Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Consideration for higher honours

This post is to cover something that appears relatively minor compared with many of the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Christopher Kelly CMG but while it's in my mind I want to cover it.  I am not very knowledgeable about letters that go after people's names but evidently CMG is the Cross of St Michael and St George.

On 11th August at the inquiry Mr Dingemans examines Terence Taylor by video link from Australia.  Now Mr Taylor's name wasn't familiar to me but at the time of giving his evidence he describes himself as:

the president and executive director for the International Institute of Strategic Studies US, which is based in Washington DC.

Mr Taylor has warm words for Dr Kelly and in the course of hearing his testimony Mr Dingemans reads out the text of the citation relating to the award of the CMG:

"... he devised the scientific basis for the enhanced biological warfare defence programme and led strong research groups in many key areas. Following the Gulf War he led the first biological warfare inspection in Iraq and has spent most of his time since either in Iraq or at various sites in the former Soviet Union helping to shed light on past biological warfare related activities and assisting the UK/US RUS trilateral confidence building process. He has pursued this work tirelessly and with good humour despite the significant hardship, hostility and personal risk encountered during extended periods of service in both countries. In 1991 he was appointed adviser to the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM). His efforts in his specialist field have had consequences of international significance."

Awarded in 1996 the recommendation would have been by the then Conservative Government led by John Major.

A restricted document lodged at the Inquiry  indicated that Dr Kelly's name had been suggested for a further honour in the New Years Honours List for 2004, the minute is dated 9 May 2003.  Mr Dingemans asks Mrs Kelly where she found the document:

Can you tell us where you found that?
A. Can you give me a bit more information about it?
Q. It is from Eric Mattey, Honour's Secretary, dated 9th May 2003.
A. Is this the one where it was scribbled at the top left-hand corner?
Q. Yes, there is some writing in the top right-hand corner

A. This is something we found in his filing cabinet a couple of weeks ago or so. It was headed -- this was a trawl for people to be on the New Year's Honours List.
Q. In 2004?
A. And scribbled in the top left-hand corner was: "How about David Kelly? Iraq is topical."
Q. Iraq being topical in handwriting. The note appears to be dated 14th May.
A. That is right.

Q. You found that, where do you say?
A. In his filing cabinet. There were a few files left after the police had been and taken what they needed.

Q. And did he discuss that with you at all?
A. No, he had not mentioned that. It was headed "confidential".

Apart from the fact that it seems like Mrs Kelly might be reading from a script the thing that strikes me first is that this document printed off a PDF file was left behind by the police and only discovered by the Kelly family a couple of weeks before, in other words about a month after Dr Kelly's death.

The other point I would highlight is why was it ever in the possession of Dr KellyHe wasn't on the circulation list and surely he shouldn't have had sight of something that was only a suggestion from an individual.  It's not normal civil service practice - suppose the recommendation was ignored, that would not do his morale any good.  A person I know who got an MBE was notified out of the blue about it, in no way forewarned.  My belief is that someone sympathetic towards Mrs Kelly perhaps wanted her to know that her husband's name was at least in the frame for a further award and sent the information to her some time after Dr Kelly's death.


  1. Brian.

    That is a fascinating document (page 1 is missing from the evidence, perhaps another covering note?) The date is pre-Gilligan. AT, incidentally, is the Cabinet Secretary, the predecessor of Gus O'Donnell, Sir Andrew Turnbull. Perhaps someone can identify the squiggle signature.
    I doubt the provenance of it, though , as given by Mrs Kelly,but your theory seems good.

    There award of the CMG in 1996, ahead of that of Sir Kevin Tebbit in 1997, seems completely out of place with the post-May 2003 descriptions of Dr Kelly as some insignificant harrassed junior official with line managers disciplining him and promotional and renumeration worries. It is as if (but I doubt it) his career stalled after 1996.
    Kevin Tebbit, on receipt of his CMG, went on to become deputy under-secretary of state for defence and intelligence, and a member of the joint intelligence committee (JIC). In January 1998 he became director at GCHQ, the government's secret listening post at Cheltenham. (for 6 months!)
    So, what did David Kelly become?

  2. PS

    Is those Tony Blair's initials, TB? (...Iraq being topical)
    Signature here

  3. Felix, I'm no handwriting expert but I would have thought the authorship was different. Your link is an interesting story though - it's fascinating to try and understand the thought processes of Mr and Mrs Blair!

  4. Just to highlight a point in Mrs Kelly's evidence: she incorrectly stated the document was marked "confidential" whereas it was "restricted", in reality an even stronger reason why it should have been picked up by the police when they did a document sweep at the Kelly home.

    Looking at the dates on the fax you can see just how late it went in to the Inquiry - sent on Friday 29 August and received on Monday 1st September, the morning Mrs Kelly gave evidence! When you look at the transcription on the Hutton website it's evident that when Mr Dingemans tries to get the thing on screen it doesn't work. Perhaps this is due to the late arrival and failure to make a copy in time.

    I am somewhat intrigued by the fact that Mrs Kelly's Solicitor sent it so late, did the solicitor only receive it from her on the 29th August I wonder.

  5. Brian,

    Janice Kelly's story is very fishy.

    The document appears to be classified "Restricted", a security classification above "Confidential".

    Thames Valley Police are, so I understand, supposed to have removed all and any classified documents.

    It seems to me that either Janice Kelly is lying or Thames Valley Police were incompetent in their search to remove classified documents.

  6. Regarding Andrew's comment above I see that he has a new post on his "Chilcot's Cheating Us" blog on this subject. He quotes the relevant text from the Inquiry (the exchanges between Mr Dingemans and Mrs Kelly) that cover the "Restricted" document. Worth reading.

    It is all very odd.

  7. The post about the "Honours letter" is here: The Death of David Kelly - Is Janice Kelly lying about the "Honours" letter?.

    The "Honours Letter" is, of course, only one of a number of issues on which it is reasonable to question the accuracy of Janice Kelly's evidence .