Monday, November 26, 2007

Death of a scientist
by Reg Little

Oxford Times
16 November

CORONER Nicholas Gardiner spoke in Latin to bring to a close the Oxford inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly.

"Functus officio," he said, in a barely audible whisper, best translated as "my task is done, I have no further function".

However, it would have been difficult three-and-a-half years ago to find anybody at Oxford's Old Assize Court who really believed that Mr Gardiner's words would draw a line under the death of Dr Kelly, the weapons expert found dead near his home in Southmoor.

For the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death, his involvement in the world of weapons inspections and the political impact of the tragedy meant it was always going to be fertile ground for conspiracy theories.

But few could have guessed that the author viewed as the conspiracy theorist-in-chief should be the former Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, Norman Baker MP, who gave up his front-bench job to try to establish "what really happened" on Harrowdon Hill in July 2003.

When invited by Sir Menzies Campbell to shape the Lib Dems' green policies, Mr Baker instead chose to spend two years focusing his mind on how Dr Kelly's body came to be found in a remote Oxfordshire wood.

His book, The Strange Death of David Kelly, published yesterday, argues that Dr Kelly did not kill himself, rather that he was murdered.

Not only that, it concludes that an establishment cover-up set out to make the killing appear to be suicide in the belief that this would be in the national interest.

Make no mistake, the MP for Lewes, who now speaks on constitutional affairs as Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, is fully aware of the enormity of what he has done.

"I am not naive as a politician," he told me.

"I am aware it is high risk. It was high risk to give up an important role in the party and it is high risk for anyone to challenge the official verdict of events and be labelled a conspiracy theorist.

"I am sure political opponents will seek to maximise any discomfort.

"There had always been a chance that it led nowhere. But I don't believe identifying risk is a reason for not doing the right thing."

While his party colleagues were listening to The Queen's Speech, in his Westminster Office he offered me some insight into the prolonged debate in his own head.

"There were two immediate considerations: how it would affect my constituency work and the impact it might have on Mrs Kelly and her family. I weighed that very carefully. In fact, I did three months' work before I said anything. I then published an article in the Mail on Sunday to set out my concerns.

"The response was overwhelmingly in favour of me continuing.

"I received hundreds and hundred of letters and emails and phone calls. All of them, except three, were supportive of my decision to publish and willing me on. It was the largest response I had to anything I had done as an MP."

He wrestled with the dilemma over days before consulting parliamentary colleages.

"In the end I concluded that there was an overwhelming public interest to deal with what is unfinished business.

"Here was a good man, who did more to dispel the threat of weapons of mass destruction than anyone else on the planet.

"And here he was with a very ignominious end. At the very least it needed to be investigated properly. If my book causes distress to Mrs Kelly, I apologise for that."

With Mrs Kelly on record as saying very clearly that she believed her husband's death was suicide, he insists: "The last thing I wanted to do was cause the family further grief, which I recognised might come from further media coverage."

The 50-year-old MP made no attempt to contact Mrs Kelly, who still lives in Southmoor, or her daughters after learning from the family solicitor that they did not wish to co-operate.
But he now reveals that two unnamed members of the family agreed to speak to him.

The book seems to have been motivated by the MP's belief that the Hutton Inquiry was a travesty and by a letter sent to the Guardian from medical specialists, who questioned whether Dr Kelly's death could have been suicide.

"I began to take an interest in it myself," said Mr Baker, well known as a campaigner in the field of animal welfare.

"I simply could not believe that suicide is supported by the facts. For me the key question is 'why did he die the way he did?'."

Mr Baker believes that a scientist with Dr Kelly's understanding of the human anatomy would not have attempted suicide by cutting his wrist.

"The artery in question is hidden deep in the wrist and can only be accessed by cutting through nerves and tendons - an extremely painful process."

Choosing a blunt concave pruning knife would have only increased the pain.

The MP writes: "It might be argued that Dr Kelly did not leave his house in Southmoor with the intention of committing suicide - but that a black mood came upon him in the woods and that the decision was spontaneous.

"He then found that the only weapon to hand was this knife and used it as best he could.
"This theory, however simply does not hold water, if we are also to believe that Dr Kelly brought with him from his cottage 30 coproxamol tablets, which according to the official version of events, were used either to dull the pain of the incision or to provide a second parallel method of achieving suicide."

Two paramedics called to the scene spoke of the "remarkably little blood around the body" and the MP also questions why Lord Hutton made no reference to the lack of any fingerprints on the knife.

Then there is the issue of Dr Kelly's state of mind.

"On that last morning he was sending emails saying he was going to Iraq and the worst was over. He actually booked a flight back to Iraq."

