Friday, October 26, 2007

Media War against "Conspiracy Theorists" Update - UK: Murdoch-CIA-Mafia's Times Book Reviewer Trashes MP'S Conspiracy Book Before Reading it

by Alex Constantine

David Aaronovitch is a columnist for London's Times. Like Carl Bernstein, his parents were communists and his public image is liberal. Fittingly, he won the George Orwell Prize for political journalism in 2001. Here we find that Aaronovitch is quite the prescient reviewer - he trashed a book by MP Norman Baker on the murder of David Kelly (cf. my previous post, "Weapons Expert David Kelly 'was Assassinated,' Claims MP"), a book that hasn't yet been released, and one Aaronovitch has NEVER READ.

The Mockingbird's Conspiracy Theories He fits the Murdochian Mockingbird profile, all right. In his June 23, 2007 column, he chimed in with the hysterical chorus of CIA-Bushite fear mongers in the press, to wit: "The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor by William Langewiesche." Within the next few years, Aaronovitch wrote (exhibiting another aspect of his reportorial prescience), "some country somewhere is likely to use nuclear weapons against its enemy. ... To make a device you need a certain amount of highly enriched uranium, which is hard to steal and very hard to make. Once you have the enrichment for civilian purposes, however, you can then carry straight on and make a bomb. ... "

Cold sweat coming on? The Mockingbirds sing terrifying operas of dreadful conspiracies. The better to control you, shape your opinions, Orwell-style.- AC

Letter from Norman Baker, Minister of Parliament, to the Times....

Conspiracy theories
The official version of events should not be readily accepted

Sir, I was fascinated by David Aaronovitch’s ability to review my book, which is not yet released (comment, Oct 23). I also had no idea that he was medically qualified, but he must be, as he seems certain that 29 co-proxamol tablets is sufficient to cause death. He must indeed be confident to counter the massed ranks of medical experts. Even the official forensic toxicologist at the Hutton inquiry, Alex Allan, conceded that the level found in Dr Kelly’s body was only a third of that which would normally be found in an overdose case.

Mr Aaronovitch is always keen to dismiss anything that he calls a “conspiracy theory”, which by definition must be wrong. If it turns out to be correct, such as Iran-Contra, then of course it is no longer a conspiracy theory and is reclassified. Naturally, as he is bringing a book out next year rubbishing “conspiracy theories”, the last thing he needs at this point is for one to be shown to have basis to it.

Yet his own grasp of events involving Iraq and Dr Kelly seems shaky at best. Mr Aaronovitch told his readers in 2003 that in respect of Iraqi WMD, “if nothing is eventually found, I — as a supporter of the war — will never believe another thing that I am told by our Government, or that of the US, ever again.”

Perhaps, therefore, Mr Aaronovitch ought to be a bit more questioning of the official version of events given to him, as we are entitled to expect from any journalists worth their salt. And perhaps he ought to show a bit more humility.Norman Baker, MPLiberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office

David Aaronvitch's article.....

From The Times
October 23, 2007

A weapons expert, a rose grower and a fantasist
A most peculiar theory about Dr David Kelly

by David Aaronovitch

One of Ming Campbell’s more light-hearted legacies to his party was the elevation to the position of Shadow to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster of Norman Baker, the MP for Lewes. In fact Mr Baker’s job represented a repromotion, since he had previously been environment spokesman for the Lib Dems, but had decided to give the post up to pursue other matters. The nature of those other matters became clear at the weekend with the serialisation of his book, entitled, The Strange Death of David Kelly, or, as the headline put it, “Why I know weapons expert Dr David Kelly was murdered, by the MP who spent a year investigating his death.”

This charge, from a senior MP in an influential newspaper, is sensational in the truest sense of that word. Surely, the reader may be entitled to imagine, such an accusation would not be made lightly and that Mr Baker will have done his homework. His accusations, therefore, deserve scrutiny.

Mr Baker’s initial objections to the verdict of suicide on Dr Kelly were both intuitive and practical. Mr Baker simply doesn’t believe that the senior arms inspector was suicidal, since he was a “strong character who had survived many difficult situations in the past”, including the self-destruction by overdose of his own mother when he was 20. And Mr Baker worries too about a series of what he believes are discrepancies about the finding of Dr Kelly’s body on Harrowdown Hill in July 2003. Was he wearing a coat when found? And had the body been moved?

More practically Mr Baker sides with a small number of medical people who have expressed their belief that Dr Kelly could not have died as the pathologist said he did. The combination of ingesting 29 co-proxamol tablets, and cutting across the ulnar artery in the left wrist, means it is, in Mr Baker’s words, “nigh-on clinically impossible for Dr Kelly to have died by his own hand”.

But soon Mr Baker’s early doubts of suicide are turned into certainties of foul play by a couple of gods that yank themselves out of the machine. A man in Exeter “who had agreed to meet me only on condition of anonymity and after some rather circuitous arrangements” tells the MP of encountering an old spook colleague in a pub who in turn says that Dr Kelly’s death had been “a wet operation, a wet disposal”. Three weeks later Exeter Man loses all his Kelly material when his computer is stolen in a mysterious burglary.

A second anonymous source who meets Mr Baker in the Commons goes quiet, fails to supply promised information and is then “subjected to an horrific attack by an unknown assailant, the full details of which he has asked me not to reveal”. But Mr X does confide that the murderers of the weapons inspector were anti-Saddamite Iraqis dangerously embarrassed by Dr Kelly’s scepticism about one of their main tips to British Intelligence – that Iraq had WMD ready to go within 45 minutes. Mr Baker was told that these exiles nabbed Dr Kelly when he went for a walk, injected him in the bottom with something to keep him quiet and then killed him by some unknown method. Mr Baker believes that it is likely that the British authorities, realising what had happened, doctored the body to make it all look like suicide.

