that day.

This is the relevant part of an exchange between Mr Dingemans and Mrs Kelly concerning her husband's activities on 9th July:

Q. On the 9th July, do you know where he was?
A. Yes.
Q. Did he go to London?
A. Yes, he was supposed to be going to London so I was quite surprised when he said he was going to work in the garden all day. Again he got on to his vegetable patch and was working in a rather lacklustre way that particular day but he did receive and make some phone calls as well.

Now we can look at part of the testimony of Sunday Times journalist Nick Rufford given to Mr Knox on 21 August ie prior to that given by Mrs Kelly (the first question in this piece relates to an article written by one of Mr Rufford's colleagues Tom Baldwin.  The MOD had adopted a policy of confirming the name of Andrew Gilligan's alleged source to the first journalist who guessed it correctly)

Q. That was the article printed on Saturday 5th July?
A. Correct.
Q. Did you then try to call Dr Kelly?
A. The next morning I did, yes.
Q. So that would be on Wednesday 9th July?
A. Correct.
Q. And what happened?
A. He was not there but I spoke to Janice Kelly.
Q. What was said in that conversation?
A. I asked Janice Kelly whether Dr Kelly had gone to Iraq and she said that he had not, that he had postponed his departure and that in fact he had gone to London 

Q. Did you decide to do anything after this conversation?
A. In the afternoon, I decided to drive down and see Dr Kelly.
Q. And at what time did you start driving down -- I should ask you from where were you going to be driving down?
A. From London. 
Q. At what time did you begin driving down?
A. Late afternoon, I believe. 
Q. Would you be able to put a time to it, an approximate time to it?
A. Probably about 4-ish, 4 or 5.
Q. The reason I am asking is this: it appears that Dr Kelly's name was confirmed certainly to a Financial Times journalist late in the afternoon. I was wondering whether at the point you began driving down you yourself were aware that Dr Kelly had been named or his name had been confirmed by the Ministry of  Defence?
A. I was not aware that his name had been confirmed and I did not know at that stage that Dr Kelly was or was the person that had spoken to Andrew Gilligan.
LORD HUTTON: Why were you going down then on that afternoon, Mr Rufford?
A. Because I thought the accumulation of clues pointed to Dr Kelly quite strongly and I thought that I would go down and see if I could persuade him to talk to me about it.

MR KNOX: You did not yourself try to talk to the Ministry of Defence press office that day, that is to say 9th July? 
A. Not at that stage. I spoke to the Ministry of Defence in the evening of 9th July after I had spoken to Dr Kelly.

Knox doesn't seem to be on the ball here, not querying how 9th July happens to be the day after the 5th!  Mr Rufford gives his story again when called back to the inquiry on 24 September - I haven't done a line by line check as yet but his two testimonies seem to tie together pretty well from a cursory look.  On his second visit to the inquiry Mr Rufford again says he unsuccessfully tried to contact Dr Kelly on that day but doesn't mention Mrs Kelly this time.

There is agreement that Mr Rufford arrived at about 7.30 pm that evening and that Mr Rufford spoke to Dr Kelly at the garden gate.  As to how long they talked Mrs Kelly stated: 'The conversation only took place over about four or five minutes maximum.'  This is somewhat at variance with Mr Rufford's recollection that he was with Dr Kelly for about a quarter of an hour.

'The press were on their way in droves'  is how Mr Rufford put it according to Mrs Kelly yet according to The Sunday Times man it was Dr Kelly who informed him about his (Dr Kelly's) name being in the public domain.  Dr Bryan Wells, Dr Kelly's line manager says he got the information about Dr Kelly's name being outed to David Kelly via two mobile phone calls while he was on the train the times of these calls being 19.03 and 19.09.  Although he was on a train Dr Wells was convinced that he had been able to adequately get the message across to Dr Kelly.  This then was about 20 to 25 minutes before Mr Rufford turned up.  Oddly Mrs Kelly doesn't seem to make any reference to these important phone calls. 

There is more to blog about following the departure of Mr Rufford from the gate of the Kelly home but I'm stopping at this point otherwise this post will become unwieldy.  Certainly there are peculiarities in the subsequent events which I shall attempt to address in the next post or two.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Husband and Wife communication problems

One of the really troubling matters I've found in looking at the testimonies at the Hutton Inquiry is the evidence given by Mrs Kelly.  Compared with just about every other bit of information I can find relating to the final week or so of Dr Kelly's life the impression I get from her is of her husband being very downbeat and miserable and at times hardly eating.  So why was she painting such a dark picture of the way he was compared with one's other perceptions?

The first thing I would say is that to all intents and purposes David Kelly had two marriages, the first one obviously to Janice Kelly and the second to his job, or one could almost say his vocation.  Of course this situation wasn't unique to the Kellys but marriages of their sort would be in the minority I'm sure.  It wasn't just Dr Kelly's devotion to his job but we find that he was quite frequently away from home and even when at home writing reports, dealing with emails, making phone calls and so on.

In her evidence at the Inquiry Mrs Kelly is quite vague about what her husband's job entailed.  I believe that Dr Kelly had his own difficulties in talking to her about the nature of his work.  It seems that he had no such problem in talking to other women about what he was or had been doing, women such as Mai Pederson and Dr Olivia Bosch.  Of course such people were well versed in the sort of technical matters that Dr Kelly was engaged in.  There has been speculation about Dr Kelly having an affair, my own response is that we don't know about any such thing and I'm certainly not going to get into any such possibility.  I'll just make the point that I believe that Dr Kelly had some communication problems with his wife, particularly regarding the nature of his work and we should remember much of this would have been off limits regarding discussing with anyone other than ones colleagues.

