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: