Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Mr Green - the little evidence he gave at the Inquiry

In my last post I had lamented the fact that no evidence from the 50 or so lab tests referred to by the forensic biologist had entered the public domain.  I wouldn't have necessarily expected Mr Green to have supplied the detail of every individual test but at the minimum some sort of overview of the test results should have come out.

Anyway there are a few bits and pieces worth noting from what was generally sketchy evidence from Mr Green at the Inquiry.  Mr Dingemans asking the questions, this extract gives some context regarding Mr Green's presence at Harrowdown Hill:

Q. When you arrived at the body, what did you do?
A. Well, basically the start of it is just to have a look and see -- just to take it all in and make notes and measurements and try to get some sense of what could have happened.
Q. How long were you doing that for?
A. It was sort of a gradual process. As I say, I arrived at just gone 2 and left at about 7, so it was quite a while. But during that time I will have gone back to the original tent, the changing tent, to report what I was seeing to DCI Young.
Q. Yes.
A. And to make arrangements for toxicology work that needed to be done.
Q. How long were you on the scene for that day?
A. In total, from just gone 2 until 7, so just short of five hours.

A couple of points here before moving on: a mention of the shadowy DCI Young who didn't give evidence at the Inquiry, we would have expected his presence at HH of course and we know he attended the post-mortem at Oxford late in the evening and extending into the early hours of Saturday morning (a long days work for him then).  The other thing I have to say is that Mr Green's presence for nearly as long as that of Dr Hunt slightly mitigates the criticism that I've read of there not being two pathologists examining Dr Kelly.  Having said that his discipline is different from that of a forensic pathologist even if there is overlap in places.

There is a section of evidence from Mr Green about his observation of "arterial rain" on nettles which were close to the left hand side of Dr Kelly's body.  We are not told how close unfortunately.  I'm not going to quote the relevant part of the evidence because it has been reproduced and superbly analysed on the blogs of both Rowena Thursby and Dr Andrew Watt.  The links to the posts made by Rowena and by Andrew are here:

Why didn't Dr Hunt make any remark about the arterial rain in his report?  He was working closely with Mr Green that afternoon and if he didn't spot the blood on the nettles surely Mr Green would have remarked on it.   Just possibly the lack of arterial rain elsewhere might have been seen as a dent in his suicide theory so best not to mention it.  Of course it does just that and the arterial rain distribution is more suggestive in my opinion of someone else holding Dr Kelly's arm to make the incisions.

We now move on to the question of how much blood was at the scene and witness this exchange:

Q. We have heard from some ambulance personnel, and they said they were not specifically looking, for obvious reasons, at the distribution of blood but they noted,  just on their brief glance, not very much blood. What  were your detailed findings?
A. Well, there was a fair bit of blood.

LORD HUTTON: There was -- I beg your pardon?
A. A fair bit of blood, my Lord. The body was on leaf litter, the sort of detritus you might find on the floor of a wood, which is -- and that is very absorbent, so although it may not have appeared to them there was that much blood, it would obviously soak in.
MR DINGEMANS: A bit like blotting paper in some respects?
A. Yes.

Here I want to clarify the distinction between leaf litter and leaf mould.  The latter according to my dictionary is "soil composed chiefly of decaying leaves", the sort of stuff you might shovel up to put on your garden.  I'm very familiar with leaf mould where I live in the damp south west and if there was a lot of this at Harrowdown Hill then it is conceivable that blood could have soaked into it as suggested.  However the evidence is that leaf mould at our location was absolutely minimal - we are talking about high summer not late autumn, if there was substantial leaf mould then footprints would have been evident and I have a pretty good idea of the nature of the woodland floor from photos I've seen.

Mr Green, correctly I believe, refers to leaf litter, in other words loose undecayed leaves strewn across the ground.  Geologically Harrowdown Hill consists of hard, well nigh impermeable, Oxford clay.  I do not necessarily believe that the leaf litter was absorbent in the way claimed.  Later claims made about blood soaking into the ground have no factual basis and neither Mr Green nor Dr Hunt have provided a shred of evidence to support any contention about blood loss into leaf litter or into the ground.

Notice it was Mr Dingemans who helpfully provided Mr Green with the blotting paper comparison to give the evidence a little more weight.  Mr Dingemans was particularly proud of the blotting paper reference I'm sure because in his Closing Statement on the 25th September he says this about Mr Green:

 He identified the blood, the stains on the clothing and the blood on the leaves, which had acted in part as blotting paper.

