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!