If some of this sounds unplaceably familiar to readers over 35, I may be able to help you. In March 1984 an elderly rose grower, Hilda Murrell, was abducted from her Shrewsbury home and later found dead in a small copse some miles away. The police said it was a bungled burglary, but some in Shrewsbury’s anti-nuclear community suspected a political motive. Miss Murrell was about to publish a paper opposing further development of nuclear power.

These campaigners, and interested journalists, pointed out the many anomalous features of the case, including the time it took to discover the body, the implausibility of a burglar choosing to drive his victim out of town in broad daylight, and the condition of the telephone wire in her house. World in Action on ITV devoted a programme to the possibility that Miss Murrell was the victim of a political murder.

That December the Labour MP Tam Dalyell announced in the Commons that he had been told by two anonymous sources that Miss Murrell had been killed in a botched break-in by people looking for “ Belgrano-related documents” left there by her nephew, who had been in Naval Intelligence at the time of the 1982 sinking of the Argentine battlecruiser. “The searchers were members of British Intelligence, I am informed,” Mr Dalyell said.
There the accusation lay for more than 20 years – with many playwrights and journalists believing that the Thatcherite State was quite capable of such murderousness – until new DNA evidence and a cold-case review established who the Murrell murderer was. He turned out to have been, at the time of the killing, a 16-year-old petty criminal called Andrew George, who lived in a local care home. In 2005 he was imprisoned for life.
The Dalyell idea of a Murrell conspiracy mirrors in almost every important detail the Baker idea of the Kelly murder, with the dismissal of the “official version” as somehow deficient, and in the build-up of anonymous information. And, like Mr Baker’s accusations, Mr Dalyell’s speculations were not victimless. As far as I know Mr Dalyell has never apologised to those police officers, Home Office staff and secret service personnel whom he effectively slandered and whose time he squandered. Mr Baker happily puts the Thames Valley Police, the pathologists and (by implication) Tony Blair in the frame, and once more causes upset to the Kelly family.

If Mr Baker were himself to be Bakered, then he might be challenged to tell his constituents on whose behalf he has wasted a year concocting absurd accusations. Does he think that, two months after the fall of Saddam, their country in turmoil, Iraqi exiles were wandering round the English countryside bumping off scientists who believed – as Dr Kelly did – that Saddam possessed WMD?

But there is a way to settle this. Since the fearless Mr Baker believes it is impossible to die in the way Dr Kelly is supposed to have done, then he should be able to meet the simple challenge of himself taking 29 co-proxamol tablets and then slitting his left ulnar artery. Unless, of course, he secretly suspects that the next day Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne would find themselves looking for a new Shadow to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Campbell, that dodgy dossier and the lies that cost David Kelly his life

23rd October 2007

Comments (9)

To the organisers of the auction to raise money for Labour Party funds, it probably seemed a good idea at the time.

Why not ask Cherie Blair to autograph a copy of the 750-page document which saved her husband's political career and offer it as one of the lots?

A copy was organised, Mrs Blair duly signed it, and the special souvenir edition of the Hutton report went for £400 at the event in London's Mayfair last year, with various Labour luminaries in attendance.


At no point did anyone seem to reflect that treating an official document about the death of a respected civil servant as some sort of novelty item might have been in bad taste.

But then, for Tony Blair and his colleagues, what was owed to Dr David Kelly in the way of decent treatment had never been much of an issue.

In the weeks before he was discovered dead in a wood in Oxfordshire on Friday, July 18, 2003, he was treated as a pawn in the Government's game against the BBC.

Even after he died, no one seemed particularly chastened. With his body barely cold that weekend, the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon was photographed enjoying VIP treatment at Silverstone, and Blair's director of communications, Alastair Campbell, was working the phones to friendly Fleet Street editors to shore up his own position.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's press spokesman Tom Kelly (certainly no relation) was busily advising journalists that the world-respected weapons inspector had, in fact, been a Walter Mitty character who had contributed to his own downfall.

Comparing the late Dr Kelly to a character famous for living in a world of fantasy was outlandishly cruel to his memory, given that it was his very passion for the truth that led to him becoming so ensnared in controversy in the final weeks of his life.

The scientist's only crime was to speak to BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and voice his concerns, widely shared among his colleagues, that the facts on weapons of mass destruction were misrepresented in the notorious 'September dossier' produced by the Government to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Reading the transcript of Gilligan's broadcast today, the most striking aspect is the accuracy of the allegations he was reporting.

True, his language was in places not as tight as it could have been, but the BBC certainly didn't

To the organisers of the auction to raise money for Labour Party funds, it probably seemed a good idea at the time. Why not ask Cherie Blair to autograph a copy of the 750-page document which saved her husband's political career and offer it as one of the lots?

A copy was organised, Mrs Blair duly signed it, and the special souvenir edition of the Hutton report went for £400 at the event in London's Mayfair last year, with various Labour luminaries in attendance.

At no point did anyone seem to reflect that treating an official document about the death of a respected civil servant as some sort of novelty item might have been in bad taste.

But then, for Tony Blair and his colleagues, what was owed to Dr David Kelly in the way of decent treatment had never been much of an issue.

In the weeks before he was discovered dead in a wood in Oxfordshire on Friday, July 18, 2003, he was treated as a pawn in the Government's game against the BBC.

Even after he died, no one seemed particularly chastened. With his body deserve to have the world fall in on its head, as happened when the Hutton report was published in 2004.
With Alastair Campbell fanning the flames, the furore led to the resignations of the BBC's chairman and director general and forced its vicechairman Lord Ryder to make a public apology to the Government of such capitulation that I wanted to throw up when I heard it.

Yet during my investigation into Dr Kelly's death, I have obtained a secret report showing just how right he was to question the Government's integrity when he spoke to Andrew Gilligan.

It reveals the true extent to which Alastair Campbell misled MPs about his role in the whole affair.

At the end of June 2003, both Gilligan and Campbell found themselves called before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee which was investigating the basis on which we had gone to war against Iraq.

Campbell appeared on June 25 and he went on the offensive, accusing the BBC of 'lies' and demanding an apology.

Later, his diary recorded his satisfaction with his work that day.

