Thursday, August 31, 2006

August 31, 2006

New weapons cover-up revealed...

It has been revealed today that weapons inspector and former senior Australian diplomat Dr John Gee, resigned from the Iraq Survey Group in 2004, warning in a six-page letter to foreign minister Alexander Downer that he had no faith in the integrity of the weapons searching process (see below). The Iraq Survey Group's activities were, in his view, to all intents and purposes determined by the CIA. Trusted sources informed him that orders were issued that his letter was not to be circulated outside Downer's department.

In the same year, John Scarlett of Britain's MI6, pressed hard for 'nine nuggets' to be inserted into the Iraq Survey Group's final report. Gee's colleague, weapons inspector Rod Barton said:

'I couldn't believe it,'.... 'He was suggesting dragging things from a previous report [that the ISG had been found to be false] to use them to, well, "sex it up". It was an attempt to make our report appear to imply that maybe there were still WMD out there. I knew he had been responsible for your [government's] dossier and then I realised he was trying to do the same thing.'

In the event, Scarlett's 'nuggets' were left out. Barton thinks, had he resigned (as Dr Gee did), they may have been in the final report.

It is instructive to observe how attempts to 'sex up' dossiers and reports continued long after Dr Kelly's death on 17/18 July 2003. Had Dr Kelly lived to supervise the Iraq Survey Group's activities out in Iraq during a visit planned for 26 July 2003, it would have been much more difficult to pursue that line.

Rowena Thursby
Kelly Investigation Group
If you have further important information tel: 01425 638409 or 01425 620297

Weapons cover-up revealed

by Marian Wilkinson

August 31, 2006

THE Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, issued instructions to suppress a damning letter about the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the war, a former senior diplomat says.

Dr John Gee, an expert on chemical weapons, worked with the US-led weapons hunter, the Iraq Survey Group, after the war and wrote the critical six-page letter when he decided to resign in March 2004. In it he warned the Federal Government the hunt was, "fundamentally flawed" and there was a "reluctance on the part of many here and in Washington to face the facts" that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

Dr Gee recorded in an email soon after that "Downer has issued instructions it [my letter] is not to be distributed to anyone". He wrote to a colleague in the Iraq Survey Group that a senior official in the Office of National Assessments, the Prime Minister's intelligence advisory agency, had told him about Mr Downer's instructions.

In another email, Dr Gee said the head of the Defence Department, Ric Smith, told him the department did not receive a copy of the letter even though Dr Gee was working in Iraq under contract to it. Dr Gee said senior defence officials told him the Department of Foreign Affairs "had not passed the letter on to Defence".

Last night, a spokesman for Mr Downer said the minister "did not recall" receiving Dr Gee's letter but said he would check. But he described as "a conspiracy theory" material showing that the letter had not been given to the head of the Defence Department. "I have heard a lot of conspiracy theories over the years, but I have not heard that one before."

However, documents given to the Herald, including Dr Gee's resignation letter and his emails to another senior weapons inspector, Rod Barton, reveal serious efforts to contain his findings.

Mr Downer has previously admitted that he was briefed personally by Dr Gee on the expert's return from Iraq. But Mr Downer has never revealed the contents of that briefing. From the emails, it appears Mr Downer received the damning findings months before he and the Prime Minister, John Howard, accepted that no weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq.
One month after his briefing with Dr Gee, Mr Downer met the US head of the Iraq Survey Group, Dr Charles Duelfer. At their press conference, Mr Downer insisted the weapons hunt in Iraq "was still a work in progress" and he could not draw conclusions.

But Dr Gee's emails reveal he briefed every senior level of the Government, including the Prime Minister's office, Defence and Mr Downer's Iraq Task Force, upon his return from Baghdad. They also indicate Mr Downer knew of his letter. The letter stated: "I now believe that there are no WMD in Iraq and that while the ISG has found a number of research activities … it has found no evidence so far on ongoing WMD programs of the type I had assumed would be there."

Summing up his difficulties in Baghdad, Dr Gee wrote: "I have concluded that the process here is fundamentally flawed …"

He wrote that the Iraq Survey Group was "run by the CIA to protect the CIA".
According to one email, the defence chief, Mr Smith, on hearing the briefing, said: "So we've got a problem." Mr Smith told him "the only way to deal with bad news is to deal with it promptly and get it out of the way".

Despite this, when Dr Gee tried to hand defence officials a copy of his letter, they declined to take it.

Yesterday Mr Barton, who also resigned from the hunt, told the Herald that Mr Downer and Mr Howard should have raised his and Dr Gee's complaints about the Iraq Survey Group with the US.

"When the two senior Australians quit, and make it plain why they quit, because the process was corrupt, I think the least the Government could do was to go and talk to the Americans and ask what was going on here".

Monday, August 28, 2006


Interest in Dr Kelly's death remains high. People want to know if in the same way 'intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy' , this troublesome scientist's demise was fixed according to the government's wishes.

After hundreds of hours spent analysing evidence given to the Hutton Inquiry and questioning witnesses, the Kelly Investigation Group has all but overturned the three official causes of death.