But it is the MP's alternative version of events that will cause widespread anger, both from people disinclined to accept the official verdict and those who will view the book with contempt.

Having satisfied himself over two years that it was "nigh-on clinically impossible" for Dr Kelly to have died by his own hand in the manner described, Mr Baker says only one alternative remains - that the weapons inspector was murdered, possibly through an injection "by person, or persons, unknown".

"I think it was an Iraqi group," he told me. "Different sources have told me the Iraqis were involved. There is a high degree of correlation. Sources on the record and anonymous point in the same direction."

Revenge by Saddam Hussein loyalists is put forward as a possible motive.

But he argues the involvement of an Iraqi group with London links, fearful that revelations from Dr Kelly could affect their credibility with the US and the UK Governments, is much more likely.

He discounts one idea that Dr Kelly's talks with a Summertown company about publishing a book could be significant.

The theory becomes more convoluted because Mr Baker goes on to suggest that it was not the killers, but dark forces in the British establishment who made the murder look like suicide.
Mr Baker's scenario can only be summed up with difficulty.

The British Government suspects an Iraqi operation.

t was recognised that the murder of Britain's leading weapons inspector by terrorists at a time when the controversy over the legality of war raged, with public opinion dangerously unpredictable, could leave the Government irretrievably damaged.

Mr Baker said: "If this scenario is correct, it is necessary to conclude that a small number of senior people knew."

Perhaps recognising an ever-growing look of disbelief, he added almost apologetically: "It may seem an odd conclusion, but it is the only one I can find to fit the facts. It may not be 100 per cent right, but it is certainly more credible than Lord Hutton's conclusion."

Some of those who came forward to help the MP, including former members of the intelligence service, faced ominous warnings and threats, he discloses.

"It is unsatisfactory, not being able to give more details. But I have details of names and occupations. I was faced with the position of either not including information that is relevant or putting information in without being able to identify people by name."

His case is perhaps at its strongest when he deals with the unusual process under which Dr Kelly's death was examined, with the Hutton Inquiry effectively carrying out the function of the coroner's court.
"One QC I spoke to believes the entire process to be flawed because it was not a statutory inquest.

"Nobody was obliged to give evidence under oath. There was no proper examination of the police officers. It was less vigorous than if you found someone down there on the pavement."
From the television in his office, we could see that The Queen's Speech was over.

As I walked across Parliament Square, with large crowds still awaiting the departure of the monarch, the thought occurred how much unnecessary pain the MP for Lewes will cause if he is wrong.

Yet if he were even a tenth right, it would be a far more terrible book.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Who killed David Kelly?

Nigel Jones reviews 'The Strange Death of David Kelly' by Norman Baker

Reading this sombrely factual book in tandem with Robert Harris's equally plausible political thriller, The Ghost, is an eerily surreal experience: similar worlds, peopled by similar characters, blur and blend, until it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.

The anti-heroes of both books - although Harris lightly disguises his prime minister as 'Adam Lang' - is Tony Blair, and the cronies, lickspittles and murderous spooks who throng his corrupt court. The landscape of both works forming the backdrop to tragedy is the same: rural, wooded and bleak.

In Harris's novel, it is the stunted dwarf oak forests and beaches of Martha's Vineyard in midwinter where Lang's loyal aide, Mike McAra, is mysteriously washed up dead. In Norman Baker's equally vividly rendered reality it is the superficially homely Oxfordshire village of Southmoor in midsummer, in particular Harrowdown Hill, a lonely spot where, in July 2003, one of Britain's leading government scientists, Dr David Kelly, was found in similarly mysterious circumstances, equally dead.

And the tragedy itself that informs both books is, of course, Iraq.

The author of this stunning work of non-fiction, is not, like Harris, a glamorous TV journalist turned millionaire churner of superior thrillers but a spectacularly unglamorous Liberal Democrat MP. Troubled by the strange events surrounding Kelly's demise, Baker resigned his frontbench responsibilities to pursue a private investigation of the case.
He began, he tells us, believing that while 'brutality, immorality and deception were to be found in totalitarian regimes across the world' he had not appreciated how 'these qualities can easily be found in Western democracies too. We fool ourselves if we think "It can't happen here". It can, and it does.'

If Baker's meticulous account is to be believed, what happened on that gentle English hillside was murder most foul, carelessly dressed up to look like suicide. He begins with a minute description of Dr Kelly's last hours - insofar as they emerged from the incomplete investigation of Lord Hutton's travesty of an inquiry - the only inquest that poor Kelly is likely to get.