He felt a lot better for having 'opened a flank' on the BBC, yet it seems that at the very time he was accusing others of dishonesty, he was being less than forthcoming himself.
Some months later, the FAC carried out a confidential analysis showing that when asked what role he had played in shaping the dossier, there were notable differences between the account he gave them and the one he later presented to the Hutton inquiry.

The report was never released but, though it was made available only to those MPs who were on the committee and my official request for a copy was refused, I managed to obtain one through other means.

Running to some 14 pages, this paper shows, for example, how Campbell told the committee that the draft dossier had said that Saddam Hussein had sought to secure illicit uranium and that he had asked if any had actually been obtained.

Yet the memorandum from Mr Campbell to John Scarlett, the spy chief nominally in charge of the dossier, revealed that, as one of many suggested drafting changes proposed by Campbell, he had written: "Can we say he has secured uranium from Africa?"

This was transparently not an inquiry about the facts but a request for a change in the wording.

Most crucially, the document showed that Campbell failed to tell the MPs of the pressure he applied on the so-called '45-minute claim'.

In the draft dossier, the relevant sentence read: "The Iraqi military may be able to deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so."
It was Campbell who suggested changing the cautious 'may be able to deploy' to the definitive 'are able to deploy'.

This was hugely significant.

Strangely, Tony Blair had assured the Commons earlier that month that there was no attempt by any member of Downing Street staff to override the intelligence judgments of John Scarlett and his colleagues.

"That includes the judgment about the so-called 45 minutes," he said.

Very plainly, that assurance was, as the quaint language of the Commons might put it, at variance with the facts.

These were far from the only changes made to the dossier at Campbell's suggestion.
In just one memorandum, he requested 16 changes in all, of which 13 called for a strengthening of the language used, implicitly making judgments on intelligence matters far beyond his remit.

This was utterly unacceptable but around half of these suggestions were accepted by Mr Scarlett.

No wonder Lord Hutton suggested that the spy chief may have been 'subconsciously influenced' by political considerations.

Tony Blair's foreword, written by Campbell and signed off by Scarlett, has some of the most assertive and hence most unjustified language in the dossier, and here, too, the editing is key.

How extraordinary to remember that, in the first draft, this foreword had Blair saying: "The case I make is not that Saddam could launch a nuclear attack on London or another part of the UK (he could not)."

This vitally important point, putting the claim in context, was removed from the final version.

The fact that the 45-minute claim related only to battlefield munitions, rather than long-range missiles of mass destruction, was obscured, and indeed Tony Blair, somewhat incredibly, claimed he only found out about it in the summer of 2004.

This was later contradicted by Robin Cook, his former Foreign Secretary.
He was clear that before the invasion of Iraq he had been briefed by John Scarlett that the weapons in question were only battlefield ones.

Mr Cook had discussed the matter with Blair so he was understandably 'mystified' to hear Blair say that he hadn't understood the distinction.

'Given that the Prime Minister was justifying war to the nation on the grounds that Saddam was a serious threat to British interests, he showed a surprising lack of curiosity as to what that threat actually was,' Mr Cook said.

The implication is clear. Both Blair and John Scarlett did indeed know that Saddam had no long-range WMD capability, but chose deliberately to use language that allowed a contrary impression to be formed.

The Government's lack of remorse about this was apparent when Geoff Hoon was asked at the Hutton inquiry about the newspaper stories which had greeted the publication of the dossier in September 2002.

'BRITS 45 MINS FROM DOOM' and '45 MINUTES FROM ATTACK - dossier reveals Saddam is ready to launch chemical war strikes' were typical of the headlines.

None of this was remotely true, of course, and it is clear that nobody in the intelligence services or at the top of Government believed that it was.

One might have thought that they would have wanted to correct these very misleading stories.

Instead, they seemed happy for this alarmist picture to be painted, as a supremely indifferent Geoff Hoon demonstrated to Andrew Caldecott, counsel for the BBC at the Hutton inquiry.

The exchanges are worth recalling in full.

Caldecott: "Why was no corrective statement issued for the benefit of the public in relation to those media reports?"

Hoon: "I have spent many years trying to persuade newspapers and journalists to correct their stories.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair denied 'leaking' Dr David Kelly's name

"I have to say it is an extraordinarily time-consuming and generally frustrating process."

Caldecott: "But Mr Hoon, you must have been horrified that the dossier had been misrepresented in this way.

"It was a complete distortion of what it actually was intended to convey, was it not?"

Hoon: "Well, I was not horrified."

After a few more such exchanges, the BBC's counsel pointedly asked: "Do you accept that on this topic at least you had an absolute duty to try to correct it?"

"No, I do not," replied Hoon.

I said that Hoon was supremely indifferent. Actually, it was worse than indifference.

It was contempt. Contempt for the inquiry process, for the questioner and, most of all, for the public.

The reason there was no enthusiasm to correct the stories is, of course, because they were exactly what the Government wanted to see as it pursued a foreign policy which positioned Britain firmly on the back wheel of President Bush's pennyfarthing.

But this particular deception cannot be laid at Bush's door. The U.S. administration was quite happy to flout international law and talk brazenly of regime change in Iraq.

It was only in order to satisfy British sensitivities that the convoluted, complicated and essentially dishonest talk of WMDs was generated.

In return for telling the truth about all this, David Kelly found himself 'outed' as Gilligan's mole in a manner that, I believe, made him a target for assassination by aggrieved Iraqi opponents of Saddam.

After his death, Tony Blair said it was 'completely untrue' that he had authorised the leak of Dr Kelly's name.

He was asked why the Ministry of Defence had confirmed the name to journalists.

"That's a completely different matter once the name is out there," he said. Yet the name was not out there at all until the ministry released a series of clues clearly implicating Dr Kelly.

Blair made much the same defence on the issue at the Hutton inquiry, although it was an unusually hesitant and uncertain performance.

Julia Quenzler, the freelance court artist who covered the inquiry from start to finish for the BBC, told me that Blair, normally such a polished performer, was the most nervous of all those who gave evidence before Lord Hutton.