It has been established:

1. Dr Kelly could not have bled to death from the wound in his left wrist. From a single transected ulnar artery one would lose at the most, one pint of blood; to die of haemorrhage one has to lose 4 to 5 pints. One of the paramedics at the scene, shocked at the absence of blood, remarked to his colleague:

'Whatever he died of, he didn't die of that'.

2. Contrary to the impression given at the Hutton Inquiry, forensic toxicology cannot accurately ascertain the level of medication a person has taken before death. After death, over time, concentrations of a drug can increase as much as tenfold. The toxicologist stated, based on measurements done at least 30 hours after death, the amount of co-proxamol in Dr Kelly's bloodstream was a third of what is normally a fatal amount. If measured at the time of death, the actual amount could have been a tenth of that - in other words, Dr Kelly may only have taken 2 or 3 tablets - little more than the therapeutic dose.

3. The forensic pathologist offered no evidence that the atherosclerosis found post mortem played a significant part in Dr Kelly's death. He did not die from a heart attack; if he had, the forensic pathologist would have said so at the Hutton Inquiry.

So how did Dr Kelly die? We have yet to discover.

We know that Dr Kelly's body was moved: once before it was discovered by two search volunteers, and once after it had been discovered -- during the half hour a police detective was supposedly guarding it.

A dead body that moves suggests, at the very least, some kind of illicit activity.

Through parliamentary questions, MP Norman Baker has uncovered a clandestine meeting that took place between the Coroner Nicholas Gardiner and figures at the Department of Constitutional Affairs - long after the inquest had been subsumed into Lord Hutton's inquiry and Gardiner had been relieved of his duties in the case. The idea behind this meeting was apparently to organise a full death certificate before the Hutton Inquiry had started to examine the death itself. (Normally an inquest is adjourned and a temporary death certificate issued until an inquiry confirms the cause of death).

An intelligence figure has come forward to say Dr Kelly's death was a 'wet disposal' (assassination made to look like suicide) - hastily performed.

Establishing the true means by which Dr Kelly met his death however, will require hard evidence.

We have shown there is a case to be answered, but much more can be achieved. With MP Norman Baker at a critical stage in his investigation, NOW is the time for anyone who knows anything that sheds light on how Dr David Kelly died to share what they know. If this British government scientist was 'removed' for being a thorn in the side of those who had mounted a full scale invasion of Iraq to gain control of the region, it must be exposed.

If you worked with Dr Kelly, knew him, were part of the police or forensic investigation - or know someone who might have direct knowledge about his death - explain your concern in confidence now. Please phone 01425 638409 or 01425 620297 - or e-mail


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Is Gilligan afraid of the truth?

By Rowena Thursby, Kelly Investigation Group

You would think a journalist whose BBC career was ruined by the death of Dr Kelly would be terrier-like in his determination to get at the truth. Not so Andrew Gilligan. Baker and the conspiracy theories are wrong' he states in his 24 July 'Evening Standard' article ‘Those who say Kelly was murdered are so wrong‘. But as no one has put up any 'theories', how can they be 'wrong?'

He's 'pretty sure' that David did commit suicide. But one man's 'pretty sure' is not good enough. Suicide, according to the law, must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. And this is one high-profile 'suicide' that leaves room for a disturbing amount of doubt.

A Motive for Murder

Gilligan maintains there was no real motive for anyone to murder Dr Kelly. MI5 and MI6, he says, don't 'pop off their citizens whenever they feel like it'. But maybe, when pushed, they do pop off the odd one or two. Given that the security services work on a highly compartmentalised, need-to-know basis, it is perfectly credible that cabals within MI5 or MI6 make 'rogue' decisions and then organise the dirty work. Kelly's death 'didn't do them much good' says Gilligan. Well actually, it did. The Hutton Inquiry provided a marvellous distraction from the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. After it was over and Kelly was out of the way, top spook John Scarlett could go on weaving his lies about WMD more or less unchallenged. Ten months after Kelly’s death he was promoted to head of MI6.

Privy to highly sensitive information as Head of Microbiology at Porton Down from 1984 to 1992, and as Senior Advisor on Biological Weapons to UNSCOM from 1994-99, Dr Kelly was subject to a rigorous vetting procedure. We know he was being vetted in the months prior to his death, so it is likely that his every move was being watched. In a whispering campaign, a spokesman for the Prime Minister dubbed him a ‘Walter Mitty' figure and a 'fantasist', while Sir Kevin Tebbit of the MoD called him 'eccentric and unreliable'. But in reality the most dangerous quality to figures in power was his fierce regard for the truth.

Two lies were pivotal to the invasion of Iraq: one was that the mobile laboratories found in Iraq were evidence of WMD, and the other was that WMD could be launched from Iraq at British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes. Kelly demolished them both. It was he who had leaked to the Observer that the mobile laboratories were not for WMD, and it was he who had expressed deep unhappiness with the claim that WMD could be launched from Iraq in 45 minutes. Kelly was one of the most senior and highly-respected weapons inspectors. His return to Iraq on 26 July 2003, a date that was confirmed by the MoD the day before he disappeared, would have risked his being able to demonstrate conclusively that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Strong Medical Evidence

If he were genuinely interested in the true medical cause of Dr Kelly's death, Gilligan would have taken a close look at the objections raised to the official line.

