Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Why choose Lord Hutton to chair the Inquiry?

This is what Mr Grieve says in his written statement of 9 June 2011 about Lord Falconer's choice of person to chair the Inquiry:

Lord Falconer cannot be criticised for his choice of Chairman for the Inquiry.  Lord Hutton was, at the time, a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.  He had had a distinguished career at the Bar, as a judge, and later as Chief Justice for Northern Ireland.  Whilst he had not previously sat as a Coroner, he was not unfamiliar with Coronial law and practice.  As a Northern Ireland judge he had presided over many juryless, terrorist connected trials in which he, as judge, determined the facts as well as the law, rendering him particularly qualified to take on the inquisitorial role required by the Inquiry.  It should also be also be recognised that a number of judges have recently sat as Coroners, notably in the Inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed and, more recently, in respect of the London bombings of 7th July 2005.  Lord Hutton was assisted in carrying out the Inquiry by a formidable legal team headed by a senior Silk.

It's instructive to read what was said at the Select Committee on Public Administration held on 25 May 2004 (approx 10 months after Dr Kelly's death).  The witness was one Lord Falconer of Thoroton  http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmpubadm/606/4052510.htm  Questions 173 to 175 are particularly pertinent regarding Lord Hutton's appointment although the whole session with Falconer is interesting.

Lord Falconer states about Hutton 'he was a senior judge of unimpeachable standing'.  We then have a humorous aside from the Chairman saying  'You are not suggesting, by the way, that there are some judges of impeachable standing are you?' to which of course Falconer had to reply 'No'. 

In actual fact Hutton was "tainted" before conducting the InquiryWhat Falconer didn't say on 25 May 2004 and what Grieve never said on 9 June 2011 was that, as Brian Hutton, he represented the Ministry of Defence at the now totally discredited Widgery Inquiry following the "Bloody Sunday" shootings in Londonderry on 30 January 1972.  Maybe in 1972 Hutton was only doing what he was paid to do but it is clear that he was demonstrably part of the cover up relating to the Bloody Sunday business.  In 2003 following Dr Kelly's death it was again the MoD who were under the spotlight.  It goes against the whole concept of natural justice in my opinion to appoint Hutton to head the Inquiry, a man who had been a previous employee of the MoD and who had been party to one of the most notorious cover ups of recent times.

I am grateful to Andrew Watt who had drawn attention to this earlier chapter of Hutton's life, see his "Chilcot's Cheating Us" blog http://chilcotscheatingus.blogspot.com/2011/04/death-of-david-kelly-lord-hutton-has.html  Notice in particular what Hutton had to say to the Londonderry coroner Major Hubert O'Neill.  Perhaps it was this background that led to Falconer very quickly deciding that Hutton was his man for the job.

Putting aside the Widgery Inquiry connection for a moment there are two other reasons that for me suggest Hutton shouldn't have been asked to chair the Inquiry.  Firstly it was known that Hutton was due to retire in less than 6 months from his appointment by Falconer.  Even with the intention of expediting the Inquiry as quickly as possible it was obvious that the risk existed of the Inquiry going beyond his retirement date.  And so it happened: Lord Hutton officially retired as a judge on 11 January 2004 and before he presented his Report on 28 January.

The other thing I want to mention is that Hutton's only experience in chairing an inquiry concerned drainage works in a river in Northern Ireland, and that's it.  In a new post I will discuss how some aspects of Hutton's inexperience became only too clear.

At question 190 in the Committee hearing Falconer states that the number of experienced judges that could have run the Inquiry was in the tens yet it seems that he really only considered Hutton.

Mr Grieve - Lord Falconer can be criticised for his choice of Chairman for the Inquiry.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Lord Falconer did not act "entirely reasonably"

In his written statement of 9 June 2011, as opposed to his verbal statement of the same date, the Attorney General Dominic Grieve wrote:

The then Secretary of State (and Lord Chancellor),Lord Falconer, acted entirely reasonably in exercising his powers to set up an Inquiry and in exercising the statutory powers,given to him by Parliament, to suspend the Inquest opened by the Oxfordshire Coroner and transferring responsibility for investigating the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death to the Inquiry. The Secretary of State cannot be criticised for the proper exercise of his discretion.