He was clearly very uncomfortable for some reason.

For his part, Geoff Hoon insisted that his department had 'made great efforts to preserve Dr Kelly's anonymity'.

Presumably this included the instruction to confirm his name to journalists if it was offered.

It was Hoon's decision to force Dr Kelly to appear in public before the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, July 15, 2003.

In this, he overruled Sir Kevin Tebbit, the senior civil servant at the MoD, who felt it would be inappropriate.

According to reports, Hoon pulled rank in a rather unpleasant way, telling Sir Kevin that he would have to 'consider his future' if he refused to allow Dr Kelly to appear.

The FAC hearing - televised and taking place in the full glare of publicity - conjured up images of a Soviet show-trial.

Here was a witness, clearly intimidated and ill at ease, with his ministry minders sitting behind him.

Three days later Dr Kelly was dead.

Those who believe that he committed suicide suggest he may have buckled under the pressure of this appearance - but that is to ignore the fact that he was smiling as he left and was in good form before the Intelligence Committee the next day.

For reasons outlined throughout this series, I believe that he was murdered.

Not that the Government showed much sign of caring either way.

Within days of Dr Kelly's death, the Prime Minister and his wife had hit the headlines during a trip to China.

Their need to enjoy themselves clearly came ahead of any remorse for the death of one of Britain's most distinguished scientists.

While there, Mrs Blair astonished reporters when she took the microphone for a public rendition of The Beatles' When I'm 64.

Those watching could have been forgiven for wondering what her husband's choice of song would have been.

P. J. Proby's I Apologise would have seemed more than appropriate.

Extracted from The Strange Death Of David Kelly by Norman Baker, published by Methuen on November 12 at £9.99. ° Norman Baker 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Travesty of the truth: Was the Hutton Inquiry into David Kelly's death just part of the cover-up?

23rd October 2007

Comments (7)

Norman Baker is one of Westminster's most respected MPs.
In a major new book, he reveals the results of his year-long investigation into the death of weapons inspector David Kelly — and why he believes the scientist was murdered after exposing Tony Blair's lies over Iraq.

Here, he claims the Hutton Inquiry into Kelly's death was just part of the cover-up...
Even before I published the results of my investigation into the death of David Kelly, I knew what the reaction of senior politicians and commentators would be.
Scroll down for more...

Norman Baker has been investigating the death of David Kelly (pictured)

David Kelly: The belly-dancing spy whose secrets they just ignored
Could America have been involved in the death of Doctor Kelly?
Did Britain give a nod and a wink to the killers of Dr David Kelly?
Did two hired assassins snatch weapons inspector David Kelly?

"Not another conspiracy theory!" they always cry when confronted with anything that challenges the orthodox explanation of events.

"Such things don't happen in Britain."

Of course not. After all, it's not as though a Bulgarian dissident could be murdered at a London bus stop with a ricin-tipped umbrella, an Italian with close links to the Vatican be left hanging from Blackfriars Bridge, or a Russian dissident be poisoned with radioactive - polonium-210 at a sushi bar in Piccadilly, is it?

Those who seek to discredit my year-long inquiry into Dr Kelly's death, and my belief that he was murdered, will no doubt point to the findings of the Hutton Inquiry.

Costing £1.68million and hearing evidence from nearly 100 witnesses — from members of Dr Kelly's family to Tony Blair — this confirmed the official view that the scientist's death was suicide.

Yet, as we will see, the truth was hardly like to come out in this travesty of a process.
It was highly unconventional — not least in the way it was instigated.

At the time the body of the UK's leading weapons inspector was found in a wood on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire on the morning of July 18, 2003, the Prime Minister was aboard an aeroplane en route from Washington to Tokyo.

Yet by the time he touched down in Japan, he had already announced there would be a inquiry into the circumstances of the death, led by Lord Hutton, formerly Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.

Conspiracy? Lord Hutton's final report was flawed

This, no doubt, took the heat out of a very difficult situation for Mr Blair but, even so, the speed of the appointment startled many. Government wheels normally grind slowly.
According to journalists accompanying the then Prime Minister, he turned for advice during the flight to two of his closest allies: Charlie Falconer, the recently appointed Lord Chancellor, and his old Svengali, Peter Mandelson.

Mr Mandelson would certainly have been well acquainted with Lord Hutton from his stint as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

And yet when I tabled a Parliamentary question about his involvement in the appointment, I was told simply: "Mr Peter Mandelson played no part."

As this was completely at odds with the recollections of a number of journalists I had spoken to, I requested the background material used to draft this answer.

Noticeably absent from this material was any record of Mr Mandelson having been contacted to ask him for his recollections.

So it is unclear how the answer that he "played no part" could be quite so definitive.
Whoever was behind the decision, Brian Hutton was the ideal appointment for those looking to help the Prime Minister out of a dangerous spot.

He had only ever chaired one public inquiry — into the diversion of a river — but in his career as a judge he had always shown himself supportive of the forces of law and order and sympathetic towards the authorities.

On his appointment, he said that the Government had promised him "full cooperation". But the hearing was compromised from the start.

Unlike a full statutory inquiry — the setting up of which would have required Parliamentary debate, something the Government was keen to avoid — Lord Hutton's inquiry had no formal powers.

The Lord Chancellor argued that its informal nature would give Lord Hutton "flexibility of form" in conducting the inquiry as he felt appropriate.

That might better be described as the abandonment of procedures and safeguards essential in establishing the truth.

Witnesses could not be compelled to attend, and — since no one was required to give evidence under oath — they could not be found guilty of perjury if they lied.
Moreover, Lord Hutton had sole control over which witnesses were called, what documents were or were not produced and, to a large extent, what questions were asked or left unasked.

This was all the more alarming since Lord Hutton's inquiry took the place of a properly constituted coroner's inquest.

