Sunday, August 31, 2008

David Kelly's closest female confidante on why he COULDN'T have killed himself

By Sharon Churcher

31st August 2008

A female confidante of Dr David Kelly raised disturbing new questions last night over how the Ministry of Defence weapons inspector was able to kill himself.

After his body was discovered in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003, a Government inquiry led by Lord Hutton ruled that he committed suicide by slashing his left wrist with a knife and taking an overdose of co-proxamol, a painkiller commonly used for arthritis.

He was said to be anguished about being named as the source of a BBC report, which alleged that Tony Blair ‘sexed up’ a dossier justifying the invasion of Iraq.

Mystery death: Professor David Kelly appearing at the House of Commons during the Iraq inquiry

But five years after his death at 59, his close friend, American military linguist Mai Pederson, has come forward to dispute this account.

The Hutton inquiry heard that he died after making several cuts to his left wrist, which severed the ulnar artery, buried deep in the tissue on the side of the hand nearest the little finger.

An earlier coroner’s inquest was halted when the Government used an obscure law to turn the investigation over to Lord Hutton. His inquiry concluded that ‘there was no involvement by a third party’ in the scientist’s death, which was said to be caused primarily by the cut artery and hastened by the painkillers.

Ms Pederson, a former US Air Force officer, met Dr Kelly when she was assigned to work in 1998 as a translator for the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq.

And she revealed in an interview with The Mail on Sunday that, in the months leading to his death, the right-handed scientist was unable to use his right hand for tasks requiring strength because of a painful injury to his right elbow.

According to Ms Pederson, when she dined with Dr Kelly at a Washington restaurant in the spring of 2003, the hand’s grip was so weak that he struggled to get a knife through a steak he had ordered.

The linguist, who counselled Dr Kelly during his conversion to the Baha’i religious faith that she follows, says he had begun to favour his left hand for even relatively minor tasks, a tendency she observed on numerous other occasions.

'He couldn't cut a steak': Mai pederson is unconvinced David Kelly took his own life

‘David would have had to have been a contortionist to kill himself the way they claim,’ she said.

‘I don’t know whether he was born right-handed but by the time I first met him he favoured his left hand for any task that required strength, like opening a door or carrying his briefcase.
‘When he embraced friends at the beginning and end of Baha’i meetings, it was his left arm that you felt hugging you and you could tell his right arm hurt him because he rubbed the elbow a lot.

‘I didn’t want to pry but he finally told me the reason in the spring of 2003. It was the last time I saw him before he died. He was visiting America on business and we went out to dinner.

‘He ordered steak and he was holding his knife very oddly in the palm of his right hand, with his wrist crooked, trying to cut the meat.

‘He told me that some time ago he had broken his right elbow and it was never fixed properly, so he had real problems with it. It was painful and it never regained its strength.
'I just don’t see how he could have used his right hand to cut through the nerves and tendons of his left wrist - especially as the knife he supposedly used had a dull blade.’

Ms Pederson said she believed she was familiar with the knife Dr Kelly is said to have used.
‘He always wore a Barbour jacket and he kept a knife in his pocket,’ she said. ‘It had a folding blade and I remember him telling me he couldn’t sharpen it because his right hand didn’t have the strength to hold a sharpener.

‘It would have taken him a long time to reach the artery that was severed and it would have been very painful.

‘As a scientist, David had no need to kill himself that way. I don’t understand why the British Government isn’t thoroughly investigating this. Logically, he cannot have committed suicide.’

David kelly gave evidence during an inquiry into whether the Government had 'sexed up' the reasons for going to war with Iraq

Ms Pederson, 48, whose military duties have included intelligence assignments, has avoided the spotlight since Dr Kelly’s death. But she says she is perturbed by mounting evidence that he may have been murdered.

The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that after his disappearance, a heat-seeking search helicopter flew over the exact spot where his corpse was later discovered. Yet the thermal-imaging equipment picked up no sign of a body – which some experts say suggests he was killed elsewhere.

Moreover, a group of doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists has called for a new inquiry into his death, contending that a cut to the ulnar artery would not cause catastrophic bleeding. Little blood was found at the scene.