On the evening of Wednesday 9th July the Kelly's are alerted that following the revelation that Dr Kelly was the source for the Andrew Gilligan report the press were on their way and it might be a good idea to disappear from the home in Southmoor and lie low for a few days.  To me this situation must have been very traumatic for them both.  Here are a couple who are very private, who in the blink of an eye are hurled out of their comfort zone.  We tend to think of our homes as our little fortresses, places very reassuring, very private.  In a sense if just one person was in this predicament then it wouldn't be so bad but in this instance I suspect that not only were David and Janice Kelly both very tense on their own accounts but extremely worried about each other.  It seems from Mrs Kelly's evidence that they had a problem with both communicating and sharing their concerns.  We must remember that, in effect, fleeing from their own home they were very much in uncharted territory.

Some of Janice Kelly's evidence relating to the time she and her husband sped off to Cornwall is difficult to believe and an incident involving another scientist "Mr A" on Thursday 10th July leads one toward the conclusion that either Mrs Kelly or Mr A were either mistaken or lying with regard to their testimonies.  I'll blog about this on another occasion.

Suffice to say at the moment that it seems that the Kelly's inability to talk about David's job dates back a long way and that the very difficult situation they found themselves in that July just compounded the situation.

UPDATE: Since writing the above I have read a piece from the MailOnLine for 29 August 2003. I have added a comment about it on this post.


Sunday, 21 November 2010

When did the police decide Dr Kelly's death was suicide?

I've been reading the testimony of Sarah Pape, Dr Kelly's sister, with renewed interest.  Her evidence was taken by Mr Knox on the 1st September and followed the examination of Mrs Kelly by Mr Dingemans.  Mrs Pape is a consultant plastic surgeon based at Newcastle on Tyne and one would expect her evidence to be clear and precise but there are oddities in her testimony and some of these have been commented on by Felix, either on this blog or that of Andrew Watt: Chilcot's cheating us.  Sometime I must go through her testimony word by word but from what I've seen so far the peculiarities might just be down to a degree of confusion. 

On pages 92 and 93 of the transcripts Mrs Pape relates that she went into work on Friday 18th but she had been told that Dr Kelly was missing.  This is part of her testimony:

'I would rather have stayed at home by the phone in case there was any news. But there were patients that really I had to go and deal with so I went into work that morning.
Between operations I went back to my office and checked to see whether there were messages on my mobile phone and I picked up a message from Janice, my sister-in-law, shortly before 10 o'clock and the message that she left was to say that there was going to be a press release and that I might hear something about my brother having disappeared, but I knew that already so I was not too concerned.

I returned to my office between the next two operations, which would have been some time after 10 o'clock, and there was a message from my husband asking me to ring home. I initially thought he was just going to give me the same information, that the press would by now know. In fact when I rang him he told me that the police had found my brother's body and that it looked as though he had committed suicide.'

If we accept the veracity of Mrs Pape's evidence we have the almost unbelievable situation of someone in Thames Valley Police reckoning that Dr Kelly's death looked like a suicide, this judgement being made on that Friday morning.  Twenty four hours after Mrs Pape gave her evidence we have DS Webb from the police telling the Inquiry that he was tasked to return to the Kelly house from Abingdon to tell the Family that a body had been discovered, following that information being received at 9.20.  My guess is that one of the daughters, Rachel or Sian, took on the responsibility of phoning the Pape home with the dreadful news.

If DS Webb left for Southmoor fairly soon after 9.20 I would assume that he would have had a confirmatory message on the way based on information that DC Coe would have radioed or phoned in from Harrowdown Hill.  So was Mrs Pape mistaken in reporting what her husband said or did the police think that the death was a suicide based on the fact of some blood in the area of the left wrist and a bloodstained knife nearby? 

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Evidence from an inner sanctum

One of the unusual aspects of procedure in the Hutton Inquiry was the way that Dr Kelly's widow Janice and one of the daughters Rachel gave their evidence (the other two daughters Ellen and Sian didn't appear before Lord Hutton).  Although they arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday 1st September 2003 to give their testimonies their evidence was unusually by an audio link from another part of the building.  Norman Baker thinks that a possible reason for this rather strange arrangement was the desire to shield both women from a degree of media attention but of course photography wouldn't have been allowed in the courtroom and apart from Lord Hutton's opening and closing statements TV cameras were not allowed access.

This report on the BBC shows Mrs Kelly and Rachel arriving at the Inquiry on the morning of the 1st September.  It can be seen that Mrs Kelly, suffering from arthritis, isn't very mobile.  Rachel, it will be observed, is carrying what looks like a document case and I'll come back to this in a moment.  I assume that the exchanges one hears in the second half of this video have been spoken by actors.

In his opening statement we hear from Lord Hutton that he visited Mrs Kelly on the morning of Saturday 26th July at her home and received information from her.  The fact that this visit happened prior to Hutton taking verbal evidence is not something that unduly surprises me, remember that the Inquiry is not an inquest.  What has caught my attention though is an interesting fact revealed by this very useful time line provided by the BBC.  It shows that Lord Hutton wasn't alone when he visited the Kelly Family on the 26th, he was accompanied by senior counsel to the inquiry Mr Dingemans.

On Tuesday 2nd September Ruth Absalom gives her relatively brief evidence by an audio link.  I'm not sure where it was from, I have a feeling it was from Oxford, certainly Ms Absalom wasn't dragged up to London.  The question I am posing is this: if Janice and Rachel Kelly were going to give their evidence unseen why bring them up to London?  Why not adopt a similar procedure to that used in the case of Ms Absalom the following day?  Here is a possible scenario - Mrs Kelly and Rachel go up to London on that last weekend in August and stay at a hotel (nothing wrong in that).  On the Sunday say they are visited by Lord Hutton and Mr Dingemans and the latter outlines the questions he will be asking the next day and they have time to consider their responses.  I shall have to go through the hearings again for that Monday but certainly the exchanges had a feeling of almost being pre-prepared.  Was this the real reason for the Kelly's being kept out of vision, so that they aren't seen reading the script?  Was this 'script' the documents that Rachel might have been carrying in with her?  In a separate room I can imagine mother and daughter sitting next to each other giving each other moral support.