Was Mr Grieve right?  I suggest that the answer is a resounding "No".  Going to the Guardian website there is a story timed at 15.08 on 18 July 2003: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/jul/18/bbc.politicsandiraq1  These are the first two paragraphs from it -

Tony Blair has promised an independent judicial inquiry if David Kelly has died, journalists travelling with the prime minister on his flight from Washington to Tokyo have said.

His spokesman, Godric Smith, came to the back of the plane less than an hour ago to announce the possible inquiry.

So between 14.08 and 15.08 Godric Smith speaking for Mr Blair announced there would be an independent judicial inquiry.  Holding of an Inquiry clearly would only make sense if it had been established that Dr Kelly had committed suicide. There is no legitimate way that Mr Blair, in the air on the way to Tokyo, could have known at the time Godric Smith was talking to journalists that Dr Kelly had committed suicide. The forensic pathologist and forensic scientist didn't start their examination until 14.10, the post mortem wasn't completed until 00.15 the following day.  On the 18th the police were putting out the message that it was an unexplained death, in other words it was possible that Dr Kelly's demise resulted from foul play.

Dr Kelly's death was clearly an unusual one and, as such, the established legal process of an inquest should have taken place. At the conclusion of the inquest and, no doubt depending on the verdict reached, it would then have been open to the government to hold an inquiry. That was self evidently the correct procedure to follow, to complete the inquest before any inquiry was started.  In fact this is so obvious when one thinks about it but like many obvious things missed in particular by the media.

On 21 July 2003 it would seem that Lord Hutton was expecting an inquest to go ahead in the normal way because, in a press statement of that date, he says:

I intend to sit in public in the near future to state how I intend to conduct the Inquiry and to consider the extent to which interested parties and bodies should be represented by counsel or solicitors. In deciding on the date when I will sit I will obviously wish to take into account the date of Dr Kelly''s funeral and the timing of the inquest into his death.

Mr Grieve states that Lord Falconer invoked section 17A of the Coroners Act on 12 August 2003. A letter was sent to the Oxfordshire Coroner announcing that decision. This letter from Sarah Albon, Principal Private Secretary to Lord Falconer was copied to Lord Hutton. Lord Hutton didn't make a statement as to the change of status of his Inquiry at his sittings, nor was there a press notice about it on the Inquiry website.

It was known that Lord Hutton was taking evidence that wasn't under oath or affirmation, which would be a requirement at an inquest. By the time that Lord Falconer had invoked section 17A of the Coroners Act Lord Hutton had started taking evidence and it is a matter of common sense that the Inquiry couldn't change to taking evidence on oath at that stage. It was irrational for Lord Falconer to invoke section 17A in this instance knowing full well that the Inquiry would be inferior to an inquest in that evidence wouldn't be under oath or affirmation. Grieve knows full well that it's inadequate to have an Inquiry with testimony that's not under oath but doesn't discuss this matter in his statement to the House, it is only in his written statement that it is out in the open.

Mr Grieve - you are absolutely wrong in that part of your written statement about Lord Falconer.

Monday, 18 July 2011

It was eight years ago today

A short post just to remind us all that it was exactly eight years ago that search dog Brock found the body of Dr David Kelly.  That was Friday 18th July 2003.  An inquest was opened and adjourned on Monday 21st July.  I don't have to remind you that a complete inquest is still awaited.