Rather than interrogate the nine medical members of the Kelly Investigation Group (KIG), two of them vascular surgeons, he tries to counter the main arguments against suicide by selecting the dismissive blusterings of Professor Chris Milroy, a forensic pathologist with no access to the post mortem report, yet who asserted with confidence that Dr Kelly had taken 'a substantial overdose'.

True, there was considerably more than a therapeutic dose of co-proxamol in Dr Kelly's blood, but according to Richard Allan, the forensic toxicologist reporting to the Hutton Inquiry, nowhere near enough to kill him. According to the actual blood tests, Dr Allan declared the amount of co-proxamol in Dr Kelly's blood was a quarter to a third of what is normally a fatal amount.

It has largely been assumed, that because 29 tablets of the painkiller co-proxamol were missing from the three blister packs in Dr Kelly's pockets, that he took all 29. Even if that were so, he could not have assimilated them all, because he regurgitated a large part of his stomach contents.

Attempting to gauge how much of a particular drug a person took before their death is not an exact science. One of Milroy's colleagues at the University of Sheffield, forensic toxicologist Professor Robert Forrest, has helpfully pointed out that drug concentrations in the blood increase markedly over time. Since Dr Allan did not analyse Dr Kelly's blood for around 30 hours, the concentration of co-proxamol components may have increased up to tenfold. So while at the time of testing, Dr Allan judged the amount of co-proxamol in the blood to be only a third of what is normally a fatal amount, this could mean that the actual amount ingested by Dr Kelly 30 hours earlier, was far less than a third of a fatal amount - possibly as little as a thirtieth.

As well as increasing over time, the concentration of a drug is site-dependent, higher in some locations and lower in others. The forensic toxicologist has no way of knowing from which part of the cadaver the blood was taken; thus whatever the measurement, it will be of questionable value. In addition, because of biochemical individuality, the amount of a drug causing death in one person may not cause death in another.

Prompted by the KIG doctors' comments on the toxicology, and concerned about miscarriages of justice arising from misleading assessments on the amount of drug ingested, Professor Forrest set up the 'International Toxicology Advisory Group'.

In an article to the BMJ entitled 'Forensic Science in the Dock' the four authors assert:

‘Post-mortem measurements of drug concentration in blood have scant meaning.... The paucity of evidence-based science, coupled with the pretence that such science exists in regard to postmortem toxicology, leads to the abuse of process, almost certainly to miscarriages of justice, and possibly even to false perceptions of conspiracy and cover up.'

In the case of Dr Kelly, it may also have led to the false perception that forensic science confirmed suicide, when in fact, it is completely unable to do so.

Insufficient Blood?

The two paramedics attending Dr Kelly's body were so disturbed by the absence of blood at the scene that they called a press conference. Far from finding blood 'puddled around' as one of the policemen asserted, they saw little blood anywhere - a little dried blood on the wrist, a contact stain on one of the trouser knees, and not much else.

To have died of haemorrhage, Dr Kelly would have to have lost several pints of blood. Perhaps, writes Gilligan, the blood seeped into the ground. But where is the evidence that it seeped into the ground? Were soil samples taken? Did tests done on the soil show a large quantity of blood had seeped into the ground? Was it measured? We were never told. The Hutton barristers did not even put the question. Nor were we told the residual blood volume in Dr Kelly's body. If he had bled out, tests at autopsy would have made it apparent.

In any case, one of the fundamental points put by eminent surgeons - two of them specialists in vascular surgery - is that a single transected ulnar artery of matchstick size would have constricted and retracted almost immediately, and the blood would have clotted. In their view it would be unlikely that Dr Kelly would have lost more than around a pint of blood. Atherosclerosis, discovered at the post-mortem, would have made very little difference to blood flow. Haemorrhage then, is highly unlikely to have been - as stated on the death certificate and at the Hutton Inquiry - the primary cause of death.

What disturbed the paramedics was not so much the lack of blood per se, as the way the blood was distributed. A pint of blood spurting from an artery will still make a huge mess. As Vanessa Hunt explained:

'If you manage to cut a wrist and catch an artery you would get a spraying of blood, regardless of whether it's an accident... Because of the nature of an arterial cut, you get a pumping action. I would certainly expect a lot more blood on his clothing, on his shirt.

There was ‘arterial rain’ on the nettles - so why virtually none on his clothing? Under the circumstances he is hardly likely to have worried about keeping his shirt clean. Could it be that a third party held out Dr Kelly's left arm and slashed his wrist - thus spraying blood on the nettles but not on his clothes? It is certainly conceivable.