There are many people who question whether Mrs Kelly was being entirely honest in the presentation of her evidence.  It seems that the Family are not at all keen for an inquest to now take place.  If an inquest were to be convened then Janice Kelly would have to give evidence under totally different circumstances.  She would surely then be in open court with not just her words but her body language under intense scrutiny.  She could be subject to cross examination.  She would be alone whereas at Hutton I imagine Rachel sitting right next to her.  It can be seen that the way she would have to give her evidence would be dramatically, totally different to that at the Inquiry.  Plus she is already 7 years older.  Suppose there is an inquest (and I believe there should be one) and that an open verdict is reached.  From Mrs Kelly's perspective the Hutton verdict of suicide did bring some sort of closure for her, she sold the Family home and made what she believed to be a fresh start.  Would she welcome an inquest?  I can very clearly see why she might not.

One question about inquests in general that others might be able to clear up for me.  At a trial a witness is in a separate room until called to give evidence, and quite right too in my opinion.  At the Inquiry (and I've never seen anybody comment on this) it was evident that individual witnesses could listen in on what other witnesses were saying.  What is the situation at an inquest?  Does each witness give their evidence "cold" not knowing what previous witnesses have said.  I'd love to know the answer to that one.  It could be yet another very significant difference in procedure between an informal style of Inquiry like Hutton and an inquest. 


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A very odd way to commit suicide

Thames Valley Police and many media commentators appear to be convinced that Dr David Kelly killed himself at Harrowdown Hill either late on Thursday 17 July 2003 or in the early hours of the following day the 18th July.  It seems to me that all these people are coming from the wrong direction: they can't imagine that Dr Kelly was murdered so therefore he committed suicide.  There is always the possibility of course that he was murdered but the death was dressed up to look like suicide.

So why couldn't he have been murdered?  Well say the disbelievers that means there would have been some sort of conspiracy.  Can anybody explain to me why there couldn't have been some sort of conspiracy.  That doesn't mean that all the players caught up in the drama that was the unexplained death of Dr Kelly were part of some super conspiracy.  For instance the very many people who hate Tony Blair might believe that he was involved in such a conspiracy.  We don't have evidence of that.  Then there is the belief that in this country our security services just don't go round bumping off people like Dr Kelly.  I really don't know what happens in the murky world of intelligence but a killing might have been down to agents from another country for all we know.  Because the police found no sign of a struggle in the area of the body or on the body itself they deduce that there was no third party involvement in the death.  This might reduce the likelihood of murder being the cause of death but it is ridiculous to eliminate murder entirely on this basis. 

What has happened it seems is that the police and the forensic pathologist have decided that Dr Kelly committed suicide.  Not on any provable forensic basis but because they can't see the death could be one of murder so it just has to be suicide.  The absurdities that surround the alleged method of suicide count for nothing - for the police and journalists such as Tom Mangold and John Rentoul it's a sad case of suicide, don't argue.

In this post I am not discussing motives for suicide or murder I am looking at the way Dr Kelly supposedly killed himself.  Dr Kelly was 59 when he died, we know he had a very powerful intellect, can we believe that he would select a method to kill himself that had no guarantee of 100% success?  And why choose a way that would lead to a prolonged death, a death in which there was a possibility that he might be discovered before life was finally extinguished.  He would have had plenty of other options for goodness sake - how about drowning himself in one of the many flooded gravel pits in that part of the Thames Valley.  Or about falling off a high building.  Or jumping in front of a train .  Rapidity.  Sureness of success. That's what he would have looked for.

We are told that Dr Kelly took an excessive number of co-proxamol tablets  It is assumed, never proven, that the tablets came from a supply that Mrs Kelly kept at the family home for her arthritis.  Mrs Kelly's tablets were on prescription.  This means that the blister packs would have to have been in packaging with her name on it - a legal requirement.  Why wasn't the question of the missing packaging raised?  Many people insist that Dr Kelly swallowed 29 tablets on the basis that 29 were missing from the blister packs.  This of course is totally illogical.  On the other hand if he took just four where are the missing 25?  If he did take an excessive number of tablets then he would have become drowsy, hardly the best situation for wrist cutting.  In an earlier post I had demonstrated that he had a minimal amount of water with him, a maximum of 500 ml, some of which was unused and I would suggest that it is an absolute nonsense that he could have taken more than a small number of co-proxamol, certainly an insufficient number to guarantee death.

Moving on to the cutting of the ulnar artery.  Some have said that people have died from the cutting of this artery but I'm waiting to see anyone actually giving factual details to back up any such statement.  It is totally sensible to believe that Dr Kelly would be aware that cutting a small artery transversely in this manner would have an absolute minimum chance of success.  So why would he do it.  Why not at least go for the much more accessible radial artery, this would also make for a far more comfortable cutting action than going for the ulnar artery.  Why did Dr Kelly select the least suitable knife he could find?  There are arteries in other parts of the body that would have bled out far more quickly than the ulnar.  Dr Hunt had noted 'an old, curving scar around the outer aspect of the right elbow', perhaps he should have asked himself whether that affected his ability to use an old gardening knife to cut the ulnar artery.

Regarding the knife found at the scene we have never seen proof that it was used for cutting Dr Kelly's ulnar artery nor has it been proven that this knife was the one owned by Dr Kelly.  At the Inquiry Dr Hunt said this:

The complex of incised wounds over the left wrist is entirely consistent with having been inflicted by a bladed weapon, most likely candidate for which would have been a knife. Furthermore, the knife present at the scene would be a suitable candidate for causing such injuries.

This is hardly proof that the knife found caused the wrist injuries.