What did Nicholas Gardiner, the independent coroner in whose jurisdiction Dr Kelly's body was found, think of this very unusual departure? Not much, the evidence suggests.
Mr Gardiner had opened an inquest into Dr Kelly's death on Monday, July 21 — three days after the body was found.

Subsequently he was told by the Lord Chancellor that it should be adjourned to "prevent duplication" because Lord Hutton would now be looking into the matter, effectively supplanting him.

Clearly concerned about the informal status of the Hutton inquiry, Mr Gardiner wrote to the Lord Chancellor on August 6, suggesting that he might continue with his own inquest.

His letter, which I have seen, makes plain that he was unhappy at the way he was being marginalised.

"As you will know a coroner has power to compel the attendance of witnesses. There are no such powers attached to a public inquiry.

"If I do adjourn, I would be unable to resume, if at all, until after the public inquiry has been concluded and thus would not be in a position to assist Lord Hutton."

This was indeed the position, but it seems not to have worried Lord Hutton, who throughout his inquiry appeared unconcerned about what Mr Gardiner might or might not be doing or thinking.

Mr Gardiner's protests seem not to have been well received by the Lord Chancellor, who wrote back in blunt terms, insisting that he adjourn the inquest and not resume unless "an exceptional reason" arose.

It was reluctantly agreed that Mr Gardiner could first take evidence from the pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt and the forensic analyst Alex Allan, but he was asked to "keep the proceedings as short as possible" and take evidence in writing "so far as the Coroners' Rules allow".

The coroner was, it seemed, being bundled off the case.

More to the point, he was effectively being asked to cut corners in his own procedures.
Such pressure from a Government minister on a coroner is highly unusual.

On the basis of this truncated inquest, the coroner concluded that Dr Kelly had committed suicide by slitting his wrist and taking an overdose of coproxamol painkillers.
It is surely troubling that such a conclusion could have been based on this rushed process — especially as Alex Allan would later tell the Hutton Inquiry that Dr Kelly did not have enough coproxamol in his body to kill him.

This meant that one of only two witnesses at this peculiar inquest would presumably disagree with the contents of the death certificate that arose from it.

As for Dr Hunt, his appointment as pathologist was curious from the outset.
Given that this was an extremely high-profile death commanding front-page headlines, Mr Gardiner might have been forgiven for employing the most experienced person he could find.

Instead he chose Dr Hunt, who had been on the Home Office's register of approved forensic pathologists for only two years. And whatever assessment of the cause of death he gave when the coroner originally opened his inquest on July 21, he clearly had a change of heart in the days that followed.

In his letter of August 6 to the Lord Chancellor, Mr Gardiner says that "the preliminary cause of death given at the opening of the inquest no longer represents the final view of the pathologist".

We are not subsequently told in what way the pathologist had changed his mind.
Nor was Dr Hunt asked about this when he appeared before the Hutton Inquiry the following month.

Worryingly, the pathologist was not subject to any cross-examination, despite the curious aspects of the case.

Nothing is mentioned about the onset of rigor mortis, for example, though this is surely a key indicator for ascertaining time of death.

Nor do we learn whether a full battery of tests were done on the lungs, the blood, the heart or the soil — all vital in determining whether Dr Kelly might have been over-powered and poisoned, or whether he really could have bled to death after cutting his wrist, given the small amount of blood at the scene.

On that last question, it would surely have been helpful to know how much blood was left in Dr Kelly's body — but Dr Hunt's report does not even provide a measure of this.
These are all crucial pieces of forensic evidence that are simply missing.
Why were they not produced, and why did neither Lord Hutton nor James Dingemans, the inquiry QC, seek to elicit them?

And why, when Dr Hunt himself made interesting observations were they not followed through, but instead left hanging in the air?

At one point, for instance, he was asked if there were any signs of a third-party involvement in Dr Kelly's death.

His answer was intriguing. "The features are quite typical, I would say, of self-inflicted injury, if one ignores all the other features of the case."

What were these other "features"?

We do not know because Dr Hunt was not asked. Instead, Mr Dingemans asked him if there was anything further he would like to say on the circumstances leading to Dr Kelly's death.

"Nothing I could say as a pathologist, no," he replied.

Again, it was an enigmatic answer. Did no one think to ask him what he meant by this remark?

If Dr Kelly's death was indeed murder, covered up to resemble suicide, not many need have known the truth.

But some in authority may have suspected.

Very much against etiquette, Dr Hunt broke ranks on Channel 4 News in March 2004 to call for the coroner's inquest to be reopened.

It is possible to surmise that perhaps Lord Hutton was told the truth, and was asked to go along with the cover story for the sake of the country, although there is, of course, no evidence to this effect.

Certainly, I challenge anyone to say that the suicide verdict was settled "beyond reasonable doubt" on the basis of the evidence presented to Lord Hutton's inquiry.
On the contrary, the most sensational death of the year, and one of the most politically sensitive deaths in recent British history, was investigated to a less rigorous standard than would have been applied to any sudden or violent death subject to a normal inquest.
Lord Hutton himself does not accept that criticism.

Judges rarely comment on cases over which they have presided, but — perhaps stung by criticism of his performance — Lord Hutton has done so.

In a letter to me, he asserted: "You are under the misapprehension that my inquiry was not a rigorous investigation into the cause of Dr Kelly's death and into the question whether it was suicide or murder.

"The question was fully and thoroughly investigated."

Yet this assurance is brought into significant doubt by Lord Hutton's own hitherto little-noticed contribution to a highly specialist legal publication, The Inner Temple Yearbook for 2004/5.

In it, he wrote: "At the outset of my inquiry it appeared to me that a substantial number of the basic facts in the train of events which led to the tragic death of Dr Kelly were already apparent from reports in the press and other parts of the media.

"Therefore I thought that there would be little serious dispute as to the background facts… I thought that unnecessary time could be taken up by cross-examination on matters which were not directly relevant."

In other words, Lord Hutton appears, to a large degree, to have made up his mind in advance.

This perhaps explains why so many aspects of evidence appear to have been overlooked throughout the inquiry, not least when it came to the conduct of the police.
Anyone reading the transcripts of their evidence is left with a feeling of dissatisfaction, even unease.