Although under extreme pressure as a result of the Blair government's outing of him as the source of Andrew Gilligan's radio report that the 'dodgy dossier' that took Britain to war in Iraq had been 'sexed up' to panic Parliament into authorising war, Kelly nevertheless kept his customarily level head.

He spent the morning of 17 July replying to supportive emails from friends. There were 'dark actors' at work, he wrote, but he would survive - and he went ahead with planning his next trip to Iraq, where he had become a familiar figure since 1991 - nosing out Saddam's efforts to conceal his biological weapons with a particularly effective, understated British persistence.

The tone and content of these messages, says Baker, were hardly consistent with a man bent on taking his own life.

His wife, Janice, took to her bed with a headache, and without bidding her farewell, Kelly left on one of his customary brisk, 20-minute strolls in the surrounding countryside. He was never seen alive again. The next morning, Kelly's corpse was found on Harrowdown Hill, a mile or so away from his home.

His ulnar artery - a matchstick-sized blood vessel in the wrist - was found cut, apparently by a knife he had owned since childhood (on which there were mysteriously no fingerprints). Twenty-nine Copraxamol painkiller tablets (used by his wife to combat pain from her arthritis) were missing from a blister pack by his body (although none were found in his stomach and he had a well-attested aversion to swallowing tablets).

There were many peculiarities about the death that went - and still go - unexplained: no suicide note; no arterial blood; the method of death so rare as to be almost unheard of.
Kelly was said by all his friends to be not the suicidal type; and he had told two of them that if his views on Iraq became inconvenient to the authorities 'he would be found dead in the woods'.

In addition, his dental records disappeared from his dentist's filing cabinet - and were then mysteriously returned; and the police search for him, code-named 'Operation Mason', was officially started before his family had reported him missing. Curiouser and curiouser.

Baker fills in the political background to Kelly's death - the duplicities and deceptions advanced to justify the Iraq war; then ticks off the likely suspects for Kelly's death, starting with the nuttiest - no, it wasn't a ritualised pagan killing on a ley line; nor were the Russians guilty.

Reluctantly, he even acquits MI6 and the CIA of direct responsibility, while making it clear that both had the capability to carry out the killing and concluding that both probably were aware that it would happen and covered up the fact that it had.

Instead he fingers a rogue Iraqi hit team - either vengeful Saddam loyalists, still furious at Kelly's worming out their concealed WMD - or, more likely, followers of the exiled CIA- and MI6-backed 'dissidents' Ahmed Chalabi and Iyad Allawi, cousins both hoping to be installed in power in the wake of a successful Anglo-American invasion.

Kelly's honest questioning of the flimsy justifications for the war threatened to scupper their plans. Therefore, he had to be silenced.

And it is Baker's contention, informed by sources within the intelligence community, that British official operatives acted to transform a killing by Iraqi 'hired hands' into what looked superficially like a suicide. As the old KGB adage puts it: 'Anyone can commit a murder, but it takes an artist to commit a suicide.'

As Baker rightly comments, proponents of 'conspiracy theories' tend to be dismissed as nutters. His own courageous and well-publicised probing into Kelly's death has been dismissed with the usual 'we don't do that kind of thing, old boy'. But, as this disquieting book makes very clear - unfortunately, we do.

His concluding pages, in which he lists, with a cold anger, how those who launched and justified the Iraq war: the Blairs, the Campbells, the Hoons, the Huttons and the Generals and diplomats - have smoothly progressed, with their honours, their pensions and their directorships of dodgy arms companies intact, while Kelly's reward for his honesty was a grave in Longmoor Churchyard, make one shiver at the moral nadir of the Blair years.
Baker's anecdote about a copy of the Hutton report being auctioned by Cherie Blair to raise money for the Labour Party tells you all you need to know about our squalid rulers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Norman Baker: My search for the truth – and why I think David Kelly was murdered

MORE than three years after Lord Hutton published his inquiry report, the death of Dr David Kelly simply won't go away.

It won't because Lord Hutton, charged with examining the circumstances of his death, did nothing of the sort, instead devoting nearly all his energies to refereeing the spat between the Government and the BBC.

It won't because his report was widely derided upon publication as a whitewash which might as well have been written by Alastair Campbell.

But, most of all, it won't because the conclusion that the Government weapons inspector took his own life cannot be supported by the facts.

Back in July 2003, the House of Commons had just broken up for its long summer recess. Within hours of Parliament rising, Dr Kelly would be found dead in a wood in Oxfordshire.