At an inquest suicide would have to be proved 'beyond all reasonable doubt'.  Even just these few observations I've made show that the verdict of Lord Hutton is unsafe   

Friday, 12 November 2010

All roads lead to Harrowdown Hill

Dr Andrew Watt has an interesting post on his "Chilcot's Cheating Us" blog under the title "The Death of Dr.David Kelly - the absent CCTV evidence!"  This led to a number of comments as to whether Dr Kelly's movements were being constantly watched, not necessarily with him being physically shadowed on the ground but maybe by an attached electronic device.  Rowena makes the valid point that the intelligence services would have access to technology we know nothing about.  I've also heard the suggestion that the presence of his mobile phone on him would allow the security services to monitor his position.

So, when the police were out searching for Dr Kelly on the morning of the 18th July did they have a quite accurate idea as to where he was?  We are led to believe that attention was directed to Harrowdown Hill because it was popular with Dr Kelly.  I can accept this but what is questionable of course is the way that Harrowdown seems to have been prioritised over other locations to be searched.  It also seems fairly logical for the two volunteer searchers with the dog Brock to be used for the Harrowdown Hill search - we know from the evidence presented by Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman that the woods on Harrowdown Hill were exactly the sort of habitat best searched by a dog with a good nose.

Mr Dingemans establishes from PC Franklin that the latter has been called from his home at Windsor on the morning of the 18th to attend Abingdon Police Station.  The exchange continues:

Q. When you arrived, who else was there?
A. I met with my sergeant, Paul Woods, who took us into a briefing; and there was several other officers there.
Q. How many officers were there?
A. I could not tell you exactly.
Q. But roughly?
A. 8 to 10.
Q. You were given a briefing by your sergeant?
A. Yes.
Q. What was the nature of the briefing?
A. The nature of the briefing was initially a missing person search, to look for Dr David Kelly.

Q. You were given some details of Dr Kelly?
A. Yes, we were given a photograph with his details on it, what he was supposed to be wearing, and then Sergeant Woods and I discussed the search parameters and whereabouts we would start the search.
Q. And what was the nature of that discussion?
A. With all missing person inquiries we look, initially, to beauty spots, areas that are frequented by the missing person, and that is where we would start our search.
Q. Had you got any information about what areas he frequented then?
A. I was passed that information by Sergeant Woods.
Q. What were you told by Sergeant Woods?

A. The search would begin at Harrowdown Hill, which was apparently an area frequented by Dr Kelly on his regular walking route.
Q. And having had this discussion with Sergeant Woods, where do you go then?
A. We were actually at the police station. I was just deploying my team --
Q. How many are in your team?
A. I was given a search team leader, which is PC Sawyer, and 6 other officers, when we received a call that a body had been found at Harrowdown Hill.
Q. Do you know how many other people were out searching at this time?
A. I believe it was only the two volunteers out searching at that time. The parameters for our search and the logistics of calling our teams in does take a bit of time. So PC Sawyer and I were going to be the first team out on the ground.

Compare and contrast with this evidence given to Mr Knox by PC Sawyer a little later that morning:

Q. You were on duty on the morning of 18th July?
A. Yes.
Q. What happened when you first turned up?
A. I was called out, I believe, about 6 o'clock in the morning to attend Abingdon police station for 8, where I was informed by PC Franklin we had a high risk missing person. We had a missing person who was identified to me as Dr Kelly.
Q. Just pause there for a moment. A high risk missing person, meaning what?
A. "High risk" means that there is a possibility that because of the length of time they have been missing there is a possibility that he might have done himself harm.
Q. So Police Constable Franklin tells you that. Then what happens?

A. Then we are in the briefing that Police Constable Franklin has already described. We are just about to leave to perform our first searches, which would have been in the village and the surrounding areas of the route he was thought to have taken, when information came in that a body had been found. I then left with Police Constable Franklin to attend the scene.
Q. Can you remember what time it was that that information came in?
A. It would have been about 9 o'clock, I believe.

PC Sawyer seems to be mistaken about the 9 o'clock timing if we accept the time of 9.20 provided later by ACC Page.  In his evidence ACC Page refers to advice from two specialist search advisers - one of these was Sergeant Paul Wood (elsewhere referred to as Paul Woods) and the other an apparently unnamed sergeant from Milton Keynes.  They produced a list of about half a dozen places to look at initially, to the best of ACC Page's recollection Harrowdown Hill was number 2 on this list.

Some thoughts on the above:
1.  The volunteer searchers are sent unerringly to Harrowdown Hill for their first search.  Bearing in mind that there is surprisingly little other woodland in the area with the majority of that immediate landscape consisting of large open fields it's not unreasonable in my view for the volunteers to have been tasked to the Hill initially.
2.  PCs Franklin and Sawyer are at the same briefing that Friday morning.  PC Franklin is clear that the search is going to start at Harrowdown Hill.  PC Sawyer talks about the village and the surrounding areas.  Why the disparity between accounts?
3.  With the volunteers already in the process of searching the HH area while the briefing is going on why is Sergeant Woods planning to duplicate their efforts?  With about half a dozen areas to look at why isn't he considering one of these other areas?
4.  Time is surely of the essence as Dr Kelly has been away from his home for so many hours.  Whereas after a quick briefing the volunteer searchers are on their way, the police start their briefing at about 8 o'clock, an hour and 20 minutes later they are still at the station!  Part of the time delay might well be due to bureaucracy.  It's also possible that ACC Page is aware that DC Coe and colleagues are approaching Harrowdown Hill and that they might have work to carry out before the arrival of the regular police.
5.  ACC Page hears at 9.20 that a body that could be that of Dr Kelly is found.  It will be some minutes before DC Coe comes through with the message that he is at the body and is in control of the site.  Why didn't ACCPage immediately dispatch a fast police car, blue lights flashing to the site. We have no evidence of this happening.
6.  Felix made the observation (credit to him) that the two searchers were told to return to their car after finding the body.  He wondered why one of them at least hadn't been tasked to stay with the body until the police arrived.
7.  From DC Coe's scanty evidence we learn in one short paragraph that he is lucky enough to have found Ms Absalom, goes to the point she saw Dr Kelly the previous afternoon and has a 'light bulb' moment that causes him to make a sort of search towards the river, a direction that luck would have it takes him past the wood on Harrowdown Hill.  Is this credible?
8.  The police would have plenty of time during the course of the night to talk to Mrs Kelly and her daughters about the places to which Dr Kelly frequently went.  Did it really need a couple of sergeants with special search knowledge to indicate the best places to look for Dr Kelly?  Wouldn't someone of ACC Page's status been able to come to similar conclusions?