In support of this possibility, let us focus on Dr Kelly's injury. We are told a deep incision was made into his left wrist, severing the ulnar artery. Those who choose to commit suicide by slashing their wrists, normally slash both and sit in a warm bath. To slash only one out in the open air seems odd. The most successful method is to cut longitudinally along the arm, but when transected, the most common artery slashed is the radial because it is close to the suface. The ulnar lies beneath tendons deep within the wrist on the little finger side; even with a very sharp blade it is difficult to reach. Now which is more likely: Dr Kelly picks up his blunt pruning knife, the one he normally uses to cut branches on his walks, and avoiding the radial artery completely, forces it down through tendons into a tiny artery and slices it right through -- or an assassin with military training, picks up his left arm, uses Kelly's knife, and brutally slices down and across one side of his wrist?

Photographs of Dr Kelly's body show it was moved

Gilligan writes of 'confusion' about body position and fallibility of eye-witnesses. But there is no doubt. Dr Kelly's body was moved. We know that, not from eye-witness accounts, but from photographs. Photographs show the body in at least two different positions. In Chapter 5 of his report, Lord Hutton refers to a photograph which shows Dr Kelly's body slumped against the tree, and yet PC Martyn Sawyer, charged with taking official police photographs, stated to the Hutton Inquiry that Dr Kelly's body was lying horizontally on its back, away from the tree. The two search volunteers who discovered the body, were quite sure it was against the tree, and yet six subsequent witnesses, including the forensic pathologist, were unanimous in stating that it was lying flat on its back.

So who moved it? Between the time Dr Kelly's body was reported as being against the tree and the time it was reported lying on its back, DC Graham Coe professed to be standing guarding the body for about half an hour. The left trouser leg was pulled up exposing an ankle, suggesting the body was pulled down and away from the tree to a lying position. Had D C Coe been cross-examined, a reasonable question might have been: did you move Dr Kelly's body? If he did move the body -- why? Was he trying to revive him? Or was he trying to make the position of the body fit the fact that the vomit dried onto his face ran from the corners of his mouth to his ears, and also that livor mortis (pooling of the blood after death)showed (according to the forensic pathologist) that Dr Kelly died on his back?

Why would Dr Kelly commit suicide?

David Kelly was, as Gilligan says, largely defined by his work. He may have felt lost without it. But all the indications are that in one form or another, his work would have continued. The e-mails on the morning of his final walk, repeated again and again that he was looking forward to getting back to his ‘real work’ in Iraq. A date had been set for his return. Even if one of his final phone calls had been to tell him that trip was off, he still had the option of giving speeches and writing books in retirement - and had been in discussions with an Oxford publisher. With a number of good friends, his Baha'i faith, and his daughter Rachel's wedding on the horizon later that year, his future life was far from bleak.

Doubts Remain

Did this tough-minded scientist, a man 'whose brain could boil water' really choose a blunt old pruning knife from several in his study drawer, cut deep into his wrist through the toughest of tendons, and sever one tiny artery, in the hope that this and a handful of pills would somehow take his life? Not being likely does not make it impossible, no - but likelihoods sometimes tell a story. It is not for Andrew Gilligan to waft away significant and well-reasoned doubts.

Now deprived of a voice, the facts must speak for him. Dr Kelly used a forensic and precise approach to keep the world safe from the horrors of bioweapons. The same rigorous approach must apply to the details of his death. It has to be known, once and for all, whether Dr Kelly took his own life - or had it taken from him. To remove all doubt, we need what the Hutton Inquiry did not supply: a full set of forensic results and a rigorous cross-examination of relevant witnesses. Like every other citizen whose death cannot be properly explained, Dr Kelly needs an inquest - and as yet, he has not received one.

Monday, August 14, 2006


14 August 2006

Dear Sir

You would think a journalist who lost his BBC career over the death of Dr Kelly, would be fascinated by medical evidence suggesting the government scientist’s death was not suicide. Not so Andrew Gilligan. Rather than study the medical doubts in depth, he focuses on the dismissive comments of one forensic scientist with no involvement in the case. (‘Evening Standard’ 24/7)

While it is true there was a greater than therapeutic dose of co-proxamol in Dr Kelly's blood, the appointed toxicologist’s evaluation was that it was a third of what would have been needed to kill him.

Concentrations of a drug in the blood increase markedly post mortem (BMJ 2004;329:636-637). Analysis of Dr Kelly's blood took place around 30 hours after death. By this time the concentration of co-proxamol components could have increased as much as tenfold. Thus, at the time of death, the amount in the blood may have been not a third, but a thirtieth of a what is normally considered a fatal dose.

It has been assumed, that because 29 tablets of co-proxamol were missing from the blister packets in Dr Kelly's pockets, that he took all 29. But even if he did, he could not have assimilated all of them, because he threw up a significant part of his stomach contents.

The two key points about the blood are these: the amount lost would have been far too small to cause death, and the distribution was highly unusual.

Four surgeons have concurred that when a single ulnar artery is transected, it quickly constricts, retracts, clotting ensues, and blood-flow ceases - at most Dr Kelly would have lost about a pint of blood.