After Dr Kelly's death, for example, the Daily Mail received a number of letters and telephone calls reporting that there were men in black clothes on Harrowdown Hill early on in the morning, significantly before Dr Kelly's body was officially found.

After plotting the positions of his officers, Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page told the inquiry he was satisfied that the men in question were police officers, but we are not told their names or what they were doing there.

As to the officers who gave evidence, they seemed unable to agree on such basic details as how many of them were at the scene, and their testimony also conflicted with that of civilian witnesses.

Earlier in this series, I described how two members of the search party that first found Dr Kelly said that he was sitting propped up against a tree. They made no mention of a knife.

Yet by the time we come to the testimony of the police officers, we are told that he was lying on his back and that there was a knife beside him.

Clearly someone was mistaken or some adjustment was made to the scene.
This supports my view that someone wanted to make Dr Kelly's death look like suicide — but Lord Hutton seemed unperturbed by these anomalies.

He suggested in his final report that where the police officers disagreed among themselves, this suggested that they were honest because otherwise they would have colluded beforehand to produce identical stories.

Had their accounts been consistent, would Lord Hutton then have concluded that the officers were, therefore, not revealing all they knew? Clearly not.

The implication of such an approach is that, no matter what the police said, Lord Hutton was going to believe it.

When his final report was published, it was its political conclusions that captured the headlines.

These would, of course, provoke widespread derision and anger, as he cleared the Government of virtually everything, and came down like a landslide on the heads of the BBC.

In all the fuss, the question of whether Lord Hutton had properly investigated the death of David Kelly was completely overlooked.

Clearly, though, Thames Valley Police were happy with the result.

When Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page retired last year, the eulogy at his farewell dinner was given by none other than Lord Hutton himself.

I learned of this from a police officer who declared himself very surprised that Lord Hutton should have been in attendance.

I asked Lord Hutton for a copy of what my contact had described as his "long and fulsome" speech but he was unable to provide me, with one, telling me that his comments had been impromptu.

Lord Hutton himself has also retired.

His inquiry into the death of David Kelly was his last major endeavour and is what he will always be remembered for, but it must not be allowed to be the last word on the subject.

David Kelly was a good man and we owe it to him to set aside the farce of the Hutton Inquiry, and create a new process that examines this matter officially, openly and with the rigour we are entitled to expect.

Extracted from THE STRANGE DEATH OF DAVID KELLY by Norman Baker, published by Methuen on November 12 at £9.99. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Did two hired assassins snatch weapons inspector David Kelly?

22nd October 2007

Weapons inspector David Kelly was the decent man apparently hounded to suicide after exposing Tony Blair's lies on Iraq.

But the crusading MP Norman Baker felt sure there was something more to his death - and gave up his front-bench role to investigate the case.

In the Mail he revealed extraordinary evidence that he believes proves Kelly did not take his own life and was instead murdered by Iraqi dissidents. Here, he reveals how the murder may have been carried out . . .

While investigating the death of Dr David Kelly I have made many strange discoveries, not least some disturbing parallels with the case of a young American journalist named Danny Casolaro.

Mr Casolaro made himself deeply unpopular with elements in the murky world of U.S. defence by probing too deeply into their activities.

One morning in August 1991, he was found dead in a hotel room near Harpers Ferry in Virginia. He was in the bath, naked, with his wrist slashed.

There were no signs of bruising or other marks on the body and the police concluded that he had committed suicide.

But this was totally false according to Dr Christopher Green, who was the CIA's chief forensic pathologist for decades.

Could America have been involved in the death of Doctor Kelly?
Did Britain give a nod and a wink to the killers of Dr David Kelly?

Dr Green participated in Casolaro's autopsy and last year he told veteran White House reporter Sterling Seagrave that the young journalist had been killed before being stripped, put in a full bath, and his left wrist cut in precisely the same manner as Dr Kelly's.

And as with Dr Kelly, there was remarkably little blood, bar a small amount smeared on the edge of the tub, suggesting that the wrist wound had been inflicted after the heart had stopped pumping.

This compelling demonstration of how effectively a murder can be disguised as suicide drove me on in my search for the truth about Dr Kelly, who was found dead in an Oxfordshire wood on July 18, 2003, having apparently taken his own life.

Before Danny Casolaro died, the journalist had been investigating the activities of America's private security companies which, according to Sterling Seagrave, are linked to the 'Grey Ghosts' - an army of professional killers commissioned by the Pentagon to carry out assassinations.

The similarities between the two men's deaths led Seagrave to suggest that Dr Kelly might also have fallen victim to these shadowy figures.

After all, he was the source behind a BBC report that the British government had 'sexed up' intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. This can hardly have been well received by the White House.

As I explained in Saturday's Mail, my own information strongly suggests that those behind Dr Kelly's death were Iraqi dissidents opposed to Saddam Hussein's regime and angry at Dr Kelly for undermining the case for toppling him.

A well-placed source also told me that the British police or security services had been warned of a likely assassination attempt but were not in time to stop it.

Did they then try to disguise the murder as suicide for reasons of political expediency?
To understand what may have happened, we must return to Thursday, July 17, the day
Dr Kelly disappeared. That morning he was at home with his wife Janice in the village of Southmoor and it must be said that none of his behaviour fits the profile of a man about to commit suicide.

In her evidence to the Hutton inquiry into Dr Kelly's death, his wife said he was 'tired, subdued, but not depressed'. Indeed, it seems it was Janice Kelly, not her husband, who was more seriously under par.

During phone calls that morning, Dr Kelly told a colleague that he was basically 'holding up all right', but that his wife was having a difficult time, both physically and mentally, under the pressure of long-standing ill health and the political storm that had engulfed them.

At lunchtime she went to bed with a nauseous headache and arthritis pains. He, on the other hand, appears to have carried on working normally, eaten some lunch and taken the trouble to go upstairs to check on his wife, shortly before 2pm, to see how she was feeling.

