"Officially" Dr David Kelly's body was found just before 9.20 am on Friday 18th July 2003. From a Freedom of Information Request I had ascertained that the 999 call made by volunteer searcher Paul Chapman was at 9.20 that morning. In his evidence to the Inquiry he had stated that initially he had tried phoning control but that he got an answerphone response which led him then to try and get through to Abingdon via a treble nine call. From this it seems reasonable to me to state that the body was actually discovered between 9.15 and 9.20.
When ACC Page is examined by Mr Dingemans on his first visit to the Inquiry the 9.20 time comes into the public domain:
Q. We have also heard from them, Ms Holmes and Mr Chapman, how they came across the body. When did you hear about that?
A. I think within seconds of the information coming in to us but the time I have is that it was 9.20.
So that's fine then you would think. But is it?
Five police officers (unbelievably that's all) gave verbal evidence at the Hutton Inquiry. ACC Page has already been mentioned, as to DC Coe we get nothing definitive from him about the timing of events that morning other than he was called out at 6 am and, from his notebook, we glean that the ambulance crew confirmed at 10.07 that life was extinct. PC Franklin wasn't asked about the time of the call from Paul Chapman.
This leaves PC Sawyer and DS Webb to have their say. First PC Sawyer who has just stated: information came in that a body had been found
Then from Mr Knox and the reply:
Q. Can you remember what time it was that that information came in?
A. It would have been about 9 o'clock, I believe.
Immediately after PC Sawyer's evidence that morning Mr Dingemans takes over to examine Detective Sergeant Webb. It becomes evident that DS Webb makes a number of trips between Abingdon Police Station and the home of the Kelly's at Southmoor during the course of Friday !8th. This is the relevant part of the testiomony:
Q. How long did you stay at the house for?
A. I left the house at about 8 am to return to Abingdon police station, at that time to tell -- it was Assistant Chief Constable Page at that particular time, what the result of my inquiries were. I mean Dr Kelly's mood, the exact circumstances of his disappearance et cetera.
Q. How many police were searching at this stage, were you aware?
A. I could not say sir, I do not know.
Q. What time did you brief Assistant Chief Constable Page?
A. I got back to Abingdon I suppose about 8.30, immediately spoke to him for about 15 or 20 minutes, until really the news came in that a body had been found.
Q. What did you do as a result of that?
A. I was then tasked to go back to the Kelly family and to give them the news that it would seem that Dr Kelly had been found and that he was dead.
Taking half an hour to return to the police station from Southmoor might appear to be a long time but the journey would have been when commuters were on the go and such a time might well be realistic for that hour of the day. It's what follows that is particularly intriguing. Taking DS Webb at his word I cannot reconcile his evidence with the 999 call at 9.20. It would seem that the news of the body being found came in a little before 9 o'clock which ties in with the Sawyer evidence.
We now have to add in the fact that PCs Franklin and Sawyer took 3 police officers with them to act as cordons at Harrowdown Hill and that from a FoI request it is evident that an outer cordon was in place at 9.28.
I find it very difficult to believe that the 9.28 cordon was manned by anybody other than the police officers given a lift in the Franklin/Sawyer land rover. If this is the case then the two PCs must have left Abingdon soon after 9 o'clock.
This is yet more evidence of failure to sort things out at the Hutton Inquiry.