They also maintain that the 29 or so painkillers Dr Kelly supposedly swallowed were only one-third of the dosage normally considered as lethal.

Even more mysteriously, there were no fingerprints on the knife he allegedly wielded nor on the bottle from which he supposedly drank water to wash down the tablets.
But perhaps most key is the information that Ms Pederson provided to Thames Valley Police, who were assisting the Hutton inquiry.

When officers flew to meet her in America in August 2003, she says she told them during two days of interviews that she was baffled about how Dr Kelly could have killed himself.

‘The facts just don’t add up,’ said Ms Pederson. ‘The more I have heard about this, the more I have thought about the significance of his weak right hand. I told the police about it when they interviewed me. I said, “How could David have cut his left wrist using a dull knife with his weak right hand?”

‘They said, “It wasn’t a straight cut. It was jagged.”

‘When I heard nothing more about it, I assumed they had come to an informed decision - that it was suicide. But now, knowing all that we do, I feel it is time for a disinterested public inquiry.'

Copies of the Hutton report into the events surrounding Dr Kelly's death
Ms Pederson has been one of the more elusive figures in the mystery of Dr Kelly’s death.

There have been rumours that she might have been romantically involved with the married scientist.

However, the vivacious brunette strongly denied this in a previous interview with The Mail on Sunday, pointing out that both her religion and military rules prohibit adultery.

Ms Pederson, who is fluent in Arabic, German and French, met Dr Kelly when she was seconded to the UN team in Iraq as a translator. In the tense atmosphere, she developed a close bond with him. They had long conversations about her devout beliefs in the ecumenical teachings of the Baha’i faith, to which he converted a year later.

She recalled: ‘He was like my big brother. I was the only linguist on the team and I would work until 11 or 11.30 at night and then go for a walk to get rid of the stress and the pressure. Other team members would walk with me but eventually it was mostly David because of his British passion for his daily constitutional.

‘The only time it was safe to talk about anything important was when we were walking. At our hotel, the Iraqis monitored us. The only place to change our underwear and not be filmed by their surveillance equipment was behind the shower curtains in our rooms.

‘The desk clerk at the hotel constantly called me, saying he was enamoured by me. I later discovered he was a lieutenant in the Iraqi military and I think it was a clumsy effort to elicit information from me.

‘One night, a group of us were out walking and suddenly a red laser shone out. It went from David’s heart to his head and it pretty much stayed on the middle of his forehead.

‘The inspectors said it happened all the time. The idea was to intimidate David, showing they could pick him out as a target even in the dark.’

Enraged, Ms Pederson insisted that the Russian inspector heading the team complain to General Amer Al-Saadi, Saddam Hussein’s British-educated weapons adviser.

'The general said it was children playing,’ she said derisively. ‘The other thing that bothered me was that key people on the team were constantly getting sick.

‘The symptoms were very similar to anthrax. We joked that they were poisoning us so we couldn’t finish our job. David pretty much lived on Vegemite and bread.’

After Ms Pederson returned to America, she was stationed at the Defence Language Institute in California. It has been described as a spy school but she says she worked as a personnel officer. The US Air Force often sent her on assignments that required a linguist, which she is not permitted to discuss.

She met Dr Kelly again after she was transferred to the Pentagon. ‘It was October 2002 and he was visiting Washington,’ she said. ‘He told me that the Iraqis had drawn up a hit list of people to be killed.

‘He said, “I am number three and you also are on it.” At the time, it didn’t really bother either of us. We understood there was a danger because of our jobs.

‘He also told me that if we invaded Iraq, he would be found dead in the woods. He loved to walk in the woods near his home. But he knew that walking alone made him vulnerable. The Iraqis wanted him dead.’

In May 2003, journalist Andrew Gilligan reported on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a source had disclosed that the Blair administration had ‘sexed up’ the dossier, accusing Saddam of harbouring weapons of mass destruction.

Dr Kelly was subsequently named as the source and the Hutton inquiry concluded that this plunged him into depression

Ms Pederson concedes that he was ‘upset’ by the episode but says that he brushed it off, insisting he had been misquoted.