I remember feeling shocked, but also angry. For while the man who had probably done more than any other over many years to suppress the Iraqi threat from chemical and biological weapons lay unceremoniously and violently dead, the then Prime Minister was being lauded across the Atlantic by the US political establishment and offered a rare Congressional Medal, doubtless for committing UK troops to an illegal war in Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction which, as time showed, were nowhere to be found.

I resolved to look into matters. It was a journey that was to take more than a year of my life, culminating this week in the publication of my book.

The first task I set myself was to test Lord Hutton's verdict of suicide. Could this stand up? The unequivocal answer to this question was no.

For a start, it is clear that the whole process, and in particular the interface between the Coroner's inquest and Lord Hutton's inquiry, was deeply flawed. Indeed, Lord Hutton told me in a letter that he wasn't even aware an inquest was proceeding parallel with his inquiry. That is absolutely astonishing.

Even more astonishing is the fact that the Coroner, who had been bundled off the case by Lord Falconer, generated a full death certificate less than a week after the Hutton Inquiry had properly started.

How on earth could the Coroner have already determined the cause of death, when this was what the Hutton Inquiry had been set up to establish?

The inquiry itself had no statutory basis, meaning nobody could be required to attend, nobody was required to give evidence under oath, and none of the normal safeguards and proper procedures of a court hearing applied. The result was a mish-mash of contradictory evidence, gaping holes and any absence of any proper cross-examination.

Why, for example, did the police operation set up to deal with Dr Kelly's death have a start time of 2.30pm on the afternoon of his disappearance, 30 minutes before he actually set out from his house? Lord Hutton does not bother to ask.

Medical experts have made it clear that it was well nigh clinically impossible for Dr Kelly to have died in the manner described, from a cut to an obscure artery of matchstick thickness. Very little blood appears to have been lost, and I have now learnt that there were not even any fingerprints on the knife or the water bottle he is alleged to have used.

Some argue that Dr Kelly was suicidal. Yet, on the morning of his disappearance, he emailed friends to say he was looking forward to returning to Iraq and even had the Ministry of Defence book him a flight for the following week. Hardly the actions of a man about to kill himself. He also left no suicide note.

But if it wasn't suicide, then it must have been murder. Yet no obvious motive stood out, though it was a reasonable working hypothesis to assume that his death was connected in some way to the momentous events of the previous month. Dr Kelly had, of course, been outed as the official who had made known to BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan his concerns about the Government's over-hyped claim that Iraq could fire weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

Did Dr Kelly have more information in his head which somebody wanted to ensure didn't come out? Or could his death be retribution for something he had done?

Following a piece I had written for a Sunday newspaper, I received from the public many suggestions for avenues of enquiry. A small number offered concrete information about
the case.

Armed with that information, I produced a list of possible explanations for his death, and set about testing each, and ruling them out one by one.

The journey was a fascinating one. Along the way, I have talked to experts in chemical and biological weapons, those with links to the intelligence services, and many ordinary members of the public, both those who knew David Kelly and those who didn't. I have had meetings in locations as disparate as a café in Brussels, a seedy bar in Exeter and a

The key question was this: why was Dr Kelly's such a strange death? Nobody would commit suicide that way, but nor can murder be explained by what was found. The only answer that makes sense is that he was murdered by other means, and then steps taken to make the death look like suicide.

For reasons I give in the book, I believe he was murdered by Iraqi elements, the police were too late to stop this and a decision was taken for political reasons to alter the truth.

What is certain is that the conclusions of the Hutton Inquiry are an insult to the intelligence of the British people, and because of this, this is unfinished business. It will remain so until we have a proper inquest into the death of Dr Kelly, and a proper full-scale public inquiry into the disastrous and dishonest decision by the Blair Government to take us into an illegal war in Iraq.

Monday, November 12, 2007

from Xymphora's blogspot.....

'Kelly disinformation'

Be careful of a clever disinformation campaign being created around the murder of David Kelly. From The Independent, on Norman Baker’s recent revelations:

“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.”

From the Scotsman:

“WEAPONS scientist Dr David Kelly was assassinated to stop him making further comments about Saddam's nuclear arsenal, according to new claims.

In a book about Kelly's death, Liberal Democrat Norman Baker says the assassins may have been anti-Saddam Iraqis and suggests their crime was covered up by the British establishment.

He says the British security services found out about the plot but were too late to stop it.”

This makes no sense, as Kelly was murdered after the American attack on Iraq. Iraqi opponents of Saddam had no reason to fear discrediting, as they were not the ones identified with the lying campaign of the British and American governments (and why would they care about discrediting anyway, especially after they got their war?). The only people who would be directly affected by anything that Kelly might have said would be the parties who crafted the lies used to justify the attack, those two governments. That’s where the motive for murder lies, and that’s where we should be looking for suspects. The idea that British security services couldn’t stop the murder in time seems to be a hint of who is behind the latest disinformation cover-up, the kind of over-egging that spreaders of disinformation often seem to be incapable of avoiding. Baker’s secret informant may be an attempt to undermine his investigation.

