Will we ever be told the truth about the death of Dr David Kelly?
by MELANIE PHILLIPS
Everyone knows, don't they, that most untoward events generally have banal explanations such as muddle, incompetence or sheer blind chance.
To believe otherwise is to run the risk of being branded a 'conspiracy theorist', a small step away from being lumped together with the kind of people who think that crop circles are designed by visitors from Mars or that Princess Diana was murdered by MI6.
The death of the weapons inspector Dr David Kelly in 2003 triggered a political firestorm of the highest order. His apparent suicide put the Government under enormous pressure following his unmasking as the source of the BBC's claim that the Government had 'sexed up' the case for war in Iraq.
All attention focused on the epic battle between Alastair Campbell and the BBC over this claim, and the treatment the Government meted out to Dr Kelly.
Even though the inquiry into the affair by Lord Hutton exonerated ministers and officials of virtually all charges, merely rebuking them for not having warned Dr Kelly that his name was about to be made public, the Government was still widely blamed for driving him to his death.
Right from the start, however, there were many who were not convinced Dr Kelly had taken his own life at all. Many aspects of the story just didn't seem to add up. First was the character of the man and his demeanour on the day he died.
Although he was under intense pressure, he was known to be a strong character and belonged to the Baha'i faith, which prohibits suicide.
Those closest to him (such as his sister), and even neighbours he met on his last walk, said that on the day he died he had shown no signs of depression.
The Hutton inquiry, and the experts it called, dismissed out of hand any idea that Dr Kelly had not killed himself. But the suspicions wouldn't go away, and developed a life of their own on the internet.
Claims were made that Dr Kelly's body had been moved from its original prone position on the ground, and propped up against a tree. Items said to have been found near his body had not been seen by the paramedics who first found him. And so on.
Such claims were given considerably more authority in 2004 when three medical specialists wrote in a letter to the Press that they did not believe the official finding that Dr Kelly died either from haemorrhaging from a severed ulnar artery in his wrist, or from an overdose of coproxamol tablets, or a combination of the two.
Such an artery, they said, was of matchstick thickness and severing it would not lead to the kind of blood loss that would kill someone. They also pointed out that, according to the ambulance team at the scene, the quantity of blood around the body was minimal - hardly what one would expect if someone has just haemorrhaged to death.
Even stranger, although Dr Kelly was said to have swallowed 29 coproxamol tablets, only one-fifth of one tablet was found in his stomach, and the level found in his blood was far less than a fatal dose.
Despite the expertise of these sceptics, their claims went largely unnoticed. The implications seemed too far-fetched to be taken seriously. After all, if Dr Kelly did not commit suicide, and clearly didn't just drop dead of natural causes, he must have been killed.
Who could have done such a deed? The Iraqi secret service? Our own? Shadowy terrorists lying in wait in the Oxfordshire woods armed with undetectable poisons and an array of evidence to lay a false trail and bamboozle everyone?
No, this kind of thinking properly belonged in the pages of John Le Carre's fiction.
But now, it has not only been taken up within Parliament, but the original charges of inconsistency have been embellished with much more evidence which can no longer be ignored.
The tenacious Lib Dem MP Norman Baker gave up his front-bench job to investigate these claims. What he has uncovered is remarkable and poses questions which demand to be answered.
Mr Baker has not only found experts who confirm the analysis of the three doctors about the discrepancies and scientific improbabilities in the official account.
He has also discovered that only one person in the UK was said to have killed himself by slitting his ulnar artery that year - and that was Dr Kelly.
This is hardly surprising since this is just about the most improbable way to commit suicide, made even more difficult by the inappropriate knife that Dr Kelly is said to have used.
More explosively still, however, are Mr Baker's discoveries (published in yesterday's Mail on Sunday) about the behaviour of the police and the coroner.
The normal practice in such circumstances would be for the coroner to issue a temporary death certificate pending the official inquiry into such a death.
But in this case, the coroner issued an unprecedented full death certificate, just one week after the inquiry started into the circumstances of Dr Kelly's demise ? and after the coroner had held a meeting with Home Office officials.