A transected artery initially pumps out blood under pressure as ‘arterial rain’. Paramedic Dave Bartlett, witness to hundreds of ‘arterial bleeds‘, asserted that in every case, 'there is a lot of blood. It's all over them.' He and fellow paramedic Vanessa Hunt were shocked to find no blood splashing of this type on Dr Kelly. As Bartlett remarked:

‘Whatever he died of he didn’t die of that’.

Rowena Thursby,
Kelly Investigation Group

Thursday, August 10, 2006


by Stotty [Richard Stott, Editor of Sunday Mirror, early 90s]

Sunday Mirror
30 July 2006

IT is a sad fact of life that when a horrible and unexpected death occurs there are always those who will not accept anything except conspiracy and murder. It happened to Diana and it is happening now to Dr David Kelly, the scientist who killed himself after being revealed as the weapons expert contact of the BBC's Andrew Gilligan.

A "dossier" of half-baked detail has been produced by the self-important Lib Dem MP Norman Baker which actually doesn't add up to a row of beans. Except some people will believe anything if it suits their purpose.

For Baker to get off square one he has to show two things. One, that somebody or some organisation would have benefited from Kelly's death. Two, there was no reason for him to take his own life and little prospect of him doing so. Neither is the case.

The Government, security services, Prime Minister etc. were the last people to want Dr Kelly dead because he discredited much of what Gilligan said and was in no position to know detail of the rest. His death plunged Blair and his government into a major crisis.

There was, however, a reason why Dr Kelly was desperate following his appearance before a House of Commons select committee. He did not tell MPs the truth about his own dealings with journalists. They knew that because he had been betrayed by Gilligan. He realised his future was in serious jeopardy and with it much of his life's work compromised.

Kelly was an intensely private man and could see the whirlwind about to strike. He decided not to wait for it. It is a tragedy that the meanderings of a bit-part MP should bring the pain back to Dr Kelly's family. He was a good man who made one mistake and decided to pay for it his way. Norman Baker should let it go.


Dear Sir

Even my mother - a life-long Mirror reader and until last week's article, 'Beware this MP's 'Dossier'", a keen fan of Stotty - was appalled. Enough discrepancies surround the case, before and after Dr Kelly's death, to fill a bestseller.

His corpse, according to the search volunteers who first discovered it, was propped against the foot of a tree. In his report, Lord Hutton admitted having seen a photograph of the body against the tree. But the official Thames Valley police search team told the Hutton Inquiry his body was lying horizontally, away from the tree.

In the horizontal position, one of his trouser legs was halfway up his shins, as if he had been pulled away from the tree by his feet. Why? The simple answer is gravity. Dr Kelly had dried vomit stains running from the corners of his mouth to his earlobe. This could only happen when laid horizontal.

His corpse was in all likelihood moved to cover the fact that the dumping of his body against the tree was a botched job. An unofficial Thames Valley police team - showed to the body by the searchers - had the opportunity to move it Given a proper inquest, with evidence taken under oath, a suicide verdict would be totally out of the question.

Pete Simpson
Berkshire UK

Friday, August 04, 2006

Those who say David was murdered are so wrong

by Andrew Gilligan
The Evening Standard
24 July 2006

An MP has produced a dossier that claims to show the death of Dr David Kelly was not suicide. But the man at the heart of the story disagrees.

I STILL remember, of course, how I heard about David Kelly's death. It started with a phone call, fairly early in the morning, from my friend Mick Smith, then the defence correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Kelly had gone missing, and the police were looking for a body.

Even then, as I sat worrying on the train into work, I couldn't really believe that he'd died. It must have been one of those muddles. Maybe he'd stayed over with a friend. Maybe he'd had an accident and hadn't been able to get help. Maybe he'd just decided to go off for a few days to relieve the pressure and would turn up in some hotel, a la Stephen Fry.

When I walked in to the office of Richard Sambrook, the BBC's director of news, he got up, closed the door and told me to sit down. While I had been on the way in, he said, not sounding like he believed it himself, Kelly's body had been found, and it looked like suicide. He had taken painkilling tablets and slashed one of his wrists.

If Sambrook sounded shaken, it was nothing to how I sounded. He had to get me a glass of water to calm me down.

As well as being upset, I was very, very surprised. I hadn't known David all that well - I'd never met his family, for instance - but he didn't strike me as the suicidal type, if there is such a thing.

He was quite used to confrontation and pressure: he'd been a weapons inspector in Iraq, for goodness sake. I thought his famous grilling by the Foreign Affairs Committee had been distasteful, and symptomatic of the committee's stupidity, but it hadn't been that bad.

And anyway, the affair was basically over: Parliament was about to break for the summer recess, the BBC had refused to confirm or deny whether David was my source, and the battle between Downing Street and the BBC had reached stalemate. Politics was closing down for a month. The row between the Government and BBC was essentially a diversion. All those spin-doctors, toady New Labour journalists and compliant MPs who had helped to keep it bubbling for the previous few weeks were about to disperse to Tuscan poolsides.

