Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Dr Hunt, 'broken branches' and the blue scene tent

You read relevant parts of the Hutton website, you read Dr Hunt's report, you are familiar with at least some of the press reporting and a few related websites and think you have it all firmly in mind.  And then (in my case anyway) you are slightly surprised to find that Dr Hunt's published report makes no reference to the tree which the volunteer searchers describe as the tree that Dr David Kelly was slumped against or sitting against.  Mind you Dr Hunt in mentioning 'some broken branches' could be said to have made an arboreal reference of a sort; however the possibility of Dr Kelly leaning against the tree to take his pills or to start his wrist cutting prior to laying down to die doesn't seem to be considered in Dr Hunt's suicide scenario.

What about these broken branches then?  In Dr Hunt's report, and under 'adjacent scene', we have this sentence: Lying propped against some broken branches, and about 1' from his left elbow was an open bottle of Evian water (500mls). Because, as described by Dr Hunt the left  upper arm was in line with the shoulders, the bottle and hence the 'broken branches' were very close to Dr Kelly's head, and other witness statements confirm this bottle location.  The thing that strikes me as odd is that I think that Dr Hunt is the only witness to mention the 'broken branches'.  There is a lot of evidence of Dr Hunt's casual use of the English Language and I feel that this is one example.  We are talking here of broken branches (plural I notice) which can't be more than a very few feet from the trunk of a large tree.  I would have expected branches, if they came from this tree, to be further away from the trunk.  My suspicion is that the 'broken branches' referred to is fairly inconsequential twiggy stuff  but I get the impression that Dr Hunt would use the word 'branch' to describe anything from the largest bough to an odd bit of brushwood.

Away from the wording of the report lets go to the Inquiry where Mr Knox questions Dr Hunt about the body position:

MR KNOX: Could you describe the position of the body at the scene?
A. Yes, certainly. He was laying on his back near a tree. The left arm was extended out from the body slightly, closer to shoulder level, his right arm was laying across his chest area and his legs were extended out straight in front of him.
Q. I take it from what you just said he was laying on his back?
A. He was, yes.
Q. Was any part of his body actually touching the tree; can you recall? 

A. I recall that his head was quite close to branches and so forth, but not actually over the tree.

Well, at least the tree gets a mention here!  But look at his last answer.  When Dr Hunt says 'branches and so forth' what exactly is the 'so forth'.  In this particular context we don't know whether the branches are anything to do with this tree, some other tree, recently fallen branches, old decayed branches, how big they are.  'Not actually over the tree' is not clear enough either, why didn't he give an indication of how far from the tree the head was?  It's not satisfactory.

Just a thought or two about the blue scene tent which Dr Hunt stated had been erected by the time he and Mr Green crossed the inner cordon at approximately 14.10.  I would be fascinated to know how large this tent was - I suspect that it might have been the size of a small marquee.  It would have to have been roomy enough for Dr Hunt and A N Other to move around in it, to undress the body, do the swabbing and examine the body in detail.  The knife, watch, cap and water bottle with its cap were all close to the body and would be within the tent.  What about the stinging nettles with the blood on them?  One thing seems certain and that is that Mr Green didn't see the "bigger picture" before tent erection, that might not necessarily have inhibited him but I think it's possible that the edge of the tent might have obscured possible evidence.  it's a pity that Mr Green couldn't have been on site prior to the tent going up.

The positioning of the body away from the tree would have permitted the tent to totally enclose the body I reckon.  Perhaps that is why the body was thoughtfully moved earlier that day, to permit a scene tent to be erected.  I jest.  The fingertip search that took place after the corpse was removed took I think a little over 20 minutes with a fresh team of searchers; this suggests to me that the taped of area where Dr Kelly had lain was reasonably large.

I might have missed some other reference to the 'broken branches'.  If I did I hope someone will correct me!


