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.