Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Two men seen talking to Ruth Absalom

We have to be really grateful to LibDem MP Norman Baker for penning his book "The Strange Death of David Kelly". It isn't only the basic facts surrounding Dr Kelly's death that Norman investigates but in the almost 400 pages of the book he also relates various odd incidents that the mainstream media wouldn't be too bothered about. One of these involves Ruth Absalom who was the subject of an earlier piece by me and for convenience I'll deal with it now.

To summarise the account by Norman Baker (NB): a local reporter, Robert Wilkinson, was making enquiries around the village of Southmoor soon after the death of Dr Kelly was announced. While he was interviewing neighbours he noticed a car with two occupants who were also interested in interviewing people. The car was parked at 'The Wagon and Horses', the pub that is almost opposite the house where David and Janice Kelly lived. Amongst the locals they were talking to was Ruth Absalom who was the last person to speak to Dr Kelly so far as we are aware.

Fascinated by who the two men might be and with a journalist's nose Mr Wilkinson asked Ruth who the two men were. She told him that they had asked her many questions but as to their identity she wasn't able to say, the men having impressed upon her that she must not reveal who they were working for. Apparently she was most insistent that she couldn't say anything. The men still being there the reporter tapped on the car window and asked who they were working for. Laughing they answered "Thames Valley Police". Mr Wilkinson told NB that he somehow didn't think that was right, certainly they weren't in uniform.

Later that day, explaining he was a journalist, he phoned Thames Valley police asking if any officers had been out interviewing neighbours of the Kelly's. No they said and then Mr Wilkinson explained why he had posed the question. Two days later, and out of the blue, he gets a call from the police saying that they had made a mistake and that the occupants of the car and indeed the car itself were from their force. After relating this incident NB wonders if the call from the police was a way of shutting down the story. There will be other examples of strange behaviour by the Thames Valley Police to report on in due course.


  1. Hello Brian

    I can't say that I exactly see this as being an example of 'strange' behaviour by TVP. One must wonder how it was that Ms Absalom came to give evidence to Lord Hutton in the first place. Was it as a direct result of having initially spoken to these two officers in the first place? This is most likely, I would have to say. It may well have been that Mr Wilkinson contacted the police even before they fully assessed the findings of their initial enquiries in the village, and upon becoming aware of their incorrect statement to him sought to correct what would otherwise have been left outstanding as an on-the-record falsehood had they not done so. I would have though that actually investigating the incident would have taken precedence over assisting the press with their own enquiries but they did this very soon afterwards in any case. This probably gave them the necessary space and time to take a formal statement from Ms Absalom which IMO is only right and proper.

  2. Fair point ,Andrew. However I find it odder that they told Ruth Absalom not to divulge for whom they were "working". That seems a bit threatening to me. I don't see why helping police with their enquiries, a perfectly normal citizen's act, should be a secret.
    According to evidence given by DC Coe to Hutton, she had been identified from house to house searches on the Friday morning as someone who had met him the previous afternoon and that, as it turned out, she had probably been the last person to see or speak to him. Furthermore, it was she who gave an idea of where the two police officers ought to start searching initially. It seems quite reasonable that she should be a key witness at the Hutton Inquiry.

  3. Hi Felix

    I don't see it as odd that the police would have said something along the lines of 'please don't tell anyone that you've spoken to us', and that this has then been read by Norman Baker as being slightly more suspicious than it actually was.

    According to the book Mr Wilkinson thought they were not from TVP because they were not in uniform and for some other reason "were clearly not members of Special Branch either". Well, how many investigating officers wear uniform full time and how are SB detectives 'supposed' to look (in appearance I mean)?

    NB suggests that 'someone else' persuaded TVP to correct what they had previously told to Mr W and loosely implies that the officers weren't actually from TVP and that TVP created a fiction to cover up who they really were. I'm not going to retype the last sentence of p.207 here as I'm sure you have it anyway, but I think this is a stretch of the imagination just one step too far.

  4. Hello Andrew, and thank you for contributing to the conversation. One of my motivations for putting my thoughts into a blog is to allow others to get their feelings and theories into the mix. I wasn't going to reply to the specific points raised in your first comment because the response from Felix seemed to encapsulate my own thoughts.

    But having now read your second comment I think that there is something I would like to add. I would agree with you about the weakness re Robert Wilkinson (RW) thinking the two men in the car weren't from TVP. But remember as a local reporter he may have had frequent contacts with the police, particularly TVP. Perhaps it was some sort of journalistic sixth sense he had that made him doubt that they were who they said they were, maybe his view was coloured by the secrecy of their questioning of Ms Absalom. From where I am I just don't know.

    I'm still amazed though that they should demand that Ms Absalom not divulge who they were working for. Surely to quash possible rumours why not be totally open and allow it to be known that they were from TVP. This wouldn't occasion any surprise, in fact the inhabitants of Southmoor would want to know that their police force were looking into Dr Kelly's death. On the one hand the two men insisted Ms Absalom didn't divulge who they were working for but on the other openly said to RW "Thames Valley Police".

    Even allowing for the weakness in RW's account regarding his thoughts on the identities of the two men I still find the behaviour of the police in this incident quite strange.