Wednesday, 15 June 2011

DC Coe's very brief statement in Annex TVP1

We have sight of at least part of a statement by DC Coe in Annex TVP1 in the bundle of documents lodged with the Attorney General.  For reference TVP1 can be accessed here

It will be seen that DC Coe's statement in the box area is exceptionally short.  From the list of documents on the Hutton website DC Coe's statement is the one at TVP/1/0030-0031 ie two pages.  The statement in TVP1 in the link I've given would be less than a full page but it has to be remembered that DC Coe was at the Kelly home on Saturday 19 July.  According to the interview he gave "The Mail on Sunday" of 8 August 2010 'several boxes' of files went back to the police station, 'where DC Coe spent three days examining them with an officer from Thames Valley Special Branch'.  All this enough to make up a two page statement perhaps.

I feel that the statement quoted is the full statement so far as Friday morning is concerned.  The first sentence gives it away:

At 09.40 am on Friday 18th July 2003 together with a Mr Paul Chapman a volunteer search person, I went to Harrow Down Hill, Longworth where a Mr Chapman took me into a wooded area for about approximately 75 yards where I was shown the body of a male person who was lying on his back.

I think that the reference to the date would be made once only and that at the start of his evidence.  Looking at his Hutton testimony one would expect DC Coe to start his witness statement with perhaps  At 06.00 am on Friday 18th July I received a call to attend a briefing at Abingdon police station ... There would be no need to repeat the date for the rest of his statement so far as it relates to that particular day.

From the above it seems that DC Coe didn't record in his statement any of his activity between 06.00 and 09.40 that morning.  Nor does he make mention of his police companions.  The question of course is 'Why?'.

DC Coe mentions the peaked cap close to the body (a more precise description of the position would have been helpful) but at the Inquiry isn't too sure whether the cap was on or off Dr Kelly's head.

No mention is made about police accompanying the ambulance crew.  It's what isn't in DC Coe's statement that I find most revealing.


  1. Very good point, Brian, about evidence starting at 9.40 am.

    The wording about the ambulance crew is extremely woolly.
    At the Hutton Inquiry Dc Coe says this:
    Q. "Did any ambulance people arrive?
    A. They did, yes.
    Q. Can you remember what time they arrived?
    A. I can, if I use my pocket book. Can I?
    Q. Of course.
    A. I have 10.07 here.
    Q. 10.07 being the time at which the ambulance arrived?
    A. Pronounced death, but they might have arrived just prior to that."

    Yet now he says
    "At 1007 am ambulance crew (sic) attended the scene where death was pronounced"

    The two are not quite the same thing. How long does it take for an ambulance crew to attend and pronounce death? Not immediately, I feel.

  2. Felix, one of the reasons perhaps for DC Coe's evidence appearing a bit mangled, particularly in relation to the work of the ambulance crew, is that he is so concerned to say the minimum both in his police witness statement and at the Inquiry that the words don't flow properly.

  3. I'd like to make a few points, re. DC Coe.

    1. Why did he agree to a (paid?) interview with the Daily Mail, 7 years later, and why did he decide to admit to there being a 'third man' in that interview? Did he not realise that this could be seen as perverting the course of justice or perjury?

    2. Agreeing that DC Coe's evidence appeared 'a bit mangled' is not true that Hutton did not ask the relevant questions and then act upon the answers?

    3. I believe that DC Coe is possibly now a civilian working for the Police Force and has been for some time. Does anyone know when this actually came about?

  4. Anonymous, interesting questions! My thoughts:

    1. I too am fascinated about the timing of the interview 7 years after the event. Had someone given him the nod to talk to the press or did he do it off his own bat? It was an interesting coincidence that Dr Hunt beefed up his own evidence in an interview in the same month.

    Perhaps the authorities, concerned about the continuing interest in Dr Kelly's death, were desperate to try and close down the speculation. Hence DC Coe "coming clean". This is purely a guess of course!

    Perjury wouldn't come into it as the testimony at the Inquiry wasn't under oath. Not sure about perverting the course of justice. TVP reckon that DC Coe had a memory lapse - I remain to be convinced!

    2. Mr Knox presumably only had the same very brief statement from Coe to look at that we have now seen. So in his questioning he would have been in the dark. DC Coe's testimony is in very marked contrast with that of PCs Franklin and Sawyer as to level of detail.

    There is no excuse in my opinion for letting DC Coe off so lightly. You could be forgiven for believing that there was a motive for keeping DC Coe's testimony as fuzzy as possible.

    No explanation was offered as to why Coe couldn't appear earlier in the Inquiry. Could it be that TVP wanted to assess the testimonies of other witnesses first? Perhaps they were worried about how his evidence would sit with that of the searchers say; two weeks later and most people would have forgotten.

    3. At the moment I can't find out when DC Coe retired and started his (part time) job as an assistant with the police.

  5. No explanation was offered as to why Coe couldn't appear earlier in the Inquiry.

    ....and Dr Hunt,who had an urgent holiday to attend to on 3rd September when he was due to pop into the Hutton Inquiry to give evidence.

    Just like London Buses: none for a fortnight then two come along together.

    Was this question by Mr Knox a shot in the dark? Or did he have something meatier from Coe to go on?

    "On Tuesday 18th July in the early morning were you on duty?"

    I wouldn't call 9.40 am early morning.

  6. It is curious that a detective constable was cleared to read secret documents but an assistant chief constable was not. Could it be that DC Coe worked for special branch? No of course not, they wouldn’t be used to make house to house inquiries. Would they?

    ACC Page
    “The house was subject to a full search by search trained officers and by members of Thames Valley Special Branch. Their presence I felt necessary again because of Dr Kelly's background. Should we come across any documents of a secret nature, those officers are cleared to handle those documents. That is why they were there.
    Q. You are not cleared to handle those sort of documents?
    A. Not at present, I have been in the past.”

  7. Felix, I do wonder if Mr Knox was distracted by the thought of the soon to be heard testimony of Dr Hunt (immediately following that of DC Coe).

    Mr Knox says 'Tuesday 18th July' when of course he should have said 'Friday 18th July.

  8. LL, one has to suspect that DC Coe was in Special Branch at that time. I believe that Special Branch officers can retain their official rank as in "normal" policing so that outwardly they would appear to be part of the everyday constabulary.

    I wonder how many house to house enquiries were carried out by DC Coe before "striking lucky" with Ruth Absalom!

  9. Possibly special branch. What did he do the next day, Saturday 19th July?
    "I went to [Dr Kelly's house] and at that time. I had an attachment with me who acted as an exhibits officer at the house and I oversaw what he did. I made no search whatsoever of the premise."

    But did Coe handle the documents he oversaw being ferreted out, perhaps while the family were allegedly at the formal identification??

    Not the same trainee "attachment" ,the so-called third man who mysteriously vanishes from Harrowdown Hill mid morning the previous day,surely???
    Yet Dc Coe had apparetly forgotten at the Hutton Inquiry that he had an attachment with him on Harrowdown Hill the previous day along with Dc Shields.
    Is this all credible?