And far from being opposed to the Government’s dossier, she says he was convinced that Saddam lied when he told the UN that he was no longer developing WMDs.

She said: ‘David believed the Iraqis were not being forthcoming during our inspections about their potential for making weapons. If they weren’t up to anything, why did we have to be accompanied by minders? And why were people scared to talk to us?

‘David’s position on the invasion was that it was regrettable but necessary because UN sanctions had failed. He said he was misquoted and his words were twisted and taken out of context.

‘He wasn’t depressed. He was upset. I have taken courses on suicide prevention and he exhibited none of the signs.

‘He was planning for his retirement. He wanted to make more money to provide for his family and he’d had job offers in the States as well as Europe. Also, he was excited that one of his daughters was getting married. He said, “The controversy will blow over.” ’

Ms Pederson claims that at the time of his death, Dr Kelly was looking forward to returning to Iraq. ‘Had he been alive, he finally would have been free to look for evidence of WMDs,’ she said. ‘If anyone could have found them, it would have been David.

‘I am not saying that the Iraqis killed him. But that is one possibility that should be investigated. All the facts suggest that David did not kill himself. It is against our Baha’i faith.

‘But for David there were also personal reasons - he believed his mother’s death was suicide. Research shows that suicide runs in families and I asked him if he would ever do that. I said, “Hypothetically, if you are ever at your wit’s end, promise me that you will seek help.”

‘He said, “I don’t see the relevance. I would never take any life, let alone my own.” He finally did say that if he was ever desperate, he would get help. That’s important because he was a man of his word. He could never hurt his wife and daughters the way that he was hurt by his mother’s death.’

Ms Pederson’s Washington DC lawyer, Mark Zaid, has made available to The Mail on Sunday parts of her final statement to Thames Valley Police, given on September 1, 2003.

A red rose lies on the David Kelly's grave. But the story behind his death is not yet ready to rest in peace

Its ten pages would appear critical, since they describe Iraqi death threats and the incident with the laser. She also stated that she was bewildered about how Dr Kelly could have taken an overdose, as he suffered from a disorder that made it difficult for him to swallow pills.
‘I was so confused when I heard he had swallowed a load of painkillers,’ she told the officers.

She also emphasised in the statement that he suffered from pain and problems ‘grabbing things with his right hand, which he attributed to breaking his elbow’.

Police have implied that she did not give them permission to give her statement to the Hutton inquiry. But in fact she stipulated: ‘If specific information [in the statement] is deemed relevant to the coroner’s inquiry into the death of David Kelly, I am willing for Thames Valley to reveal the information in a non-attributable way.’

However, her statement was never given to the inquiry. The then Assistant Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Michael Page, testified that it ‘contained nothing of relevance’.

After the inquiry, Ms Pederson started to get death threats. ‘Some were from nuts,’ she said. But others, she believes, may have been related to her sensitive work with Dr Kelly in Iraq. And she spoke on condition that we do not reveal her whereabouts.

‘I can’t say for sure that David was murdered,’ she said. ‘But his life had been threatened because he strived to do what was best for humanity.

‘He deserved more from his country than an investigation that overlooked the fact that his right hand was so weak that he had problems cutting a piece of steak.’

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Police helicopter failed to spot dead body of 'suicide' scientist


New information obtained by Bedfordshire on Sunday says the body of Dr David Kelly was not discovered despite the police helicopter flying directly over the spot where he was eventually found.

Dr Kelly was found dead in July 2003 at the height of the controversy over the Iraq invasion. There has never been an inquest but in 2004 the Hutton Inquiry declared his death a suicide.

Bedfordshire Police's helicopter was used in the Oxfordshire search for the missing scientist.

BoS used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to gain access to flight records.

These show that the helicopter flew directly over the spot where Dr Kelly's body was discovered, after he was supposedly already dead.

Heat-imaging equipment, used on both night flights, should have discovered Dr Kelly's corpse, which still had a temperature of 24 degrees centigrade when found.

Bedfordshire Police were unwilling to reveal precise details of the helicopter's imaging system but stated: "It can read a car number plate three-quarters of a mile away from a height of 1,000 feet."