Last November I wrote a post with a link to a video: an interview with David Kelly made during the month preceding his death.  On this anniversary it seems to me to be appropriate to provide that link again.  This is the one http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=268935367757039981# 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Dr Kelly's multi coloured cap

In a comment on my last post, in which I had been discussing Dr Kelly's Barbour jacket, Lancashire Lad remarked on the Barbour cap found near the body.  I had previously written about this cap http://drkellysdeath-suicideormurder.blogspot.com/2011/01/blood-and-barbour-cap.html but at that time didn't have the benefit of seeing the report of the forensic biologist Mr Green http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/Publications/Documents/Roy%20Green%20forensic%20statement%2027%20September%202003.pdf

On 25 July 2003 the cap was one of a substantial number of items received by Mr Green from the police.  Reference the ground beneath the cap:

Areas of possible vomit-like staining were observed on both sides of deceased's face coming from the mouth, on the jacket and on the ground partially covered by the cap. 

I believe that Mr Green's report was scanned as I am unable to copy it in the normal way.  The cap information is on page 17 of 20 of the pdf file and can be accessed from the link already given.  The first sentence I will repeat here though:

Item (AMH.6) was the brown, blue, red and white checked "Barbour" cap, which was found near the deceased's left shoulder.

This description took me by surprise as I had just assumed it was a single coloured cap.  This shows the danger of making assumptions of course.  Lancashire Lad provided a link that shows what such a cap might have looked like http://sartorialmale.com/style/the-hottest-winter-hats/attachment/barbour-mens-classic-wool-tartan-cap/

Enlarging on what Dr Hunt said in his report we learn from Mr Green that the inside of the cap was heavily stained with smears of blood, also that the underside of the peak bore smears of blood.  It seems very likely that this was Dr Kelly's blood from tests carried out on one of the bloodstains inside the cap.

DNA tests from a non bloodstained area inside the cap indicated the presence of two sets of DNA, one of which was Dr Kelly.  Mr Green also says that the other, minor, contributor to the DNA mix could have been a female.

Dr Hunt dealt with this cap in two sentences in his report:

Lying adjacent to the left shoulder/upper arm was a 'Barbour' cap with the lining side uppermost.  There was blood over the lining and also the peak.

It needs to be remembered that a flat cap was present in the game pocket of the Barbour jacket.

Roy Green is a forensic scientist, Dr Hunt is a forensic pathologist, yet neither of them seems to have considered why the blood was present on the cap.  This is so typical of the slip shod way the investigation was carried out followed by the totally inadequate Inquiry.  It's as if the evidence of blood on the cap can't be made to fit in with the suicide hypothesis so this oddity is then ignored.  What a shambles!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Dr Kelly's Barbour jacket

This post will focus on whether Dr Kelly left home on the afternoon of 17th July wearing his Barbour jacket or whether this jacket was taken to Harrowdown Hill say, by a third party on the morning of the 18th, and it then slipped on him.

The reasoning I believe that has been used to suggest the second alternative can be summarised as follows:  (1) some early press reports, I can't recall exactly which ones at the moment, reported Dr Kelly leaving his home without a coat.  (2) This was the middle of a warm July, would Dr Kelly have worn a Barbour jacket in such weather?

Regarding the first point there definitely seem to be have been some problems with what the press were saying on the day Dr Kelly's body was discovered and immediately after.   Dr Kelly was found face down, or his body was found curled up are examples.  Another one was that he had supposedly been discovered at 8.30 rather than 9.15.  How did these stories originate?

If Dr Kelly really hadn't been wearing his Barbour jacket who would have observed this fact?  So far as I can see Mrs Kelly doesn't make any reference to this coat at the Inquiry. 

According to Mr Green's report Dr Kelly's shirt was a short sleeved one and I don't find anything that odd about a Barbour jacket being worn as an outer garment.  People can become particularly attached to an item of clothing to the extent of almost always wearing it virtually regardless of temperature for instance.

