Did Mrs Kelly lie at the Hutton Inquiry? I imagine that among the Tom Mangolds and John Rentouls of this world I would be condemned for even mooting such a possibility. However the question does need to be asked I'm afraid.
This post isn't an all out attack on Janice Kelly - sure there are a lot of anomalies in her evidence but this piece is about one particular item in her 1 hour and 5 minutes of evidence on Monday 1st September. On Wednesday 9th July David Kelly's name was confirmed as the alleged informant in Andrew Gilligan's now infamous broadcast on the Today programme of 29th May. Mrs Kelly's testimony includes the decision of the couple to flee their home temporarily to avoid the Press who it appears were heading toward Southmoor. Fortunately Mrs Kelly knows somewhere they can go to in Cornwall to get out of the spotlight. They quickly pack that evening and drive west and break their journey by staying the night at a hotel in Weston-Super Mare. The next day she says they continue their journey on to Mevagissey, a traditional Cornish village on the south coast approximately midway between the east and west extremities of the county.
There are concerns about the integrity of the whole story of the visit to Cornwall but I won't dwell on them here, rather it is just a single piece of evidence from Mrs Kelly that can't be reconciled with another person's testimony. This is part of Mrs Kelly's questioning by Mr Dingemans relating to events following breakfast at the Weston-Super-Mare hotel:
Q. Did you set off anywhere?
A. Yes, we did. He made a few calls on his mobile in the garden of the hotel.
Q. Do you know who he was calling?
A. He was calling MoD, but I do not know who he spoke to.
Q. Do you know what was said? Did he report back?
A. No, he did not. He just said I was okay to continue down towards Cornwall.
Q. You did the packing?
A. I did my packing. He had already more or less done his own.
Q. There obviously was not that much to pack anyway?
A. No, there was not. He had a briefcase and we each had a small suitcase each.
Q. You set off down to Cornwall I think?
A. We did, yes.
Q. What time did you leave the hotel?
A. We left the hotel about 8.30, 8.45, that sort of time.
Q. What time did you get down to the place you were driving to in Cornwall?
A. That was about noon or just after.
Note the sentence He just said I was okay to continue down towards Cornwall. She says 'I was' not 'we were' which might be significant, almost suggesting that she was going on to Cornwall by train with perhaps her husband coming later.
Two days later at the Inquiry we have evidence from Mr "A" who we now know to have been Rod Godfrey, a UK chemical weapons expert. This is some of the testimony (Mr Dingemans asking the questions again):
Q. We have heard that he spent the night of the 9th July at a hotel in Weston-Super-Mare then, I think, travelled down on 10th July to Cornwall. Did he tell you that he was travelling anywhere?
A. It was slightly odd. He rang me on the morning of the10th to tell me he had the medication for me.
Q. What medication was this?
A. It was paladin, it is an anti-malarial medication.
Q. Who had given him that?
A. The doctor at RAF Honnington had given him the medication for the three of us who were about to deploy to Iraq on Friday. She had made a slight error in the prescription and was giving us some more.
Q. Right. And he rang you to say that he had the medication -- sorry, I interrupted.
A. Yes. He rang to say he had the medication and was quite happy to drop it off. This was quite odd. I was quite happy to travel the short distance to his home to pick it up. But he almost insisted he dropped it off. Within about half an hour to an hour he arrived at my house.
Q. Sorry to press you, whereabouts in Wiltshire? Can you give a town that you are near?
A. I am near Swindon.
LORD HUTTON: Was Mrs Kelly with Dr Kelly at this time, Mr A?
A. It is possible that she could have been in the car. I myself did not understand how the whole
Weston-Super-Mare/Cornwall trip works in the chronology. David had parked some distance from my house and walked 100 yards up the road to my house.
Q. Do you have a drive?
A. I am afraid not.
Q. Was 100 yards the closest he could park?
A. Yes, that is the problem.
Q. And how did he seem to you when you saw him on 10th July?
A. He was distracted. Our conversation would normally include a significant part relating to work, but he seemed to want nothing more than to have a cup of coffee and walk through my garden talking about the garden, so that is what we did.
Q. Was that usual behaviour for him?
A. It was not. I would characterise his behaviour as being somewhat distracted at this point; and he clearly did not want to talk much about work.
Q. Was that usual?
A. It was not. Our friendship was based partly on work but -- mostly on work, and really a large part of our meetings would consist of talking of matters of professional mutual concern.
Mr "A" clearly indicates that he doesn't understand how the chronology worked for that morning but, this being the Hutton Inquiry, the impossibility of the timeline isn't pursued further. And it is literally impossible to do the trip back to near Swindon from Weston-Super-Mare, stop for coffee and look around the garden, and then drive to the final destination in Cornwall, arriving 'about noon or just after'.
We are told that Mr "A" was off to Iraq the following day and have to assume that he was very clear about the fact that Dr Kelly saw him with the medication on the 10th. I cannot believe that he could have got this piece of evidence wrong or have any motivation for lying.
What of Mrs Kelly's evidence then. She had appeared at the Inquiry two days before and it would be reasonable to assume that she wouldn't know about the upcoming evidence from Mr "A" about Dr Kelly dropping off medication. It's possible in my view that she might have been angry and frustrated with the thought of backtracking in the direction they had come and this might have been a reason for her to "skip" the incident of going back to Swindon in her testimony. With her evidence taking over an hour to conclude the temptation to omit something that seemed fairly unimportant and with a bad memory might have been substantial. If she and her husband had exchanged words she might have felt somewhat embarrassed or ashamed about it and from her perspective the omission would have seen unimportant.
The problem now for her is that, seemingly being caught out not telling the truth about the arrival time in Cornwall, all of the rest of her evidence is under suspicion.
One final point: in his excellent book Norman Baker covers the visit to Mr "A" by Dr Kelly. Norman tries to make sense of the time taken by Dr Kelly to get to Mr "A"s home from W-S-M and finds it impossible to believe. Unfortunately he makes a couple of mistakes in his logic. Firstly he quotes Mr A as saying 'Within about an half an hour he arrived at my house' (from the phone call evidently) - the reality was Mr "A" saying 'Within about half an hour to an hour he arrived at my house' which is not the same! Secondly Norman Baker states Swindon is 62 miles from W-S-M and that the AA route planner estimates a journey time by road of 1 hour and 8 minutes. The AA route planner would surely take you from town centre to town centre, Mr "A" lives near Swindon, he could be within a couple of minutes of the M4 (which runs just south of Swindon) for all we know. I'm mentioning this just to show how easy it is for the investigator to make slight errors aided and abetted by his or her own prejudices. From my own experience I know the difficulty in being 100% factual and the discipline needed!