All David had to do was keep his head down and it would go away. The Government, I thought, was unlikely to discipline him for the partial admissions he had made about his contacts with me. They needed him more than he needed them. If anyone was going to find Tony Blair some weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it was David Kelly.

Such were my thoughts on that morning of 18 July 2003, thoughts that made me, at first, question whether David did actually kill himself. Now, almost exactly three years later, the indefatigable Lib-Dem MP, Norman Baker, has added some political weight to those questions.

Baker has produced what the Mail on Sunday describes as a "dossier" - not a good choice of word - which is said to "raise new questions" about the accepted cause of death.

I like Baker. I think he is one of the very few MPs who gets his teeth into ministerial legs. If there are grounds for supposing that David Kelly was indeed killed by somebody else, I do not believe that considerations of taste or offence to his family should prevent it being investigated. But I say to the world what I said to Baker when he asked me about it last year: I am pretty sure that David did commit suicide.

Baker and the conspiracy theories are wrong.

Even if the motives for David to kill himself do not, on the face of it, seem quite strong enough, the motives for anyone else to kill him are far, far weaker. In whose interests can it possibly have been to murder David Kelly? The Government's? But his death plunged the Government and New Labour into the greatest crisis in its history, a crisis from which it has still not recovered, a crisis that has some claim to be the turning point in the Blair premiership.

The intelligence services? But even if you accept the (wildly false) premise that MI5 and MI6 are rogue states within a state, popping off their own citizens whenever they feel like it, why on earth would they want to kill Kelly? His death didn't do them much good, either.

The Iraqis? The Saddam regime had dissolved weeks before and its members were hiding in holes. The Americans? Not without British permission, surely - and, again, where's the motive?

Looking at Baker's dossier, I notice that most of the "new questions" it raises are actually quite old. The most important piece of evidence questioning the official explanation is a letter written by three (later five) doctors to The Guardian newspaper as long ago as January 2004, providing statistics which showed that it was unlikely for death to be caused by slashing a minor artery, as David had done, and questioning the toxicity of the co-proxamol painkillers in his blood.

Baker has gone a little further, revealing the important fact that only one person - David Kelly - died in this way in the UK during the whole of 2003.

However, Chris Milroy, professor of forensic pathology at the University of Sheffield, points out that "the problem with the use of statistics in any single case is that 'unlikely' does not make it impossible". Furthermore, he said, "the toxicology [on Kelly] showed a significant overdose of co-proxamol".

There is also the argument that there was very little blood around David when he was discovered. Two ambulance workers who attended him, Dave Bartlett and Vanessa Hunt, said they would expect to find several pints of blood around someone who had died through slashing a wrist. They believe it "incredibly unlikely" that David died from the wound they saw.

David Kelly's place of death was, however, a field. Professor Milroy and another forensic pathologist, Professor Guy Rutty, suggested that the blood could easily have seeped into the ground.

Another explanation, said Professor Milroy, might be that David's heart condition may have made it difficult for him to sustain any significant blood loss.

Baker also says that calls to David's mobile were not checked by the police.

If the evidence of the police to Hutton is to be believed, they were checked. There is also some confusion about the position of the body, with different accounts from different witnesses. But eyewitnesses, as we know from the Jean Charles de Menezes case, are seldom consistent and not always reliable.

Anyone who has been involved in a court case or criminal trial knows that minor anomalies and inconsistencies often arise, and are not necessarily suspicious. Given the fallibilities of human memory, a set of neat, perfectly consistent accounts may actually be more suspect.

Baker is right to criticise the Hutton Inquiry; I was not alone in feeling that the tragedy at the centre of the piece was the one thing on which Hutton never really shed direct light.

But there were indirect shafts. We learned far more of the Government's extraordinary and contemptible behaviour towards David Kelly; the promises to protect him, the name game played to expose him, the offering him up to parliamentary committees, neither of whom actually wanted to see him until prodded by Downing Street. And all this in the service of a complete lie - that my famous story was "100 per cent wrong".

After learning about everything Kelly went through - the pressure, the endless interviews, the coaching sessions in what to say, the demands for a complete accounting of his contacts with journalists - it is easier to understand the road which led him to that Oxfordshire hillside.

And I think the evidence to Hutton did show me, and the other journalists who dealt with David Kelly, that we really knew rather little of him. We had no idea about his worries about his employment status. We knew nothing (why should we?) of his relationship with his wife - who, we discovered during the inquiry, was not even told he had taken up the Baha'i faith until nearly two years afterwards.

I came to the view after the inquiry that David was somebody - a type not entirely unknown in journalism, either - who defined himself almost entirely by his work. The fear of losing that work must have been terrifying to him, even if it was not a well-founded fear.

We learned that he was much more vulnerable than we had supposed. With the support of the UN and the Government in his weapons inspector role, he was a man of major achievement, and the confident, authoritative contact we had all known. Stripped of that support, isolated, furious at his treatment by his superiors, he did not realise that a lot of the whirlpool swirling around him was essentially Westminster chest-beating, political rhetoric. That was why the words turned deadly.