In the "Schedule of responses to issues raised", part of the  the bundle of documents provided to the Attorney General, they deal with the Barbour jacket matter as follows (Questions 40, 51 & 52):

Q. Hutton did not investigate what clothing Dr Kelly was found in. The Inquiry heard that Dr Kelly was found wearing a Barbour type jacket. In conflict with this, contemporaneous reports in newspapers claimed he was found in cotton shirt and jeans

A. The following clothes were recovered from the body of Dr Kelly;
A green 'Barbour' waxed jacket;
A blue, grey and white-striped shirt;
A pair of blue denim jeans;

A brown leather belt with a white metal buckle which was done up at the waist. On the brown leather belt, over the right hip area, was a 'Virgin Atlantic', Velcro closed pouch;
A pair of beige socks;
Underpants; and,
A pair of walking-type boots, brown leather, with the laces done up in
double bows.

Ruth Absalom gave oral evidence at the Hutton Inquiry and said the
following of the clothing;
Q. How was he dressed?
A. Normally. I did not take that much notice.
Q. Do you remember whether he was wearing a jacket or ...?
A. Well, he had obviously got a jacket on but whether it was a suit or an odd jacket and odd trousers I have no idea. We just stopped, said hello, had a chat about nothing in particular.

In her police statement she said, “He was wearing a light coloured shirt and what appeared to be a tweed jacket that was open at the front. I cannot remember what else he was wearing….”

It is apparent that the meeting of Dr Kelly and Mrs Absalom was of little significance to Mrs Absalom at the time and her description of the clothing is vague. However, she does mention a jacket in both accounts which does not confirm the press reports that Dr Kelly was wearing only a cotton shirt and jeans.

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Q. It was recorded that Dr Kelly was found wearing a Barbour jacket. However readings from
Radcliffe Meteorological Centre – about 7 miles from Southmoor, reported that July was warmer than average and would have been a minimum of 16C when he left for his walk. There was no rain. Why wear a Barbour jacket rather than simply a jersey.

A The observation is speculative. The Inquiry into how Dr Kelly came by his death was thorough and exhaustive. Thames Valley Police conducted their investigation as a potential homicide investigation. All relevant matters were pursued and investigated. Dr Kelly was found wearing a Barbour jacket. It was open and he had only a shirt on beneath it.

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Q. Mrs Kelly described him changing into jeans and (walking?) shoes but did not mention the
jacket. The report in the Guardian stated that Dr Kelly had left home in just a cotton shirt and

A. See above. There is no source given for the report in The Guardian and is contrary to the evidence given by Ruth Absalom that Dr Kelly was wearing a jacket.

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In the first question it can be seen that Mr Dingemans is perhaps keen to establish with Mrs Absalom that she saw that Dr Kelly was wearing a jacket but with her witness statement to look at there may be nothing untoward with his line of questioning.

My own feeling is that Dr Kelly was wearing his Barbour jacket when he left the house but really I don't think we can be sure.  Certainly I know that there are some who are dubious about the reliability of Ruth Absalom's testimony.

Whether David Kelly regularly wore his Barbour on his country walks is something that Mrs Kelly could have helpfully told us. 

Monday, 4 July 2011

Dr Kelly's wallet

Surprise had been expressed in a comment some time ago on this or another blog that there was no mention of a wallet or other identification on the body of Dr Kelly.

Looking at the latest  batch of responses from Thames Valley Police I'm pleased to see that somebody has raised this very matter.  The questioner had raised other points which won't be covered in this particular post.

These are the questions and answers relating to the wallet and ID:

Q  Was a wallet found on or close to Dr Kelly's body at Harrowdown Hill on 18 July 2003?
A  No

Q  Was any form of identification found on Dr Kelly's body at Harrowdown Hill?
A  No

Q  Was Dr Kelly's wallet found at a location other than Harrowdown Hill?  If so, at what location and on what date was it found?
A  Dr Kelly's wallet was found by his family on the dining table of his house prior to them reporting him missing.

Probably many people would be surprised that Dr Kelly wasn't carrying any identification on him although I don't have too much of a problem with this. 

The thing I found more interesting was the location of the wallet in the house.  Leaving his wallet on the table seems odd to me in view of my perception of Dr Kelly being meticulous.  The best possible explanation I can come up with at the moment is that he put it on the table preparatory to putting his Barbour jacket on.  We know he took a phone call just before 3 o'clock.  Did this distract him and he just forgot to put it in his pocket before he exited the front door?