Kelly seemed to share his deepest thoughts with Judy Miller. You have to wonder whether those thoughts were transmitted by Miller to somebody in the Bush Administration who decided it would be wise to neutralize a potential embarrassment.

Comments (23)

Kelly inquest 'should be resumed'

The inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly should be reconvened, says the Lib Dem MP who believes the weapons expert did not commit suicide.

Norman Baker, who claims Dr Kelly may have been killed by anti-Saddam Iraqis, says his death should have been subject to a full coroner's inquest.

Lord Hutton's inquiry into Dr Kelly's death found he had committed suicide.
The probe was deemed to remove the need for a full inquest, unless there were "exceptional circumstances".

Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner said in 2004 that the Kelly family accepted Lord Hutton's verdict. And he concluded there were "no exceptional reasons" for the inquest to be resumed.

But Mr Baker, whose book The Strange Death of David Kelly has just been published, said there should have been a higher standard of investigation into the scientist's death.
Dr Kelly's body was found on Harrowdown Hill, near his home in Southmoor, Oxfordshire, in July 2003.

It was just days after he was named as the suspected source of a BBC report claiming the government "sexed up" a dossier on the threat posed by Iraq.

Mr Baker, MP for Lewes, says he wants Dr Kelly to be given a posthumous honour for his role in pursuing peace and weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Strange Death of David Kelly

by Norman Baker

Reviewed by Nick Rufford

The Sunday Times
November 11, 2007

Consider this: several senior doctors write to a newspaper to take issue with the official explanation of how David Kelly died. John Scurr, an expert in vascular surgery, concludes: “Frankly I don’t believe that simply cutting an ulnar artery will cause death.” The first paramedics to attend Kelly’s body on a wooded hillside near his Oxfordshire home note that the small amount of blood does not seem consistent with fatal bleeding.

There’s more. The pathologist who pronounced the cause of death later has a change of heart. Then it emerges that police found no fingerprints on the knife that Kelly supposedly used to kill himself or on the water bottle lying next to the body. And why did Operation Mason, the police investigation into his death, start nine hours before Kelly was even reported missing?

If this were the start of a detective novel the reader would quickly suspect foul play. As a weapons scientist, Kelly had access to sensitive information. Among his more intriguing discoveries was Saddam Hussein’s dirty bomb. While working in Iraq in 1995, Kelly found the site where the bomb had been tested eight years previously. The radiological weapon had spread contaminated dust across the desert. Yet this seemingly crucial information was never included in the government’s weapons dossier. Why not? After all, at the time Downing Street was trying to ramp up the case for going to war and the fact that the tyrant had a radiation weapon was surely its strongest card? Unless...Britain helped Saddam develop the bomb back in the 1980s when ministers were selling weapons to Iraq in breach of sanctions. It’s certainly an interesting theory.

Enter Norman Baker, a Lib Dem MP who has already proved his sleuthing abilities. His probing led to Peter Mandelson’s resignation over the Hinduja affair. He brought to light MPs’ profligate expenses. Campaigning on everything from animal vivisection to persecution in Tibet, he has probably done more than any other MP in recent years to expose abuses of power. Along the way he has made enemies who would like to see him dismissed as a madman or a fantasist. He is neither.

Buy The Strange Death of David Kelly by Norman Baker

In The Strange Death of David Kelly, Baker is a latterday Sherlock Holmes, examining all the evidence and uncovering omissions and inconsistencies that cast doubt on the conclusions of the £1.7m Hutton inquiry. Nearly a quarter of 1,000 British adults questioned for a recent BBC poll said they thought Kelly had not killed himself. More were unsure. So Baker has hit on a case ripe for investigation.

Frustratingly, though, he has not solved it. Instead, sifting through testimony from parliamentary inquiries, which he combines with his own research, Baker exposes – more thoroughly than ever before – a government so determined to build a case for going to war that it either lied or was unable to distinguish truth from fiction. It had to cross a legal threshold of proof before our own armed forces would agree to fight. Hence Downing Street summoned up “intelligence” that was little more than hearsay or downright bogus. The now-infamous 45-minute warning of a chemical attack came from a dubious single source. The claim that Saddam was shopping for yellowcake uranium in Niger was based on forged documents. Saddam’s mobile smallpox laboratories turned out to be trailers for filling hydrogen balloons, part of an artillery system sold by Britain to Iraq in 1987.