What on earth could have been the point of such a meeting at such a sensitive time, except for the Government to direct the coroner in some unspecified and possibly improper way?
As for the police, their behaviour appears to have been even more bizarre.
According to Mr Baker, their operation to investigate Dr Kelly's death started around nine hours before the weapons expert was reported missing. What astounding prescience! With such psychic powers among the police, one wonders there is any crime at all.
Many of these curiosities surfaced in evidence to the Hutton inquiry, only to be batted away. Lord Hutton's brief was simply to inquire into 'the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly'. Clearly, he could have investigated the manner of his death, but he chose not to do so.
Instead, he took it as a given that Dr Kelly had taken his own life - and stated that he was satisfied by claims which we are now told were scientifically impossible, that Dr Kelly killed himself by slitting his left wrist and that his death was hastened by the number of coproxamol tablets he had taken.
Mr Baker claims that Lord Hutton was chosen at speed by a cabal around the Prime Minister because he was inexperienced and could be relied upon to toe the line.
When his report exonerated the Government, he was rounded upon as a patsy by those who were certain that it had Dr Kelly's blood on its hands. But maybe, just like Lord Hutton himself, such critics missed the fact that he had asked the wrong questions altogether.
Now, it has taken just one terrier-like MP to unearth all this information.
Why has no official body asked the same questions about all these obvious peculiarities? Why has no one given a straight answer to those who have raised them?
What is the point of going to the expense and public performance of a high-profile official inquiry, only to find that the most basic of questions about evidence that is either contradictory or doesn't stand up to scrutiny haven't even been asked?
In the light of all this, the coroner's decision not to resume the inquest into Dr Kelly's death because there were 'no exceptional circumstances' appears totally unsustainable. A full inquest is now imperative to get to the bottom of this disturbing mystery once and for all.
Kelly Investigation Group
Tel: 01425 638409
I tend to agree, I was never happy with the story of suicide, it did not add up.
- John, Exeter, England
When Tony Blair meets his maker, he has a lot to as forgiveness for - I hope he is not forgiven.
- Karen, Ex Pat
This whole affair stinks from start to finish. A lot of reasonably intelligent people in the UK probably feel the same way.
- Darren Marsh, Chessington, Surrey
I never believed in the Hutton report. Dr Kelly was viewed as the culprit by the government and yet they are the ones appointing an investigator. Fox guarding the hen house.
- Nathan, Milwaukee,Wisconsin
Norman Baker's points are all very good but one thing has been left out. In a special report published by the Daily Mail on Saturday 6th March 2004 by Sue Reid it stated in the third paragraph: 'Even before Lord Hutton's historic judgment, Mai Pederson, an American army intelligence officer and confidante of Dr. Kelly, said the scientist would never have taken his own life. More intriguingly, she explained that he hated all types of pill. He even had trouble swallowing a headache tablet.'
- Louise Mclean, London
Norman Baker MP gives a series of compelling reasons for doubting that Dr David Kelly committed suicide. But who murdered him? Who stood to profit from his death? The government certainly did not. The immediate result was an acute political crisis for Tony Blair. Even with the appointment of the "safe" Lord Hutton in charge, Blair had no guarantee that the Hutton inquiry would clear him and as it happened the evidence given to the inquiry did lasting damage to his reputation. Moreover, if a professional killer had murdered Dr Kelly would he not have made a more convincing appearance of suicide?
- Richard, London, England
With plausable deniability and spin I wouldn't put anything past this Blair Government.
- Mike, Denia, Spain
The truth will never be known. - Peter, London
How obvious was it that Dr Kelly's death was not suicide.
- Helen, UK
The whole episode is indeed a bit 'smelly' and should be independently investigated.
- Freddie, Northants
Considering how much blood this government has on its hands through incompetence and design, a lot of people might figure this was murder.