Lord Hutton had many failings. But the verdict of suicide on David Kelly was almost certainly one of the few things he got right.

Letters to the Evening Standard:


‘Very very surprised’ as he was, that David Kelly had committed suicide, Andrew Gilligan will not explore evidence -- unearthed by MP Norman Baker and others -- which suggests Dr Kelly’s death could not have been suicide. Far from being a terrier gnawing away to get to the bone marrow, he has accepted what he has been told!

A presumption of suicide will not do. The Hutton Inquiry was a charade. No one was subpoenaed, not a single witness cross-examined. Set up by one of Tony’s cronies and a judge with safe establishment leanings, it failed completely to investigate the cause and method of death. Suicide must be proved beyond all reasonable doubt -- it is not for Gilligan to try to sway us with his opinion.

As a doctor, I cannot accept that Dr Kelly bled to death. Without a clotting defect one cannot bleed to death from one cut ulnar artery. Where was the blood? Paramedics attending the scene were astonished at the absence of blood-staining on his clothes. They had attended literally hundreds of suicides -- in every single one the clothing was soaked in blood.

If details such as these are ever to be properly examined, we must have a proper coroner’s inquest. Lord Falconer misjudged the tragedy and the public response to it when he set up his inquiry - the public is too savvy to accept a whitewash. Let us have the truth - and please would Andrew Gilligan sharpen his mind and try to find it?

Yours sincerely

Dr C J Burns-Cox MD FRCP
Consultant Physician

Dear Sir,

Someone should tell Andrew Gilligan that suicide must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. His attempt to demolish the doubts and discrepancies outline by Norman Baker in his Mail on Sunday article was feeble.

Moving from a personal impression, ‘I am pretty sure the David did not commit suicide’; to a categorical assertion, ‘Baker and the conspiracy theorists are wrong’, Gilligan offers no concrete evidence for his views. He talks of a lack of motive as though it is evidence for suicide. It isn’t. He refers to some of the questions raised in Norman Baker’s Mail on Sunday article as ‘old’. Being old doesn’t make them less relevant.

Reference is made to Dr Kelly’s ‘overdose’ of co-proxamol. But, according to the forensic toxicologist the amount in his blood was insufficient to cause death. As for his ‘heart condition’, atherosclerosis is not something people die of, and the forensic pathologist presented no evidence of cardiac arrest.

Gilligan’s assumption that the blood would have seeped away is just that – an assumption; where is the evidence that it did?

Eyewitnesses, says Gilligan, are ‘seldom consistent’. But the two people who saw the body before the police took charge agreed the body was against the tree; and those who witnessed the body after the police took charge agreed it was lying on its back. No doubt about it.

Garrett Cooke

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dr Kelly: The questions that just won't go away

by Simon Edge

31 July 2006
The Daily Express

Three years after the apparent suicide of the weapons expert who blew the whistle on the 'dodgy dossier' that took us into the Iraq War, we reveal how the Government still avoids answering crucial points about his death

IT WAS the late summer of 2003 and all eyes were on the Royal Courts of Justice in central London. Day after day, witnesses to the Hutton Inquiry revealed how Tony Blair's fixers had pressed the intelligence services to deliver the reports he wanted in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Lord Hutton was also set to piece together the final hours of Dr David Kelly,the internationally respected weapons expert whose shock death had triggeredthe inquiry.

Elsewhere, a less transparent process was under way. On August 11, 10 daysafter the Hutton Inquiry opened, Home Office officials were holding a secret meeting with Nicholas Gardiner, the Oxfordshire coroner. It was he who had begun the formal inquest into Dr Kelly's death following the discovery ofthe body on July 18. The inquest had then been adjourned on the orders ofthe Lord Chancellor - the Prime Minister's ex-flatmate Lord Falconer - because establishing what happened was now the remit of Hutton.

But Mr Gardiner, based in the village of Cumnor near Oxford, was continuing his work anyway. Contrary to normal practice for such matters, he was doing it in private. On August 14, he met the pathologist who performed the post mortem and the toxicologist who examined Dr Kelly's body for drug poisoning - weeks before either man was due to testify to Hutton. Then, on August 18, he issued a death certificate. A full month before the public inquiry was due to hear any of the evidence from the beauty spot where the 59-year-old father-of-three had apparently committed suicide, Gardiner registered aprecise cause of death. In other words, the case was effectively closed before it had been opened.

This revelation, apparently now conceded by Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman under pressure from Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, has given further weight to the concerns of a growing group of senior medical and legal professionals - previously aired in the Daily Express nearly two yearsago - that the suicide conclusion cannot be justified on the available evidence.

"I find it most peculiar that the Oxfordshire coroner felt able to issue a full certificate giving reasons for death without taking formal evidence from those who were able to help determine the causes of death, " says MrBaker, who last weekend became the highest-profile figure to challenge the conclusion of the Hutton Inquiry that Dr Kelly killed himself. "The coroner issued the certificate when the inquiry set up to find thecauses of death had barely started, and when his own inquest had been suspended. I also find it disturbing that the coroner should have met HomeOffice officials shortly before deciding to issue a certificate. That seemsto border on the improper."