Given his obvious concern, it hardly seems likely that he would want to exacerbate matters for her by committing suicide that day.

Dr Kelly told his wife he would be going out for one of the regular walks he took to help his bad back. These were normally short affairs lasting no more than 25 minutes.
Mrs Kelly estimates that her husband left the house shortly after 3pm. With him, we are led to believe, he had the knife later found by his corpse and three packets of the painkillers his wife took for arthritis. These would later be discovered in his jacket pocket - empty but for one of the 30 tablets.

According to the Hutton inquiry, Dr Kelly set out on that walk intent on killing himself.
But, if so, why does he appear to have waited so long before doing it?

Since the pathologist inexplicably failed to take Dr Kelly's body temperature when he first arrived on the scene the following day - a standard procedure which would have helped give an accurate time of death - we have to make our own deductions about when he died.

The pathologist offered a wide window of between 4.15pm on Thursday and 1.15am on Friday. But there is every reason to think this window is far too wide.

The Hutton inquiry heard that after Dr Kelly's body was found on Friday morning, two paramedics moved his arm away from his chest at about 10am so that they could attach electrodes and confirm that he was dead.

Clearly, rigor mortis - the stiffening of the body - had not yet fully set in. Since it is generally accepted that it reaches its peak after 12 hours, we can assume that Dr Kelly most likely died at some time after 10pm on the Thursday night, and quite possibly much later.

What then happened to him in the missing hours - at least seven of them - between leaving home and supposedly killing himself?

The last person known to have seen Dr Kelly alive was his neighbour, Ruth Absalom, who met him about three-quarters-of-a-mile from his home.

They passed the time of day briefly before going their separate ways. Dr Kelly's parting words were: "See you again then, Ruth."

According to Ms Absalom, he was heading towards the nearby village of Kingston Bagpuize.

That would be consistent with a circular half-hour walk back to his house - but in quite the wrong direction to reach Harrowrecords-down Hill, the lonely area of woodland where his body was discovered.

One of the few clues to what happened next is that Dr Kelly's phone was switched off when a colleague from the Ministry of Defence tried to call him between 5pm and 6pm.
This was odd. Dr Kelly himself would tell friends that his mobile was always on and, given that he had been in regular contact with the MoD that morning, and that the furore surrounding him was developing from hour to hour, it seems unlikely that he would have turned it off or let the battery run down.

If he did indeed intend to commit suicide, turning off his phone could be seen as a preliminary step. But for reasons I have made clear, I do not believe suicide is a credible explanation for his death.

This leaves us with an alternative possibility. Did someone else turn Dr Kelly's phone off so that his movements could not be traced via signal kept by the phone company? In other words, was he forcibly abducted?

If he headed in the direction Ms Absalom described, his walk would probably have taken him along Appleton Road, a quiet and rather empty stretch with only sporadic development alongside.

From there he is likely to have turned right into Draycott Road, which is even more deserted. A no-through road with some derelict buildings part-way down, it peters out into a footpath at the end.

On either of these roads it would certainly have been relatively easy for determined abductors to have forced the 59-year-old weapons inspector into a van without anyone seeing.

According to the information I have been given, the murder itself was carried out by a couple of not very well-paid hired hands.

As to the method used, I am told that they gave Dr Kelly an injection in his backside, which perhaps points to the use of succinylcholine, a white crystalline substance that acts as a muscle relaxant.

For less beneficent purposes, it can be used to induce paralysis and cardiac arrest and frequently goes undetected in post-mortems.

I asked Thames Valley Police whether the body had been checked for the presence of this or a similar substance. They told me that they did not know.

If this was not the substance used then, alarmingly, there appear to be a large number of other ways in which Dr Kelly might have been killed that would be difficult or even impossible to trace.

For this we can no doubt partly thank the work of Project Coast - a highly unpleasant chemical and biological warfare programme run by the South African government from 1981 onwards to develop exactly such capabilities.

With aims including the creation of a biological weapon designed to attack the black population while leaving whites unscathed, its prime mover was Dr Wouter Basson, variously described as 'the South African Mengele' and 'Dr Death'.

Ironically, in the week before Dr Kelly died, it is alleged he was due to be interviewed by MI5 about his links with Dr Basson, who in 1985 had visited the Porton Down research centre, where Dr Kelly was then head of the Chemical Defence Establishment.

This visit had happened at a time when Mrs Thatcher's government claimed that the South Africans were developing biological and chemical weapons solely for defensive purposes.

Only later was it revealed that they were working on chemicals such as parathion, an organophosphate that can be introduced into the body through hair follicles, perhaps under the arm or around the crutch.

This causes vomiting - evidence of which could be seen on Dr Kelly's body - and leads to a respiratory attack. It is extremely difficult to detect traces of such a chemical in the body, unless you know what you are looking for.

When I tracked down Wouter Basson at his home in the Western Cape earlier this year, I asked him if he thought Dr Kelly had been murdered.

He paused, as if choosing his words carefully, then replied that Dr Kelly 'didn't seem the sort to commit suicide'.

He was also in no doubt that the UK, and indeed other Western countries, have a capacity for assassination.

Other possible methods of killing Dr Kelly included the use of saxotoxin, found in some shellfish and known as the CIA Shellfish Toxin, after its alleged use by that agency to kill one of their targets. Even a tiny amount is effective seconds after injection and is completely untraceable after autopsy.

One private detective even suggested to me that Dr Kelly's killers might have made gruesome misuse of the equipment employed by undertakers in embalming, placing a tube into an artery and forcibly pumping the blood out of the body.

This would cause unconsciousness and then death, and reinforce the assumption that the victim had lost a lot of blood through a cut - the conclusion reached by Lord Hutton in Dr Kelly's case.

The detective told me that this process did not need access to a main artery like the jugular, but could be achieved through, say, the ulnar artery.

This was the one slashed with a knife in Dr Kelly's wrist. Was that incision an attempt to cover up the artery's previous use?