Thames Valley Police's assistant chief constable told the Hutton Inquiry only that the helicopter searched 'around the area of Dr Kelly's house'.

The flight summary records: 'Area search included bridle paths from Longworth north to the River Thames east to Newbridge and back to Kingston Bagpuize.' The Longworth-Thames leg of this ten mile journey took the helicopter directly over Harrowdown Hill at 2.50am on July 18.

According to Hutton Dr Kelly's body had already been there for at least one hour and 35 minutes. Dr Kelly died after supposedly taking an overdose of tablets and cutting his wrist with a blunt knife. The post mortem found that Dr Kelly had died from loss of blood.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: "There has been a thorough investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly and that investigation has been the subject of a major inquiry."Everything we have to say on the matter is fully documented and is a matter of public record."We have no further comment to make."

Lewes MP Norman Baker is an outspoken critic of the official version of Dr Kelly's death. He told Bedfordshire on Sunday: "This new information is significant. It indicates that the helicopter, equipped with heat-seeking technology, searched exactly the area where Dr Kelly's body was later discovered but found nothing."

This provokes a number of new questions about the circumstances of the death of the country's most eminent weapons inspector.

"The Government must now re-open the inquest into the death of Dr Kelly and set a date for a proper inquiry into the Iraq War."


To be clear on this one would need to know:

1. Is a thermal-imaging search subject to operator error -- i.e. is it possible to miss a heat source?

2. Does whether or not a heat source is picked up depend on the level of heat -- i.e. if Dr Kelly's body temperature was approximately 30 degrees at 2.50am, would that have been picked up by the thermal imaging equipment?

3. Might dense forest cover prevent a heat source being picked up - especially if it is below normal body heat?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Without access to the evidence we can only work on likelihoods"

The Strange Death of Dr Kelly. Interview with Rowena Thursby

Some of the credit for not ever letting the Dr Kelly issue drop goes to a lady by the name of Rowena Thursby. In the wake of the unquestioned suicide verdict and the one-sided nature of the Lord Hutton report, Ms Thursby had the resolve to piece together the many voices of dissent. She posted articles on her blog and won the backing of a number of health professionals and medical experts who were increasingly sceptical of the investigative process as well as the official verdict. Ms Thursby kindly accepted to help me explore the issue and answered a few questions.

"I had never been particularly interested in politics", she told me, "but for me 9/11 was the catalyst for extensive reading, as I attempted to comprehend the political processes behind it. It became clear that the PNAC neoconservative think tank had been set on controlling the massive resources in the Caspian Sea basin long before 9/11 -- and capturing control of Iraq was central to their geopolitical plan".

Her analysis on the months leading to the Iraq invasion would only be questioned by all but a handful of people. No doubt two would be Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell:

"During 2002 it became increasingly clear that the American government was intent on invading Iraq and looking for a pretext. Searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq provided one. So when Dr David Kelly insisted upon accuracy when talking about WMDs, he eventually found himself in a perilous situation. There can't have been many intelligent people around who did not wonder, when he was found dead in the woods two days after being hauled in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee, if he had been 'dealt with'.Joseph Wilson, mindful of his own safety, was one of them".

Joseph Wilson's, the US former ambassador to Niger, is an interesting case in point. Like Kelly, he became one of the whistleblowers of the lies behind the Iraq invasion. In an article for the New York Times, he stated that the George W. Bush administration had distorted intelligence to "exaggerate the Iraqi threat". A week later, the US Government unleashed its revenge. Wilson's wife's covert CIA identity as "Valerie Plame" was outed in a Washington Post column, putting her safety at risk and obviously setting an abrupt end to her career. No wonder Joseph Wilson wrote, "I too wondered about Kelly's death…I was horrified that I could actually harbour suspicions… that a democratic government might actually do bodily harm to an opponent".

Ms Thursby, did you ever feel hampered as you began your work to find out more?

"When I was in the thick of it - around the time of the Hutton Report -3,000 e-mails related to the Kelly investigation vanished from my Outlook Express inbox".

But shouldn’t journalists ask the questions that yourself and Norman Baker dared to?"