Mr Dingemans revisits the vegetation close to Dr Kelly's body:

Q. Did you examine the vegetation around the body?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you form any conclusions from that examination?
A. Well, the blood staining that was highest from the ground was approximately 50 centimetres above the ground. This was above the position where Dr Kelly's left wrist was, but most of the stainings were 33 centimetres, which is approximately a foot above the ground. It was all fairly low level stuff.
Q. What does that mean?
A. It meant that because the injury -- most of the injuries would have taken place while Dr Kelly was sitting down or lying down.

As with so much of the testimony gathered at the Hutton Inquiry this is unsatisfactory.  Earlier evidence had discussed the arterial rain on the nettles on Dr Kelly's left.  So what was the vegetation displaying stainings which were about 12 to 20 inches above the ground?  Is in fact the stainings in this evidence the same as the arterial rain in the earlier evidence.  Why was the earlier "arterial rain" and later "staining" evidence separated?

We now move on to the contact blood stain on the right knee of Dr Kelly's jeans.  I'm not going to dwell on this but Mr Green assumes that Dr Kelly must have knelt in a pool of blood.  Vanessa Hunt had described it as a small patch on his right knee, her colleague Dave Bartlett said it 'was a bloodstain about 25 mm across'.  Mr Green, without giving a measurement, describes it as a large contact bloodstain.  If I hadn't had access to the evidence of the ambulance crew and relied on what Mr Green said about kneeling etc I would have been under the impression that the whole of the right knee was soaking in blood.  PC Sawyer had also noticed the blood on the right knee so it was significant enough to note but from what I have previously written perhaps not so dramatic as made out by Mr Green.  At the moment I can't offer a fresh explanation of why the contact stain was there but certainly it's something to think about.

The one other thing in Mr Green's evidence I want to put into this post is Mr Green's explanation about the smeared blood on the Evian water bottle and its cap.  Mr Green contends that Dr Kelly drank some water while the blood was flowing because he needed to replenish the liquid in his body from the loss of blood.  From a medical standpoint alone I wouldn't argue about that but I suggest reading my open letter to the Attorney General which refers to Mr Green's explanation of this point    


  1. I think leaf litter would be even less likely than leaf mould in mid July.
    Most of the "stainings (as you rightly say, not arterial rain) were at 33 centimetres ..above the ground"
    33 centimetres????
    Nettles will be a recurring plant,so it would not be difficult to return to the exact tree, as found by Norman Baker, and notice whether or not there is lush nettled vegetation rising above 50cm in mid July.

  2. Felix, I imagine your incredulity is about the exactness of the 33 centimetres when you would think he would say the more approximate 30 centimetres in this particular context! Other than the stenographer mishearing what Mr Green said I can't explain the figure. It's also possible that "3" having been hit once it was hit again by mistake.
    I was much more impressed by the professionalism of the ambulance crew than that of either Mr Green or Dr Hunt. Despite being "on site" for only 5 to 10 minutes for instance Dave Bartlett recalled the relatively modest size of the contact stain on DK's jeans (about 25 mm). Despite being at the Hill for almost 5 hours and supposedly taking measurements during that time Mr Green talks in generalities about a large contact stain. As he is putting forward a theory about DK kneeling in blood you would have thought he would have told the Inquiry the size of the contact stain. Unless of course he was hoping for greater impact by saying 'large' rather than '25mm'!

  3. In regards to the bloodstain on the knee, maybe we should consider the possibility that it was from an injury to the knee seeping out rather than to having knelt in blood. The bruising to the knees may have in fact caused an abrasion which was then downplayed as were the 3 "minor abrasions or grazes" to his scalp and the abrasion to the inner lower lip, indications maybe that Dr Kelly was indeed assaulted or at least manhandled. Autopsy fotos would of course clarify the nature of these minor abrasions...

  4. That's an interesting suggestion about maybe the blood was seeping out. When Vanessa Hunt and Dave Bartlett gave an interview to the Observer the former stated the bloodstain was ABOVE the right knee. In Dr Hunt's report he states that the right leg of the jeans was pulled up slightly (the left trouser leg more so) so it is possible that the stain is at knee level if Dr Kelly is standing up.

    To be kneeling in his blood the bloodstain has to be below the knee in my opinion. It's possible that Mr Green felt he had to come up with some explanation and kneeling in a pool of blood was all he could think of. But I don't believe that explanation for a moment.