Another ghastly suggestion came to me from someone who signed themselves only as 'Nemesis'. Their letter alleged that he or she had been told by a 'member of the non-English diplomatic corps' that air had been introduced into Dr Kelly's bloodstream through a needle in a vein.

Apparently, if present in sufficient quantities, air in the major organs will kill and leave no scar. 'Nemesis' was in no doubt that this was how Dr Kelly's life had ended. "His heart and lungs were full of air," the letter said.

We know that the pathologist did retain one of Dr Kelly's lungs and some blood to test for substances such as chloroform but Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page, who gave evidence at the Hutton inquiry, revealed that the tests to the lung had not actually been carried out.

This was, he said, because no suspicious substances had shown up in the blood tests.
Whatever method might have been used to murder Dr Kelly, we have to wonder why those responsible did not kill him immediately. There would have been no insurmountable obstacles to doing so, after all.

Perhaps his kidnappers wanted an opportunity to take him into the woods at Harrowdown Hill under cover of darkness to minimise the chances of being spotted or disturbed.

It certainly would not have been difficult to have given him a shot to render him temporarily unconscious until his assailants forced him to walk to the spot where he would be killed and found the next day.

If they drove him there, the closest they could have got by road was about half a mile from where his body was found.

That walk is rather a public one, but there is another route and one seemingly not investigated by the police.

This path runs from a remote reach of the River Thames, about 500 yards away, up through a field and into the woods. With no houses or other dwellings nearby, anybody walking here is unlikely to be seen, particularly in the dead of night.

Intriguingly, this area was searched the following morning by Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman, the two volunteers who eventually found Dr Kelly's body.

They told the Hutton inquiry that some time after beginning their search at 8am they came across a group of three or four people in a boat and had a brief conversation with them.

Who they were, and what they were doing on the river at that time of the morning, has never been established. They could, of course, have been holidaymakers. But was the truth more sinister?

- EXTRACTED from The Strange Death Of David Kelly by Norman Baker, published by Methuen on November 12 at £9.99, copyright Norman Baker 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kelly family appeals for calm after new murder claims by MP

Brian Brady and Rachel Shields

21 October 2007

The family of David Kelly, the government weapons expert, last night appealed for him to be allowed to rest in peace as an MP claimed that he was assassinated to stop him revealing more details about the "lies" that took Britain to war in Iraq.

The outspoken Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, who has spent four years campaigning for a public investigation into the death of Dr Kelly, claims he has unearthed fresh evidence that raises significant questions over the official verdict that the scientist killed himself by slashing his wrist and taking an overdose of painkillers.

In a book to be published next month, Mr Baker will claim that Dr Kelly, who blew the whistle on the "dodgy" Iraq dossier, was murdered, possibly by anti-Saddam Iraqis who supported the invasion. The "crime" was allegedly covered up by the British authorities.
The MP for Lewes highlighted alleged inconsistencies in evidence surrounding the case, including the disclosure that no fingerprints were found on the knife Dr Kelly used to cut his wrist – and questions about the amount of blood found at the scene.

But details of the latest twist in the Kelly saga provoked an angry reaction from his close relatives last night. Dr Kelly's brother-in-law, Michael Pape, said the family did not want to comment further on a tragedy that was investigated in public during the 10-week Hutton inquiry in 2003.

"It is just raking over old bones," said Mr Pape, who is married to Dr Kelly's sister, Sarah, a plastic surgeon. "I can't speak for the whole family, but I've read it all [Baker's theories], every word, and I don't believe it.

"All that stuff about there only being a small amount of blood found on the ground, it doesn't make sense – blood seeps through soil. Even if there was only a bloodstain the size of a 2p piece on the ground, the rest will have sunk down into the soil. If he'd been found on tarmac, it would have spread all around him."

Mr Baker's claims that he had uncovered new information relating to the Kelly case also received a cool reception from police and fellow politicians who took part in a number of investigations into the circumstances leading up to the scientist's death.

A spokeswoman for the Thames Valley Police, which led the investigation into his death, said the force had no intention of reopening its investigation.

Lord Foulkes, a member of the parliamentary committee that quizzed Dr Kelly shortly before he died, after he had been "outed" as the mole who revealed doubts over the case for war on Iraq, questioned Mr Baker's motivations. He said: "If this came from anyone else, people might be more inclined to believe it. I don't want to castigate Norman, but he is one of the usual suspects when it comes to coming up with conspiracy theories."

Mr Baker said: "The more I examined [the verdict], the more it became clear to me that Hutton's judgment was faulty and suspect in virtually all important respects." His book, The Strange Death of David Kelly, makes a number of claims. He says that no fingerprints were found on the knife allegedly used by the scientist to cut his wrist; that there was " remarkably little" blood at the scene, despite death being officially recorded as due to a severed artery; that only one other person in the UK committed suicide in the same way in 2003; and that the level of painkillers found in Dr Kelly's stomach was "less than a third" of a normal fatal overdose.

His book contains details of meetings with "informants" who, he claims, provided confidential background details of the alleged operation to assassinate Dr Kelly. The MP alleges that opponents of Saddam Hussein feared Dr Kelly would "discredit" them by revealing "misinformation" they had planted to bolster the case for British and American intervention in Iraq.

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The point about the blood is not that there was not much blood on the ground -- naturally, a large part of it would have have seeped into the soil; the point is, that it is extremely unlikely, according to practising London-based vascular surgeon John Scurr (and several other doctors/surgeons), that Dr Kelly could have lost much more than a pint of blood from transecting a single ulnar artery. No one dies from losing a pint of blood. The primary cause of death - given by the forensic pathologist as "haemorrhage" -- is therefore very unconvincing.

The paramedics who gave the press conference in 2004 were shocked, less by the small amount of blood on the ground, as by the fact that very little blood (almost none) was found splashed onto Dr Kelly's clothing. They had attended hundreds of suicide scenes over a period of 15 years, and in all the wrist-slashing cases there had been extensive blood splattering on the clothing - "like a chainsaw massacre", one said.

Rowena Thursby