These are just a few more questions posed by what was said (or not said) at the Inquiry. 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

More than one report from Forensic Pathologist Dr Hunt

I have today sent a letter by recorded delivery to Kenneth Clarke, the UK's Minister of Justice.

The text of this letter is reproduced below:

Mr Kenneth Clarke QC MP
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France

9 November 2010

Open letter

Dear Mr Clarke
Forensic Pathologist's report into the death of Dr David Kelly

On the 22nd October 2010 you published the post mortem examination report and toxicology report relating to the death of Dr David Kelly.

Dr Hunt's post mortem examination report is dated 25 July 2003.

In his opening statement at the Hutton Inquiry Lord Hutton makes reference to the post mortem report: he states 'his post-mortem report dated 19th July has been sent to me by the coroner.' The 19th July is the day after Dr Kelly's body was found at Harrowdown Hill.

The record in Hansard for 5th March 2010 shows MP Norman Baker making a substantial statement in the House of Commons about the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly. He pointed out that the then Solitor-General appeared not to know that Dr Hunt changed his evidence in the run-up to the Inquiry.

Evidently the post mortem examination report dated 25th July 2003 and made public is not the only version of Dr Hunt's report and in fact is not the same one that Lord Hutton refers to in his opening statement at the Inquiry.

On your website in connection with the aforementioned published reports you state 'These reports have been published in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the inquiry into how Dr Kelly came by his death'.

There are clearly now doubts about why Dr Hunt would have made more than one report.

This is a formal request that any other version or versions of Dr Hunt's post mortem report are published in full.

I trust that this can be carried out expeditiously.

Yours faithfully

R B Spencer

Sunday, 7 November 2010

PC Franklin and a search for pills

We know from the evidence at the Inquiry that it was the Forensic Pathologist Dr Hunt who discovered the three blister packs of coproxamol in the pocket of Dr Kelly's Barbour jacket, this coat being part of the clothing worn by Dr Kelly.  So far as we can see there was no visible reason for anybody to expect to find any sort of medication at the Harrowdown Hill site.  Certainly Dr Kelly wasn't taking any medication in the period leading up to his death.

In PC Franklin's examination by Mr Dingemans we have this interesting exchange:

Q. When the forensic kit arrives and you start doing the fingertip search, do you start on the  common approach path?
A. I actually, as police search adviser, do not do the search; that was run by PC Sawyer.
Q. You watched them all doing it for you?
A. Some of the time. As police search adviser I have to liaise with the senior officers about the policies for the search and what we hope to get out of it, so I was backwards and forwards.
Q. What were you hoping to get out of this search?
A. We have to speak to the DCI initially and he wanted us to look for -- if again I may refer to my notes --  medicine or pill bottles, pills, pill foils or any receptacle or bag that may contain medicines.
Q. You are doing a search for that. Are you also looking for anything else?
A. Yes. The police search teams I work with would pick up anything that would be dropped by a human or out of the ordinary. Those are the items that were just specified to us, but as a search team we tend to look for anything that should not be there.

Further on in PC Franklin's testimony he is talking about a change in personnel for the fingertip search and we have this exchange:

Q. They carried out a fingertip search of that area?
A. They started at 19.24 hours and finished at 19.45 hours.
Q. Did they find anything?
A. Nothing.
Q. No sign of a struggle?
A. No.
Q. No other medicine bottles or anything?
A. No.

From other questioning of PC Franklin it is established that the DCI referred to in the first extract is DCI Alan Young.

In view of my opening remarks in this post I am very curious to know why DCI Young had placed particular emphasis on medicine bottles and the like.  A possibility would be that Mrs Kelly had noticed a depletion in her stock of prescribed coproxamol tablets and this fact relayed to the police with they in turn deducing that Dr Kelly may have had the missing pills with him.  A bit of a long shot but let us see if there is anything to support this theory.

There is an assumption by many that the blister packs in Dr Kelly's pocket originated from Mrs Kelly's supply.  There appears to be no confirmation that this was the case.  In his report Lord Hutton makes this statement:

It also appears probable that the Coproxamol tablets which Dr Kelly took just before his death came from a store of those tablets which Mrs Kelly, who suffered from arthritis, kept in their home.

Note the word 'probable'.

In her evidence Mrs Kelly doesn't definitively say that the tablets came from her store of them.  She 'assumed that'.  If Mrs Kelly wasn't guiding the police to the possibility that some of her tablets were missing then we are led to another rather alarming possibility: did DCI Young, the man in charge of "Operation Mason" have a reason to expect some evidence of pills or tablets to be found on or in the area of the body of Dr David Kelly?   

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Dr David Kelly's last interview

There is, to me, a very interesting interview here.  This is an interview with Dr Kelly just over a month before he died.  In it you get some sense of what David Kelly's vocation was all about, you can perhaps get to know him a little bit more.  Did he feel his life was increasingly under threat?  Did he want to get on film record the story of some of his most significant achievements outside of Iraq, while the going was good?  I don't know but I do feel that this film relates a very significant if not well known piece of history.  The other thing is that we know that witnesses have said he wasn't wearing his spectacles when his body was found.  Of course media pictures normally shows him wearing spectacles and the question has been raised as to when he might feel it unnecessary to wear them.  For much of this video he is not wearing them. 

Blogging may not happen tomorrow.  I've certainly got plenty to think about regarding this whole Kelly business.

The Evian Water Bottle

With so many interlinking strands relating to the strange death of Dr David Kelly it is all to easy to overlook an interesting point of detail.  Perhaps this is even more likely to occur when the subject is a rather mundane and common object ... such as a half litre bottle of water.

