Sunday, 1 May 2011

Was Dr Kelly "a very shy, retiring guy"?

One of the difficulties for me in trying to unravel the mystery of Dr David Kelly's death is getting a real understanding of Dr Kelly's intricate personality.  Mrs Kelly, one might assume, would be well placed to help in this regard but is she?  This is her response to a question from Mr Dingemans at the Inquiry:

Q. What was the general attitude to his work? Did he believe he could make a difference?
A. He was quite modest about his work. He never boasted. In our many years together he was not a boasting man, he was a very shy, retiring guy and he just felt he could make a small difference. At an international level that really was quite enough for him. He felt that was a good place to be.

So there we have it "a very shy, retiring guy".

In his letter of 30 June 2003 to his line manager Bryan Wells Dr Kelly states he has met Andrew Gilligan.  Giving some background on his interaction with the media Dr Kelly includes this paragraph:

I have appeared on many British and foreign television programmes including Today, Panorama, Channel 4 News, Newsnight, ABC, CBS sixty minutes, CNN etc and I continue to get requests to do so.  Since September 11th I no longer talk to camera about Iraq and rarely on other issues.  All media requests are referred to James Paver of the FCO Press Office and most are now discouraged from approaching him by my stating that I doubted that it would be possible.

Add to this the fact that Dr Kelly was well experienced in addressing seminars and it becomes difficult to understand Mrs Kelly's description of him.

It is possible I suppose that outside his normal work environment Dr Kelly might have been a little shy although there seems to be little or no evidence to substantiate such an assertion.  With his high level of competence and love of his subject once inside his comfort zone of dealing with biological weapons etc then David Kelly seems to have been anything but "a very shy, retiring guy".   


  1. Brian,

    There is a vivid visual impression of David Kelly's capacity to deal with the media scrum beginning at about 33 seconds here: 2003: Widow tells Hutton Kelly felt 'betrayed'

    Click on the video link below the photo of Janice and Rachel Kelly.

    Additionally, he demonstrated a contemporary openness to inviting the media into his own home on 14th June 2003 here:
    Dr Kelly's Last Interview.

    His poise in front of the camera is obvious.

    If he's a "shy, retiring guy" then Janice Kelly uses words in ways which make little obvious sense to me.

  2. The personalities of some government scientists, in my experience, are tainted with a number of issues.

    Firstly they are incorrigible bores with egos the size of big things.

    When they have a "secret" they can only discuss it with a very select few. So they have a secret that they can't tell and that gives them a sense of satisfaction.

    Secondly they aren't very well paid compared with normal scientists and this causes a few problems.

    Thirdly and most importantly government scientists are crap at what they do. They don’t care about their science; they are only engrossed by their personal gratification and reward and deliver the findings of research that they are ordered to.

    That's the reason Tony Blair could throw 8000 of them on the scrap heap and give GWB's mates at Carlyle the keys to the sweet shop.

  3. To answer your question, Brian, is probably no. Very shy? Not if you read Rod Barton's account of him quietly facing down Dr Germ, Dr Rihab Al Alzawi Taha in the mid 90s such that she broke down and refused to deal with him face to face afterwards,only repling to written questions from him.

  4. Back in 2001 he was hardly a shrinking violet

  5. LancashireLad

    It's a shame we don't have the other 8 pages of his letter to Hilary Brown. This letter about Dr Kelly's pay and status gives a real insight into Dr Kelly the man that we seldom see. It's a good indication too of him being on top of his subject and being able to forcefully put across his point.