Remarkably, as Baker reminds us, the protagonists are still in office. John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, has been promoted to chief of MI6; Geoff Hoon is now chief whip; Jack Straw, the justice secretary and lord chancellor; and, perhaps most gallingly, Tony Blair is now a peace envoy. Meanwhile, the Hutton inquiry skewered men who were largely innocent. Greg Dyke, Gavyn Davies and Andrew Gilligan left the BBC.

All this is flawlessly argued by Baker. A shame then, that his conclusion about Kelly’s fate strains credibility. To kill without a trace is difficult, as Baker acknowledges. Therefore, he hints at an Establishment cover-up involving Thames Valley Police which carried out the official investigation into Kelly’s death. It is hard to conceive of crime-scene officers and detectives committing a crime themselves by colluding with senior police and members of the intelligence services, not to mention the coroner and his staff. Even if it were true, would not one honest soul have blown the whistle, or sold their story?
Baker rightly identifies holes in the suicide verdict. He finds no shortage of people who knew Kelly to say he was not the suicidal type. As one of them, I agree; he was almost always jovial and composed. But in suggesting that Kelly died at the hands of a shadowy Iraqi group whose crime was “subsequently covered up by the government”, or that “a tiny cabal within the British Establishment commissioned assassins to undertake [Kelly’s murder]”, Baker is offering an even shakier explanation than suicide. The most likely sequence of events is one Baker himself admits is “plausible”.

On the morning of July 17, Kelly received a number of calls from the Ministry of Defence that unsettled him. At his initial interview with his MoD bosses 10 days previously, he had been told no action would be taken against him over his contact with journalists, but that might change if further information came to light. Since then, Kelly had given evidence in public to the Foreign Affairs Committee, trying to balance honesty with an attempt not to incriminate himself. “It was a juggling act that proved too difficult,” observes Baker. During the hearing, a committee member read part of a transcript of an interview Kelly had given to Susan Watts, a BBC Newsnight journalist. Kelly did not know at that stage that the conversation had been taped. He denied saying the words and, in doing so, misled a parliamentary committee.

Kelly was asked again about his contact with Watts in the July 17 calls from the MoD. Baker describes the following scenario: “Kelly, having thought the worst was over, suddenly realised that his careful attempt to pick his way through the minefield had blown up in his face. He realised that the game was up. Moreover, he would be exposed as having been less than truthful, something that went strongly against his personal ethic.” Baker concludes: “This is certainly a plausible explanation for suicide, if that is what it was. Indeed it is the most plausible.” As a reader you’re forced to agree and then wonder, why look for a more complicated explanation?

There are still unanswered questions, of course. Thames Valley Police has yet to explain the absence of fingerprints, though it has commented on why Operation Mason started nine hours before Kelly was reported missing. It says the start time of the operation was fixed retrospectively to reflect the period of interest. The pathologist did change his view as to the precise cause of Kelly’s death, but his revised conclusion didn’t persuade him or the coroner that foul play was involved. The medical experts who wrote to a newspaper questioning the official cause of death have been countered by others who say that blood loss, exacerbated by an undiagnosed heart condition and combined with an overdose of painkillers, would have been sufficient to kill Kelly.

As to why the government didn’t declare Saddam’s dirty bomb in its Iraq dossier, well, that’s a question the government has yet to answer. When Baker tabled a Commons question he was stonewalled with a written reply from John Reid, then defence secretary. Reid confirmed that the government was indeed aware that Iraq “carried out tests on a radiological device (dirty bomb)”, but gave no further comment.
At least half the readers of this book will suspect Kelly was murdered; for them, Baker provides plenty of support. For those who share my scepticism, however, it’s still an important work. You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to conclude that something murky was going on behind closed doors in Whitehall. Hutton’s remit was too narrow ever to get to the bottom of it. As an exploration of what happens when politicians bend the evidence to fit their aims, hoping that the end will justify the means, Baker’s book is hard to beat.

THE STRANGE DEATH OF DAVID KELLY by Norman Baker Politico’s £9.99 pp400
'I feared I'd end up dead in the woods like Dr Kelly,' says biological warfare expert who criticised Britain and U.S.


Fighting back: Jill Dekker was given special protection by the Belgian government after a series of 'sinister' incidents.

An EU expert on biological warfare has told how she fears ending up 'dead in the woods' like scientist Dr David Kelly after an alleged campaign of intimidation by members of MI6 and the CIA.Jill Dekker, a bio-defence expert based in Brussels, has reported a string of sinister incidents – including the parking of a hearse outside her house – after making a speech critical of British and American policy in the Middle East.