At this point I think the easiest thing is to look at what the early witnesses at Harrowdown Hill  said about this bottle.  Or, in the first case didn't say.  According to the evidence the first witness to see Dr Kelly's body was Louise Holmes and the second her fellow searcher Paul Chapman.  Now here is an oddity: neither Louise or Paul were questioned about the water bottle found close to Dr Kelly's body.  Nor were they asked about whether they saw the knife, wristwatch or cap nearby.  We know that in the case of Louise that she got within a few feet of the body.  As the first person to see the body one would expect Mr Knox to get her going in to some detail as to what Dr Kelly was wearing and if there were any objects close to the body.  Mr Knox is silent about this.  Surely the police would have gathered this information when she made her statement and Mr Knox would have her statement to hand when questioning her.

Mr Dingemans fared only slightly better with Paul - he did ask Paul if he could see what Dr Kelly was wearing.  Paul commented on jacket and shirt which was what one might expect with someone who is actually sitting with his back against a tree rather than flat on his back.  But the question of objects close to the body isn't raised.  From this point on witnesses start reporting their sightings of these other objects.

The fact that neither counsel raised the matter of the bottle and other objects has led to intense speculation that these were added to the scene once the searchers had headed back down the track.  I don't know about that, it's possible I suppose that the shock of viewing a dead body concentrated their visual attention purely on the body to the exclusion of all else although with cap, bottle, knife and watch all close by it would be surprising if none of this is registering with the searchers.  So are the two counsel being negligent in not raising the matter of the bottle, etc?

Moving on to DC Coe's evidence and the bottle makes its first appearance.  This is the exchange between Mr Knox and DC Coe:

Q. Did you see a bottle?  
A. I did, a water -- a small water bottle. I think that was the left-hand side of the body as  well, towards the top left-hand shoulder.
Q. Was there any water in the bottle?
A. I could not tell you.

This is the testimony of paramedic Vanessa Hunt:

Q. Right. And did you see anything on the ground? 
A. There was a silver bladed knife, a wristwatch, which was off of the wrist.
Q. Yes.
A. And, oh, a water bottle, a small water bottle stood up to the left side of Dr Kelly's head.

This is the relevant exchange when ambulance technician Dave Bartlett is questioned:

Q. Did you see any items next to the body?
A. Yes, to the left side above just where the arm was, there was a wristwatch, a silver knife with a curved blade and a bottle of water.
Q. And the bottle of water, was that empty or full or --
A. I think it was empty.
Q. Was it upright or can you remember? 

A. Yes, it was upright.

PC Franklin's evidence:

Q. Did you see whether or not there was a watch or anything on the body?
A. If I may refer to my notes?
Q. Yes, of course.
A. The wrist watch was lying away from the body, next to a knife. The wrist watch was just to the  left of the left arm, with the knife next to it, and also there was an open bottle of water at the scene.

Q. An open bottle of water?
A. Yes, the wrist watch was off the wrist.
Q. What, mineral water?
A. A bottle of, yes, mineral water, a plastic bottle.
Q. How large was that bottle, a big bottle or a small one?
A. A small one.

PC Sawyer's evidence:

 Q. Did you see a bottle of water?
 A. I did, by Dr Kelly's head. There was an open bottle of  Evian, 500 ml or 300 ml bottle, with the cap by the side of it, by his head.

 Q. Was it upright?
 A. It was leaning slightly. It had been propped but it was upright. There was still some water in it

And now here is Dr Hunt's evidence:

 Q. Did you notice a bottle of water?
 A. Yes, there was a bottle of Evian water, half a litre.  
 Q. Was there any water in that bottle?
 A. Yes, there was some remaining water. I do not recall  what volume exactly.
Q. Can you remember precisely where the bottle was in
  relation to the bottle?
 A. Yes, it was lying propped against some broken branches  to the left and about a foot away from his left elbow.
 Q. And did you notice anything in particular about the bottle?
A. Yes, there was some smeared blood over both the bottle itself and the bottle top.
Q. Did that indicate anything to you? 

A. It indicated that he had been bleeding whilst at least placing the bottle in its final position. He may  already have been bleeding whilst he was drinking from it, but that is less certain.

So, after conflicting evidence from early witnesses about the presence of water in the bottle, the forensic pathologist has given positive evidence of some water still in it.  Regrettably he can't remember the volume.

Dr Allan, the toxicologist, had this exchange with counsel:

 Q. Was there anything which shed further light on your conclusions or was it simply confirmatory?
 A. It was confirmatory. What I also did was I looked at the water which was found at the scene, or the contents of the water bottle that was found at the scene.
 Q. What did you find in that?
 A. I found traces of dextropropoxyphene in that.    Presumably that would come from someone contacting the  bottle with saliva in the bottle. We did not find  anything else of note in there. It may be that  paracetamol was in there as well but the tests are not sensitive enough to detect the traces of paracetamol
  that may have been present.

It's worth looking at Dr Allan's first answer hereDo we assume that Dr Allan received the water at the laboratory minus the bottle and that he was cautious enough not to definitively say that the water tested was necessarily that in the Evian bottle? 

A fact that initially concerned me was the statements made by early witnesses about the position of the bottle in relation to the body - it seemed an unnatural body movement would be called for to place the bottle so far up in relation to the body position, a location close to his left hip would have made more sense.  Note too the proximity of the bottle cap to the bottle.  However imagine for a moment Dr Kelly sitting with his back against the tree, now we have the bottle and its top in a far more logical and comfortable position.  My conjecture is that Dr Kelly's body was moved forward from the tree after the two searchers and their dog had safely disappeared down the track but that the bottle and its top weren't moved in a commensurate way.  I'm not saying this scenario is correct but this is the best I can do at the moment.