Questions are also raised by Michael Powers QC, a leading expert oncoroner's law. "There is provision for a coroner to issue an interim death certificate confirming that the person has died, where the precise cause ofdeath will be established later. I would have thought that, given the circumstances, issuing a full death certificate giving the cause of death is a bit unusual, " he says.

Dr Kelly was the country's foremost expert on the dismantling of biological weapons and regarded as having safe-guarded the future of the planet with hispainstaking work decommissioning lethal stocks built up by the former Soviet Union. He had been honoured in 1996 for his services to the UN and the UK, and was being considered for a knighthood. He was unknown to the public until he was revealed as the whistleblower in the row about the Government's "dodgy dossier" on Iraq.

He admitted briefing BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, who had accused the New Labour spin machine ofinserting false information into the dossier to boost the case for invasion. When Dr Kelly told his bosses at the Ministry of Defence that he had spoken to Gilligan, he was assured his anonymity would be preserved. Instead, he was thrown to the wolves. Two days after a humiliating appearance before a committee of MPs, he went for an afternoon walk near his Oxfordshire home, and never returned.

HE WAS found the next morning in circumstances which suggested he had committed suicide. There was no sign of struggle. His left wrist had been slashed with a gardening knife he had owned since boyhood and he had apparently taken an overdose of painkillers prescribed to his wife Janice. She testified that, on the morning of his death, she was physically sick when she saw how desperate and "shrunk" her husband looked.

After hearing the evidence and seeing only a fraction of the witness statements taken by the police, Lord Hutton concluded that Dr Kelly had taken his own life. He said the principal cause of death was bleeding from the wound to his wrist, accelerated by an overdose of Co-proxamol tablets anda pre-existing case of coronary artery disease.

Mr Gardiner had the option to resume the inquest once Hutton had issued his report but chose not to do so - not least because Mrs Kelly and her three daughters have repeatedly said they are satisfied with the cause of death.

However, many objective observers are not. A number of medical professionals and others have said that the cut to Dr Kelly's wrist had severed the smallest artery in the wrist, which in their view could not cause death. The paramedics said there was much less blood than they would have expected to see from a spurting artery. The toxicologist admitted there was not enough Co-proxamol in Dr Kelly's system to kill him. While it might look as if DrKelly had been trying to kill himself, the method he had chosen, experts argued, would not have succeeded.

Another oddity was the position of the body, said by the searchers who found it to be leaning against a tree but which later ended up lying flat some distance away. Lord Hutton was satisfied the different witnesses were describing the same sight but dissenters complained that Hutton did not hear evidence under oath and had no power to subpoena witnesses or have them rigorously cross-examined.

Mr Baker says that a proper inquest would have more likely got to the bottom of such puzzles. "There are the basic questions that went unasked, or at least unanswered, "he says. "Whose fingerprints were on the knife? Was there any DNA other than Dr Kelly's in the blood samples taken? Was Dr Kelly's watch, which lay beside him, broken or intact? What time did it show? What were the last calls made to the mobile phone he had on him? We do not know and Lord Huttondid not ask."

Michael Powers says part of the problem was that the overwhelming focus of interest was the political background to the affair, such as the alleged"sexing-up" of the dossier and the question of whether the Prime Minister had lied in taking the country to war. "I have a feeling that it was taken for granted that this was suicide and it was just re-affirmed by Hutton that it was, " he says. "But in law there is a presumption against suicide. You have to prove beyond reasonable doubt tha tis what happened. On the evidence I have seen there is reasonable doubt, so there should be an open verdict." He stresses this does not mean there was a conspiracy to kill Dr Kelly. "There is no doubt that he may have committed suicide. The question is, can we be sure that he did?"

The irregular behaviour of the Oxfordshire coroner merely adds to the sense that all is not as it should be - particularly since requests for clarification are stone-walled. The Daily Express asked Mr Gardiner for an assurance that the proper procedure was followed in all respects over the issuing of a full death certificate. He has yet to provide one.

Mr Baker has drawn a similar blank. When he asked Ms Harman why the coroner issued a full death certificate barely a week after Lord Hutton began taking evidence, she said: "The Hutton Report obviously ranged much more widely, which is one of the reasons why a further inquest by the Oxfordshire coroner was not necessary." When Mr Baker asked what was discussed when the Home Office officials met the coroner, Ms Harman confirmed the date of the meeting but avoided any mention of the content. The Government has also refused a number of applications under the Freedom of Information Act to see documents relating to the case.

This level of evasion increases speculation about the only British individual not to have an inquest into his unexplained death - despite thefact that the pathologist who carried out the post mortem now says he would be more comfortable if the inquest were re-opened.

Mr Baker says that a man of Dr Kelly's stature deserves to have his death fully investigated but the country also has a right to know precisely what happened in an incident central to one of the most important episodes of recent British history. "We owe it to him and to ourselves, " he says. "So far, I haven't speculated on what might have happened but I will carry on asking questions until we can be sure we know the truth."