Her claims are included in a new book by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker which argues that Dr Kelly was murdered to silence his criticism of the grounds for going to war in Iraq.

American-born Dr Dekker has been billed at security conferences as the director of the 'public health preparedness programme' at the European Homeland Security Association (EHSA), a security think tank.

She was placed under the protection of the Belgian government after reporting a series of sinister incidents earlier this year.

The Belgians confirm that they mounted a three-month protection operation earlier this year for Dr Dekker, who has advised the European Commission on bio-terrorism issues, but refuse to be drawn on the extent to which her fears were wellfounded or why the protection was eventually lifted.

The EHSA bears many of the hallmarks of a 'front' organisation for espionage activities, although Dr Dekker refuses to say anything about it except that it answers to the French government.

Established in 2004, it holds workshops and conferences, and claims partnerships with a number of security-based thinktanks around the world.

It appears to exist only in cyberspace, with its staff, including its president, French career diplomat Richard Narich, only contactable by email. Dr Dekker is not listed on the EHSA website and the organisation was yesterday not responding to any calls.

Dr Dekker says the 'intimidation' against her started in March, as she was flying to Florida to give a speech on Syria's weapons programme to an intelligence summit. She says she was subjected to a 'heavy-handed' interrogation by a man she suspects of being a British intelligence operative.

She believes the speech made her powerful enemies because she argued that billions of dollars spent by the US government to develop a smallpox vaccine has been wasted because scientists – including British experts – have used a different viral strain to the one she believes is being developed in Damascus.

If this is true, it means governments would have no way of protecting the public against the use of the virus by terrorists or rogue states.

She also believes that Iraq did have a biological weapons capacity which was all shipped to Syria before the outbreak of war.

She argues this was known, but was concealed from the public because the real purpose of the war was not to target weapons of mass destruction but to topple Saddam Hussein and gain a strategic foothold in the region.

When she returned to her home in Belgium after the speech she said she was subjected to an overt campaign of surveillance and harassment, including being continuously followed on foot and having cars parked outside her house with the headlights on.
On one occasion, she says she found a hearse parked outside her house with the drivers 'staring straight ahead.' When she approached, it sped off and she pursued it, taking photographs as evidence.

After being told that Mr Baker was writing a book about the circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly's death, she sent him an email on March 23 designed, she says, to highlight the risk she felt she was under.

Dr David Kelly, the UK's leading weapons inspector in Iraq, was found dead in 2003

'I've informed all my diplomatic friends that not only am I not suicidal, I am looking forward to my children growing up and . . . also my great career,' she wrote. 'Much like other people who suddenly were found dead in woods.'

A week later, she wrote: 'The US State Department and their surrogates... continue to intimidate me and my family – every day they are outside my home, they tail me 24/7 – I believe they could try to kill me so I don't reveal any more of my research on Syrian biological weapons.'

In a third email in April, she wrote: 'I refuse to be intimidated by anyone who uses the tactics they used – so unprofessional even people inside can't believe how they have acted here – it's like Johnny English [the 2003 spoof spy film starring Rowan Atkinson as an incompetent British agent], really so amateurish. Our services just aren't what they used to be.'

It is difficult to establish whether there is any truth to Dr Dekker's claims of harassment, as she refuses to disclose the precise location of her home 90 minutes drive from Brussels for 'security reasons'.

She says the Belgian government extended its protection to her three months ago by making her a Belgian citizen, and is investigating her claims through its public prosecutor's office. The Government confirms that she is now a Belgian national.
Dr Dekker has given a detailed account to The Mail on Sunday of the alleged campaign of intimidation, which she believes was led by American and British intelligence.
She tells how she was subjected to an 'amateurish' interrogation by the British man on the plane to Florida.

'The plane was absolutely packed, and there was just one seat next to me that was empty. The plane was held up to let the final passenger on board,' she said.
'He then started asking me questions regarding my occupation, quite sensitive things about Nato and the like, to the point that I turned and said to him, 'OK, go down the list'.

'He then backed off but continued throughout the flight to be intrusive. He had this whole cover story about why he lived in Holland, right down to financial documents he showed me.

He asked me right out of the blue about Isotopes – now there's a word you don't hear everyday on a transatlantic flight.'

When she returned to Belgium after the conference she says was followed relentlessly on foot and by car, and had vehicles parked outside her house – often with darkened windows and their headlights fullon in broad daylight.

Of her encounter with the mystery 'hearse', she said: 'No one in our neighbourhood had died and the agents sitting in the front wouldn't make any eye contact, just stared straight ahead.