The majority of those people reckoning that Dr Kelly committed suicide postulate that Dr Kelly took 29 coproxamol tablets as part of this process.  This seems to be based on the fact that  two constituents that occur in the tablets were found in the body combined with the fact that only one tablet was left from a potential 30 in number.  Their logic is 29 tablets missing from the blister packs equates to 29 being willingly ingested by Dr Kelly.  This reasoning is of course erroneous and I'm going back to the Evian bottle to show how shaky their so called logic is.

Coproxamol tablets aren't particularly small, being about half an inch long I understand.  From statements made by Mai Pederson, not denied so far as I am aware, Dr Kelly not only had an aversion to tablets but had difficulty in swallowing them.  From this I would suggest that he would have not been able to cope with more than one at a time.  We don't know how much water was left in the bottle but to make the maths easy I am going to assume the bottle was drained.  Take a glass tumbler and pour in water to a quarter of an inch depth.  It's not very much at all is it.  Yet if Dr Kelly did take 29 tablets we are invited to accept that it was just this very small amount of water that was available per tablet.  This of course assumes that he was skillful enough to apportion the same amount of water for each.

It can be seen from what I have just written that it is highly unlikely that Dr Kelly would have taken only a half litre of water with him to deal with up to 30 tablets.  Even someone without any impediment to swallowing would I think only be able to down 5 or 6 with that amount of water.  The suggestion that Dr Kelly somehow managed to swallow 29 tablets is, in my opinion, a total nonsense.      


Thursday, 4 November 2010

A blog I would highly recommend concerning Dr Kelly

 I wrote my third post on this blog (which you can read here) on 28 September.  In it I highlighted a couple of very useful sources of information regarding Dr Kelly's death and if they hadn't existed I doubt that my blog would have happened.  Just to recap then: I mentioned Norman Baker's book "The Strange Death of David Kelly" - even though Norman was very opposed to the Iraq war of 2003 and couldn't be described as Tony Blair's most fervent fan he attempted, and I think largely succeeded, in writing a balanced record of the events around Dr Kelly's death.  With a useful and comprehensive index it's never far away when this blog is being updated.

The other inspirational reading resource was this blog written by Rowena Thursby.  Although suffering considerable health problems Rowena was determined to shine a light on the doubts and inconsistencies that surrounded the official version of events relating to David Kelly's death. The Kelly Investigation group was formed  in which other people with grave doubts about the official line could share their concerns.  The group included doctors, names subsequently becoming more familiar in some of the letters to the Press.

There are, or have been, other blogs on the internet relating to Dr Kelly apart from many individual articles.  One frustration with these is that so many of them are just vehicles for their owners to voice their ill considered and poorly researched thoughts on the David Kelly business.  But that is the internet for you I suppose.  I felt desperate to record my own ideas and try, if possible, to create a blog that was unbiased and that was as accurate to fact as I could make it.

I've recently discovered another blogger that is taking the Sherlock Holmes approach.  He is Dr Andrew Watt and this his blog.  Andrew is taking a very keen interest in the detail surrounding Dr Kelly's death.  He is ferociously forensic in his analysis and earlier today posted an article that very clearly points out a significant difference between what the forensic pathologist Dr Hunt wrote in his report of the 25th July 2003 and said at the Hutton Inquiry less than two months later on the 16th September.

I had thought about doing a separate post to summarise what Andrew wrote but it is a brilliantly incisive piece and needs to be read as a whole.  It is here.   

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A comment or two on Dr Hunt's Report

Now that the dust has settled a bit since the publication on the internet of the report by forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt into Dr Kelly's death I'll make one or two comments.  The first thing to say is that as far as the purely medical side of things are concerned I didn't find anything surprising. Having read Dr Hunt's quite detailed testimony at the Hutton Inquiry and been aware of the comments he had been making in the media a little while prior to the publication it would be amazing if I was suddenly shocked.  At Hutton Dr Hunt reeled off his conclusions and they appear to match the written words.  What we have in the report of course is much more anatomical detail but all I can say here is that it doesn't mean much to me.

To the uninformed person the plethora of individual actions couched in medical terms suggests that here is a man on top of his job doing a thorough examination.  But was this the case?  So far as the technical side is concerned we need an expert in forensic pathology to go through the report with a fine tooth comb to see whether all the actions that might have been carried out were in fact carried out.  Notwithstanding the fact that I don't have a medical background there are some matters I want to comment on.

The first of these isn't medical at all in fact.  It concerns a statement made by Dr Hunt in his preamble to carrying out the examination on the afternoon and early evening of the 18th.  Before considering that I will just mention for completeness that Dr Hunt states he approached the inner cordon via a farm track and field.  He was logged into this inner cordon at 12.04.  I'm fairly sure that the farm track is the one running almost parallel and slightly west of the track that searchers and ambulance crew had used earlier that day and would imagine looking at Google Earth that the field is the substantial one that extends to the north of the wood.  This is what you will have seen in all those media reports.  A number of people judging by what I've read on the internet are under the illusion that the white tent in the pictures is covering Dr Kelly's body.  This is not so, the white tent was a place where anyone having to make notes could go to if it started to rain.

Before the examination started Dr Hunt was given some background information by scenes of crime officer (SOCO) Mark Schollar.  Dr Hunt notes in his report that Dr Kelly was apparently seen heading for a walk at approximately 1500 hours on the 17th and subsequently seen at 1530 hours walking northwards.  If Mr Schollar had been told these two "facts" it suggests to me a certain degree of chaos in the police service that morning because neither of the sightings were verified by the evidence presented at the Inquiry.  Mrs Kelly had deduced that her husband left for his walk between about 3 o'clock and 3.20 but she didn't actually see him set out and there was nobody else so far as we know who had.  Neighbour Ruth Absalom had met him when she was walking her dog but she intimated her belief at the Inquiry that Dr Kelly had taken the road towards Kingston Bagpuize which is east from where she and Dr Kelly met.  It was earlier that morning that DC Coe had fortuitously seen Ms Absalom and one assumes that DC Coe would have relayed this important piece of information to his superiors at an early opportunity.