Perhaps the unexpected appearance of Mrs Kelly who heard the phone ring and came downstairs to answer it also upset his normal thought processes.

The fact that the key fob, spectacles (no sign of their case), blister packs and mobile phone were jangling together in one pocket is also very surprising.

Dr Hunt made a lot of the fact that the spectacles weren't on Dr Kelly's face when he examined him and that, in his opinion, he removed them at the time he was allegedly cutting his wrist.  Did Thames Valley police find an empty spectacles case in the Kelly home when they made their extensive search of the premises?  True to form the question wasn't asked at the Inquiry. 

Saturday, 2 July 2011

'An old curving scar'

In his report Dr Hunt, as one would hope, goes in to some detail as to his observations of the body at the post mortem.  Under 'Scars' he writes:

  • Two vaccination scars over the left, upper arm
  • An old, curving scar around the outer aspect of the right elbow
  • There was scars representing possible calluses or treated warts over the inner aspect of the tips of both thumbs
I'm not a medical man but it seems that most of the examination didn't occasion much excitement apart from the wounds to the left wrist of course.  However a "one off" scar was something a bit special I would have thought, particularly as it had the potential in this instance to raise the question of whether there might be a restriction on the use of the right arm.

Dr Hunt had a sizable audience to witness the post mortem.  They included the Chief Investigating Officer DCI Young, 4 SOCOs and 3 detective constables.  The presence of the old curving scar must have produced some interest I would have thought.  This wasn't a case of Dr Hunt just noting it and then failing to appraise DCI Young on a later occasion because everybody was there!

Surely the police would have said to Dr Hunt  'I think we need to check this out before you write up your report'.  They could have approached Dr Warner and Mrs Kelly to find out some background as to why the scar was there.  In fact it was the result of an accident in late 1991 that led to surgery and then physiotherapy being carried out.

We know that Dr Hunt wrote his preliminary report for the coroner on Saturday 19 July.  It very much looks as if no subsequent investigation into the presence of the scar was carried out after the post mortem, at least there is no public record of this.  The scar wasn't discussed at the Inquiry.

If it hadn't been for the publication of Dr Hunt's report last October we would have been none the wiser as to the presence of 'an old curving scar'.


Further thoughts on Mrs Kelly's co-proxamol

A couple of days ago I put up a post about Mrs Kelly's co-proxamol tablets http://drkellysdeath-suicideormurder.blogspot.com/2011/06/mrs-kellys-store-of-co-proxamol-tablets.html From that post and subsequent comments it can be seen that no proof whatsoever has been produced linking the blister packs in the Barbour jacket pocket with the tablets in the two locations in the Kelly home.

This is what we read in Chapter 5 Paragraph 147 of Lord Hutton's Report:

  147.  It also appears probable that the Coproxamol tablets which Dr Kelly took just before his death came from a store of those tablets which Mrs Kelly, who suffered from arthritis, kept in their home. In a statement furnished to the Inquiry Detective Constable Eldridge stated:

At 1000hrs on Thursday 7th AUGUST 2003 I was on duty at Long Hanborough Incident Room when I removed from secure storage the following items for examination:—


2.  Exhibit NCH/17/2 CO-PROXAMOL BLISTER PACKETS FRONT BOTTOM BELLOWS POCKET these had been removed from Dr KELLY'S coat pocket by the Pathologist
On examining both items I saw that they were identical. They were marked M & A Pharmacy Ltd and had the wording CO-PROXAMOL PL/4077/0174 written on the foil side of each of the blister type packs.

I can say that enquiries have been made with M & A PHARMACHEM who are the manufacturers of CO-PROXAMOL. The batch number shown on the tablets in our possession was checked with a view to tracing the chemist that these tablets had been purchased from. I can say that this batch number relates to approximately 1.6 million packets of tablets that will have been distributed to various chemists throughout the country.