'I was pretty ticked off so I decided to pull my car out and follow them. They took off so fast – they must have been driving at around 100 kph through the countryside. Then they followed me the next day with this hearse with Belgian plates all the way home.'

She says that after 'making a few calls', she was placed under the protection of the local police. The 'campaign' then stopped, having lasted just over a month.

'It was unbelievable to me that I had to ask another government for protection against my own,' she said. She kept a daily 'harassment' diary, which she has handed to the Belgian authorities.

Dr Dekker, who says she met David Kelly before the Iraq war at Wilton Park, a countryside conference centre used by the Foreign Office, agrees with Mr Baker's conclusion that he was murdered.

Dr Kelly, the UK's leading weapons inspector in Iraq, was found dead in woods close to his Oxfordshire home in 2003, after apparently committing suicide.

He had been highly critical of the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and in particular the infamous assertion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which he could deploy at 45 minutes notice.

Speculation about potential culprits who might have had a motive to silence him has ranged from 'special ops' units of the intelligence services to expatriate Iraqi opponents of Saddam.

Mr Baker writes in his book The Strange Death of David Kelly, which is published tomorrow: 'I have met Dr Dekker on two occasions and had a number of long exchanges with her. She does not strike me as the sort either who would frighten easily, or who would ginger up her story for effect.

'Rather, she is a somewhat hardnosed, intelligent and knowledgeable woman who has succeeded well in a profession where men predominate. I therefore took it seriously when she emailed me.'

Dr Dekker emerged from the shadows of what she says has been a 20-year career as a scientist in 2005, when internet records show that she was a 'bio-defence consultant' for the Brussels-based thinktank New Defence Agenda.

The organisation, which bills itself as 'platform for discussing Nato and EU defence and security issues', names former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten and former Nato secretary general Lord Robertson among its patrons.

But critics have called it the arms industry's 'weapon of mass disinformation' because of the partnerships it has established with companies such as BAe Systems, Lockheed Martin and Thales.

The International Intelligence Summit, which she addressed in Florida, described itself as 'a nonpartisan, non-profit, neutral forum that uses private charitable funds to bring together intelligence agencies of the free world and the emerging democracies ... the purpose of The Summit is to provide an opportunity for the international intelligence community to listen to and learn from each other, and to share ideas in the common war against terrorism.'

The publicity for the conference said: 'The list of presenters will include many of the top leaders of the intelligence, espionage, counterterrorism and counter-intelligence agencies from around the free world. The Summit is intended to be the most prestigious world conference on international studies, intelligence policy, terrorism, and homeland security.'

The Summit flagged up Dr Dekker by saying she 'regularly consults with Ministries of Public Health, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Ministries of Defence on issues related to Mid-East state bio-warfare programmes'.

It added that she 'has advised the European Commission on bio-terterrorism and stockpiling for Category A bio-warfare agent countermeasures; resulting in (COM (2004) 701 Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament Preparedness and consequence management in the fight against terrorism'.

Asked if she knew anyone who could back up her claims of intimidation, she referred us to one of her friends, who spent 20 years as a CIA officer and now works as a consultant.

He said: "She told me what happened, and I believe it. What she described is known as heavy harassing surveillance, with the purpose of intimidating."

Dave Thomas, the local police inspector who was entrusted with Dr Dekker's protection, said he had done so on the orders of the Belgian ministry of the interior.

Speaking in accented English almost as good as his distinctly un- Belgian name would suggest, he said: "It is true that we were told to look after her. They said she was an important person who felt under threat."

But he did not go into details into what action his force had taken.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the order had come from the country's Crisis Centre, Belgium's emergency planning department.

He said: "Jill Dekker specialises in bioterrorism. She reported to us that she felt she was being threatened by foreign intelligence services, and we received an instruction from the Crisis Centre on March 21 that she should be protected. The protection was withdrawn on July 7."

Last night, Mr Baker said he believed Dr Dekker could have made enemies by exposing a fallacy at the heart of military action against Iraq.

"If the war was really about WMD, then to be consistent we should also invade Syria," he said.

"Otherwise, it suggests that it was more about giving Saddam a bloody nose."

Comments (3)

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below?

Definately the same opinion, I always believed David Kelly knew too much and had to be silenced, brave it has been opened up again with the same knowledge by Mrs. Dekker.-

Mr. Powell, Leeds UK

"Touchez" Dr. Dekker I believe every word you are saying,its in the end all about......power!

- Michael, Amsterdam NL

I hope we all watch out for this lady, seems to me Brown and Co. are carrying on the dictatorship and communisium that Bliar and Co. started.God help Britain, because no-one else seems to be.- Karen, West Midlands