- Ryk, London
One poster asks what would the Government have to gain. Dr Kelly was not a 'middle' ranking civil servant he was depicted as in the 'spin'. He was the worlds expert on WMD, who had sat alongside Tony Blair in briefings. He was privy to vasts amounts of information on The Russians, the Iranians, as well as Iraq. When someone is cornered and has integrity they will come out fighting. Whilst the Inquiry did some damage, further disclosures by Dr Kelly would probably have destroyed Blair's Government. I have no doubts he was murdered, at the behest of who? Make your own minds up.
- Robert Feal-Martinez, Swindon, England
I totally agree with the above as I considered from the first sighting of the Hutton report that it was complete whitewash. I was also appalled at the manner of questioning when Dr Kelly was before the original committee. Those who questioned him ought to hang their heads in shame.
- J.Fleming, St.Neot, Cambs.
I agree with Mr Baker too many things dont add up. Sadly I doubt if the truth will ever come out and we have lost a very clever man to help keep this trash running the country in office. It is my opinion that they where afraid of what may come out through Dr Kelly so he was killed like many of our troops on Blairs orders in a unjust war.
- K Harrop, Herts
Yes, let's have an independent enquiry, Mr Baker should press for this. If the Government have nothing to hide then they have everything to gain.
- Brian, England
This case just stinks from top to bottom.
- Gordon Myatt, Swansea UK
If it was not suicide, then it can only have been a murder! If it was murder, who would have the motive and opportunity?Doesn't bear thinking about does it.
- Thomas, Dubai
Dr Kelly had the 'guts' to speak out. That alone makes nonsense of his so called suicide. I feel so sad for his family.
- Molly, Oxford
We will never know what actually happened but one thing is for sure, with such a corrupt Goverment in place, anything is possible.
- B.Baker, Spalding, England
I've always believed this scientist was murdered by the establishment. Tony Blair was proved a liar when he denied he had anything to do with the naming of this man and then admitted it under pressure from a journalist. Like this lying incompetent government the whole thing is a charade!
- Brian James, Alhaurin El Grande, Spain
I agree that the Inquest into David Kelly's death should be re-opened. The Hutton Inquiry was a total whitewash. The two people who discovered David Kelly's body stated it was slumped against a tree. Shortly after the discovery three policemen appeared who were not part of the official search team. The three policemen stayed with the body until more police arrived. From then on everyone who saw the body stated it to be in a supine position with the head at the base of the tree. Why had the body been moved? At the Hutton Inquiry one of the three policemen stated there was only one other person with him. Who was the third person? The two paramedics who attended the site were concerned about the lack of blood at the scene. There are too many inconsitencies concerning this case, so keep on pushing Mr Baker.
- Stuart Jessop, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
Just another cover up by the 'mafia' of a government. How much longer are we going to put up with lies and deciet?
- Jacqueline Butterworth, England
Only a haemophiliac would bleed to death from a severed artery in the wrist. The body has wonderful mechanisms in place to deal with that type of injury and would have stopped the bleeding very quickly indeed. To my mind the crucial, yet unanswered question is, 'How much blood did Dr Kelly actually lose'? The painkillers certainly didn't kill him therefore the area around him would have had to be positively swimming in blood.
- Midge Curry, Bakewell, England
There is definitely more than reasonable doubt that Doctor Kelly's death was suspicious.
- Frank Sweeney, Chalgrove Oxfordshire
It's very doubtful if the general public will ever find out the true facts surrounding David Kelly's death.The whole thing stinks of a cover up from on high. Blair and his cronies picked Hutton to lead the investigation into the death was because they knew he would reach the "right" conclusion.
- Stratford, Hants.
This is most likely another example of what I know as "the time value of the truth".Most enquiries of this nature are now aimed at simply putting off the time when the truth might out. That is why semi-competent procrastinators are usually chosen to lead them (with as little knowledge of the issues as possible), difficulties are thrown in the way about access to witnesses etc. The theory is that a holding exercise will satisfy the great British public and it usually does. By the time a report is produced, many people have forgotten the issues. Lots of rumblings take place, but a form of investigation has been followed.Then several years later the truth starts to seep out. But it is usually too late for a real investigation to take place and the guilty get away with it. That is our cynical shadowy democracy in action and how many times have we seen it recently? Until we manage to recover our democracy we are probably all at risk.