  1. Brian,

    Please don't jest.....if the body had been lying as some witnesses described, slumped against a tree, then the erection of this tent would not have been possible without cutting down the tree or moving the body. It is as simple as that.
    These tents, like any other tent-like structure do NOT lend themselves to being erected around trees.
    It would have been necessary to get Dr Kelly's head inside the tent for obvious reasons and it would have been desirable for there to have been room between Dr Kelly's head and the tent wall for the pathologist to work.
    So unless we are to beleive they erected a tent with Dr kelly's head sticking out one end then the body would have to have been moved into the tent after it was erected or moved prior to the tents erection.
    Do we have any witnesses as to when the blue tent arrived? Did it arrive with the white one they erected in the adjacent field?
    Did all this tent erecting and body moving then take place before Dr Hunt arrived?
    As for the question of branches lying on the ground in the wood...yes there were branches on the ground when I visited the wood, mostly small and pretty decayed ones.


  2. Frank - I assume that Dr Hunt at least was able to take in the whole scene before the blue tent was erected because in his report he says 'By the time I returned to the immediate scene a scene tent had been erected over the deceased'. This follows his statement about being logged back in at 14.10 (with Mr Green).

    Frustratingly we have this time gap between 12.35 when he confirmed death up until 14.10 without knowing what use was made of that 1 hr 35 minutes by Dr Hunt. We know from PC Sawyer that the fingertip search didn't get underway until 13.08, PC Franklin having been instructed to do this by DCI Young at 12.50 (that 18 minute delay has been attributed to paperwork which I can well believe!)

    I wonder if DCI Young's early discussion with Dr Hunt (soon after his arrival) helped lean him toward a suicide explanation!

  3. Brian, ACC Page talks about undergrowth around the body.
    "What was he [Mr Green] doing? We will hear in detail from him.
    A. Essentially he was looking at the undergrowth around Dr Kelly's body.
    Q. For what?
    A. For blood splashing.

    Well, there wasn't much detail in Mr Green's report.

    I have always worried about the blue tent. Might it not have been a trifle dim in a blue tent in a wood for millimetre (actually square millimetre) searches of skin? Was a generator or large battery connected to powerful lights on site? I can't believe torches would have sufficed.

    I'm not clear what over the tree means. The only thing over the tree that day was probably the helicopter.

  4. By the way, this is what Mr Hunt writes in the conclusion of his on-line report
    "The minor abrasions over the head are entirely consistent with scraping against rough undergrowth such as the small twigs, branches and stones which were present at the scene "
    I fail to see how this could have happened without the intervention of other parties. But over the head?? What, all over it?

  5. Felix, I'm assuming that the last hour and a half or so of time spent by Dr Hunt (and Mr Green?) at Harrowdown Hill was the very detailed look at the body. This is not actually spelt out but but from Dr Hunt's report I think it is a reasonable deduction. If one is looking for puncture marks etc then surely a break of half an hour while the body is transferred to Oxford isn't going to hurt. Dr Hunt would have to have been on his hands and knees in the tent. The lack of light in the tent is also a very relevant question, the presence of artificial lighting in the tent would have made Dr Hunt's job very cumbersome with restricted space.

    At any inquest Dr Hunt needs to be asked if he made the minute body examination and if so where. I can't see any justification at all for this to be done at HH and every reason for it to be done at the mortuary!

    Regarding your second comment I think it again illustrates Dr Hunt's mangled use of the English Language. I don't think he meant all over the head, it's the same with the phrase 'over the tree'. A forensic pathologist's evidence should leave absolutely no room for doubt as to meaning. I'm afraid when it comes to clarity Dr Hunt's performance is nowhere near good enough.

  6. The disturbing truth is that the crime scene was interfered with and the police were either aware or participated.

    The various videos and photographs of the scene will offer ample evidence. Dominic Grieve has had access to that evidence and yet is still blocking a legally required inquest.

    Dominic Grieve has no power to order an inquest, all he can do is block a request from going to the High Court but he can't do that forever. I suspect that, soon, an application will go before the Courts for an inquest and citing the Attorney General as being an obstacle to justice.

    This shameful episode in British history really needs to come to an end and those responsible for conspiring to pervert the course of justice need to be put on trial and then punished.

  7. Perhaps it was a coded message from an "under orders" Mr Hunt about Special Branch personnel at the site!

  8. QUOTE FROM LANCASHIRE LAD: "This shameful episode in British history really needs to come to an end and those responsible for conspiring to pervert the course of justice need to be put on trial and then punished."

    I thoroughly agree but will believe it when I see it. Pigs might fly and all that ........