It was way back in November last year that Andrew Watt had pointed out that the "PL" number was the Product License Number http://chilcotscheatingus.blogspot.com/2010/11/death-of-david-kelly-possible-important.html  On the face of it DC Eldridge was asking the wrong question!
Lord Hutton uses the word 'probable' in his first sentence.  At an inquest a verdict of suicide would demand proof beyond reasonable doubt.  I submit that if it can't be clearly shown that the blister packs found in the jacket pocket originated from Mrs Kelly's supply then the suicide hypothesis is fatally undermined.  Also there is this in the sparse testimony of Dr Kelly's GP Dr Warner:

Q. Did you ever have to prescribe Coproxamol to Dr Kelly?
A. No.

No proof at all has been demonstrated that the "jacket pocket tablets" came from Mrs Kelly's supply, there is no evidence that the police properly looked into the matter and Mr Dingemans posed something of a leading question on the subject at the inquiry.  Whereas the co-proxamol has played "second fiddle" to the knife wounds the co-proxamol evidence has to be similarly viable for a suicide conclusion to be reached.  
Put simply: the origin of the co-proxamol constituents found in Dr Kelly's body cannot be positively linked to the tablets in Mrs Kelly's supply.  This being the case the conclusion that Dr Kelly committed suicide cannot be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Is this the communications mast?

We know from a Freedom of Information Request made, I think, by Norman Baker that a 110 ft high communication mast was erected at the Kelly home.  The picture in this link might just be showing it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3324741.stm  The photograph was I suppose taken in July 2003 as one can see a police presence even though the related story is from the following December.

The ground underneath Dr Kelly's body

The various witnesses who describe the ground conditions around Dr Kelly's body, either when at the Hutton Inquiry or elsewhere, don't seem to be of one accord.  From my observations the floor of a particular wood can be remarkably consistent or highly variable regarding its vegetation.  In the case of the wood on Harrowdown Hill I would expect considerable variability because of more than one species of tree, trees spaced unevenly and the hill being exposed to weather from all directions.  Add in the known badger activity in the wood leading to some areas of bare ground and one could well imagine that the vegetation underfoot might not be consistent over the area of this particular wood.

The following extracts from the interview of DC Coe (retired) in the Mail on Sunday of 8 August 2010 certainly have a ring of truth about them:

I had to pick my way through brambles and nettles but it wasn’t impassable.

He was lying in the dirt near the base of the tree – in the area where there’s no undergrowth.


Rather confusingly we have forensic biologist Roy Green saying in his report:

He was lying on his back in the undergrowth of nettles and brambles.

Later Mr Green says:

The leaf litter nature of the ground meant that it would have been very absorbent to blood. 

At the Inquiry Mr Dingemans helpfully suggests to Mr Green that this leaf litter acted perhaps like blotting paper.

There's a particular section of Mr Green's report which aids the identification of the area of the wood where the body was found:

On the edge of the wood there was a wooden gate which opened off the bridle path and gave access to a field.  The deceased had been found approximately 100 metres further up the bridle path and then up to the left into the wood.

Somewhat supporting DC Coe's newspaper description Dr Hunt in his report says:

The body had also acquired some soiling with dirt from the process of undressing at the scene and from movement into the body bag.

At the Inquiry PC Franklin says:

We walked between 50 and 70 metres into the wood up a slight gradient, and in a clearing at the base of a tree was the body of a white male.

My overall impression regarding the position of where the body was found is that there was little or no vegetation underneath the body, some leaf litter in the vicinity but minimal depth certainly at that time of year not deep leaf mould.  Vanessa Hunt talks of some nettles with blood on them near the body.  PC Sawyer indicates that the area beyond the bottle is well nigh impenetrable brambles and undergrowth but how far either side of the body position isn't known.

Finally on page 54 of his book Norman Baker, having been to Harrowdown Hill, emphasises the very variable nature of the wood noting some clearings and other areas very difficult to traverse.