- Tom, Bedfordshire
If there is any doubt whatsoever with how this poor man died it should be investigated and whoever was responsible charged and brought before a court. If a mans life has become so unimportant in this country we have allowed ourselves to be lead to a sorry place. It's time that the truth surrounding Dr Kelly's death together with the connection to the war in Iraq was made clear.
As was said sometime ago about a certain other matter, there are dark forces about of which we have no knowledge.
The death of David Kelly is a tragedy - for his family, for his country and for the world. As much as I understand the interest in his death for those of you that never had the honour of knowing him, I would like to remind you that above all, David was a human being and not just a great dinner conversation topic.
Having watched Dr Kelly being 'grilled' by the Select Committee before his death, I was extremely distressed and disturbed at the appalling way he was being questioned. His name should never have become public; Andrew Gilligan was right in what he said and the BBC gave in to the Government bullies. Yes, there is something deeply suspicious about Dr Kelly's demise and the 'smoking gun' points straight at the Government.
This has a ring of "Who will rid me of this troublesome scientist?" about it.
The past 4 years would be enough to make any thinking person give up on the political processs. But then people like Norman Baker come along and restore your faith in the human race a little more. David Kelly was also one of those people. The day I heard of his death will go down as one of those days you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. I don't think the leaders of this government know the meaning of the word shame but fortunately some of us still do. I wish with all my heart that the truth of this matter is exposed - together with the real reasons we went to war in Iraq!
How long now before Norman Baker has a mysterious 'accident'?
I remember quite a few months ago, on a Sunday, two ambulance personnel appeared on the evening news stating that they did not belive Dr Kellys death was suicide. They were the two personnel who attended the scene. I never saw any follow up news reports on this matter, neither did I see follow up newspaper reports. They stated that the amount of drugs taken by Doctor Kelly was not enough to kill him, even with the wrist wounds. I remember thinking how admirable it was for them to come out fighting and how sad it was that it would not come to anything.It is an absolute travesty to say that this man committed suicide.
The enquiry skated over any reconciliation between the number of Coproximol tablets missing from Mrs Kelly's bathroom and such residue remaining in Dr Kelly's system, not withstanding that this was brought to their attention. The enquiry should be reopened.
Anonymous I am sure I am not alone in being surprised at your post. You are correct we did not have the privilege of knowing Dr Kelly, but there is not a post on this article, that in anyway makes him any less than a hero to stand up to Government. We are all calling for justice for him and his family. This is not dinner party gossip this is real concern for a man who we all believe was murdered for knowing too much.
In "The Gathering Storm" a film about Churchill between the wars, a Civil Servant giving him information to use in Parliament against the Government is given the ultimatum by a superior. Commit suicide and your widow will receive a pension. If we prosecute she will not. When I saw the film a few months ago the apparent parallel to Dr Kelly was unmistakable.
I watched with disgust the harassment of Dr. Kelly by some bullies on the Select Committee and I saw how superior he was, both in intellect and integrity, to his tormentors. After that display, I didn't expect any report emanating from an inquiry set up by the government to be impartial, so I did not believe it - neither did anyone else I spoke to at the time. I really hope Mr. Norman Baker will receive the support from MPs necessary to establish another, independent, inquiry into the matter. Only greater transparencyconcerning the activities of our government will restore confidence in the democratic system, dented by the presidential style of the prime minister at No.10.
What the pro-war lobby hoped for from Kelly was that his appearance in front of the committee would establish that (a) he was the Gilligan source and that (b) Gilligan had misrepresented his views. When Kelly denied that he was the source he became instantly nothing but a liabilty to those who wanted us to go to war. Ironically Kelly was pro-war, and furthermore in a BBC interview which pre-dates Gilligan's he was recording using the phrase 'made sexier'.The suspicious circumstances of his death demand a proper inquest.
- David Cox, London, England