Turning to matters of a medical nature now we have something I find quite extraordinary and that is the fact that Dr Hunt didn't observe Dr Kelly's rectal temperature until 7.15 in the evening just a few minutes before leaving the site.  It has become relatively common knowledge I think that the sooner this temperature is taken the better (it has to be noted at the same time as the outside or ambient temperature).  Why?  It's a prime indicator of time of death because of course the body is cooling after life functions cease and, using tables, the pathologist is able to give a time window in which he considers death occurred.  The sooner this is done the tighter the time window so one would imagine that the pathologist would make this an early task.       

Officially this was an "unexplained death" on that Friday but had the police already made up their minds that this was a tragic suicide.  If a suicide then time of death although important would be far less critical than that of a murder because the police wouldn't be looking at third party involvement in the death - well only to the point that the actions of a third party could have driven a person to commit suicide (I'm talking in general rather than specific terms now).  Back to Dr Kelly and if his death was still in the "unexplained" category I would have thought that the police on site would have been hounding Dr Hunt to try and get an answer as to time of death.  In the end Dr Hunt came to a time of death between 16.15 on the 17th and 01.15 on the 18th a very wide band of some nine hours.

In fact we don't know whether Dr Kelly died on the 17th or the 18th of July.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Claptrap from the Mainstream Media

I have indicated before on this blog that I don't have a very high regard for the mainstream media (MSM), yes there may be the odd occasion when they get it right but in my mind it tends to be the exception rather than the rule.  There is no doubt that significant numbers of people will have had their minds made up as to the cause of Dr Kelly's death following the release of the Forensic Pathologist's report and Toxicologist's report on the internet on the 21st October.   The presentation of these releases by the MSM in newspaper, radio or TV format could very easily influence the conclusions reached by the reader, listener or viewer.  Factual reports in the press ought to be fine although even these can lead the reader away from what should be totally non committal by the subtle use of headlines for instance.

Where I get particularly irate though is in the way certain commentary pieces are written with a total lack of objectivity.  In fact they are often just strewn with rubbish and what were once considered to be the quality papers are as guilty of this if not more so than the "popular press".  I'll just flag up a couple of examples, one in the Telegraph and one in the Guardian, that followed the recent release of the documents mentioned earlier and they demonstrate all too clearly in my view how impoverished their writers are in the opinions expressed.

So let's look at the Telegraph piece first, written by one Andrew Gilligan (remember him?).  His offering can be read here.  You will see, if you didn't know already, that Gilligan is firmly in the "it was suicide" camp.  That's fine, even though I'm leaning more and more toward the belief that Dr Kelly was murdered I'm very happy to engage with anyone with an opposite view providing they are presenting some sort of sensible, coherent argument.  Gilligan I'm afraid is coming out with rubbish.

"The only other wounds visible at all were superficial abrasions to the head and minor bruising to the limbs – consistent, says the report, with scraping against rough undergrowth (presumably as his body was removed)."  This is just one statement of his that got my blood pressure rising.  Think about it for a moment.  What Gilligan seems to be implying here is that Dr Kelly's body was manhandled through the undergrowth to the waiting hearse when it arrived at Harrowdown Hill on the Friday evening prior to its journey to the mortuary slab.  Are we supposed to take Gilligan seriously?  The undertakers would have walked into the wood with a coffin and gently lifted the body into it.  This is what undertakers do for God's sake!

"What this week’s report does do, however, is show the murder theory to be even more absurd and fantastic than it already was. For Dr Kelly to be killed, it would have needed someone to force 29 pills down his throat, making him swallow them without protest."  Another piece of nonsense from Gilligan!  As with all the "suiciders" it's a case of 29 tablets missing - therefore 29 tablets were ingested by Dr Kelly.  Let me spell it out: there is no incontrovertible proof that Dr Kelly ingested 29 co-proxamol tablets.  All we can safely say at the moment is that evidence was found of the two constituents that make up co-proxamol being in the body.  This is very different from what Gilligan is saying.  Much more from me on another day about the tablets.

There are other examples where his logic can be knocked down but I'll leave the reader with an open mind to consider them.  I now want to have a quick look at what Vikram Dodd wrote in the Guardian.  The headline is "The experts are clear on how David Kelly died" and immediately underneath we read "Not a single forensic pathologist has challenged the conclusions of the Hutton inquiry".  The implication clearly is that these two statements are two sides of the same coin - that they are effectively saying the same thing.  Now I realise that when a reporter sends his or her copy in someone else will conjure up a headline.  In this instance we are talking about commentary that appeared a few days later.  I would have thought that Dodd would have written this headline or at least agreed with it.  It took me all of a millisecond I would think to realise the incompatibility of the two statements.

Let's delve a little deeper into what Dodd is saying.  It's here.  His piece appears to be built around the premise that as none of this country's forensic pathologists have criticised Dr Hunt's findings then obviously the suicide verdict is correct.  Now we are led to assume that the experts (implied meaning; other forensic pathologists) are "clear" about something because they have never commented on it!  No logic there whatsoever so a poor start indeed Mr Dodd. There aren't many of these forensic pathologists about - I don't have a figure to hand but understand it's less than 50 - so I would be amazed if in that sort of profession one would break ranks and carp about Dr Hunt when that would suggest incompetency.  Like me these other forensic pathologists weren't at Harrowdown Hill so somewhat difficult for them to suggest that Dr Hunt was coming to the right conclusions.  I mean if one had commented who would you believe a forensic pathologist trying to protect the name of his profession or an ambulance crew well experienced in observing the aftermath of arterial bleeds.  Yet Dodd is intimating that the silence of other forensic pathologists is indicative of a correct deduction by Dr Hunt.  What planet is Dodd on?  And Gilligan come to that.   It's absolutely ridiculous - to use a familiar phrase "you couldn't make it up!"