I lament the fact that there is hardly any investigative journalism nowadays. Few journalists appear to be willing to sink their teeth into a story and stay with it. I suspect many journalists are selected for their tendency to stick to the straight and narrow. Those with more maverick inclinations find they do not have the resources to investigate at a meaningful level".

Do you believe Norman Baker's book can help reopen the case or at least re-focus public opinion? I have the feeling the "it's-the-usual-loonie-conspiracy-theorists" has been already unleashed with a vengeance...

"To make any real difference it needs a whistleblower to come forward with convincing evidence - sufficient to convince not only the Coroner but also Mrs Kelly, who believes it was suicide".

How can her position be explained? Did you speak to her?

"I spoke to Mrs Kelly about the possibility of bringing a judicial review on the Coroner's decision not to re-open the inquest in 2004. She was dead against it because she firmly believes her husband committed suicide. I find her certainty puzzling".

Norman Baker's book ends with a theory. Iraqi hitmen may have been involved in Dr Kelly's 'wet disposal'. Some people dismiss it as conspiracy theory yet it's also true that conspiracy theories arise when a case is shrouded in secrecy.

"Without access to the evidence, we can only work on likelihoods. While it is possible Iraqi hitmen were responsible, I doubt they would have been able to act beneath the radar of British/American intelligence. George Galloway was of the view that the Iraqis barely sneezed without US permission. To set up a suicide scene would require knowledge of the pills, the jacket and the knife -- and the opportunity to take them from the Kelly household such that no one would know they were missing; it seems unlikely that Iraqis would be able to accomplish that without assistance".
Monday, February 18, 2008

"It was impossible for Dr Kelly to have died like that"

Hagley Road interviews Norman Baker MP, author of "The Strange Death of David Kelly"

According to the stereotype, MPs are a collection of spineless, boring and samey individuals. After the squalid 10-year-long display offered by most Labour Party MPs under Messiah Tony, it's now quite difficult to argue against that. Whether it was the Iraq war, tuition fees or foundation hospitals, one of the few certainties of life became that the House of the Unrepresentatives would vote against people's wishes. Yet, it must be said that not all MPs are the same and laudable exceptions do exist. And when they do, they come in the guise of one Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, Sussex, since 1997, a man with an enviable record of tireless investigations into the privileges and expenses of Westminster. One who would probably be called "a pain in the arse" by fellow parliamentarians reluctant to scrutiny and transparency.

Most recently, Norman Baker embarked upon an almost solitary battle to shed light on one of the most disgraceful moments of recent British history, the death of weapons inspector David Kelly. You can read this blog's review of Norman Baker's book The Strange Death of David Kelly here. The topic was too interesting to pass over the chance of asking Mr Baker some questions and the Lewis MP kindly decided to spare a pleasant fifteen minutes.

As I was researching for this I found out you used to work as a TEFL teacher.

I did! Mainly in Eastbourne, but sometimes in Brighton too. I used to teach groups of Swedes. Any advice? Well, teaching Swedish girls…it was a good job, I did it in between other things when I was waiting for my politics to take off.What triggered your interest in the Dr Kelly controversy to the point of writing a book?

I think it was obviously a sensational death. Newspapers and tabloids were on about it all the time and it grabbed my attention like everyone else's. So I waited for Lord Hutton's inquiry to be completed. Rather na├»vely of me, because when the report came out it became apparent it had completely failed to investigate his death, as it spent most of its time analysing the row between the BBC and the government. Then what happened was that letters from medical experts started appearing in the press saying it was impossible for Dr Kelly to have died like that. In July 2006 I published an article on The Mail on Sunday. I had the largest response to anything I've done since becoming an MP. Literally, hundreds of letters of support. In fact, all bar two were supportive. Some people sent me statements or pieces of evidence that Lord Hutton hadn’t used. So I thought that writing a book would be the most sensible way to go about it.

Was relevant evidence actually being sent to you?

Some stuff they sent seemed to be. Yes.

Last year The Independent called you "the most hated man in Westminster". Surely you can wear that as a badge of honour…

Well, it was interesting because, in spite of the title, the article was actually positive. On the other hand you had the Daily Mail headlining "Britain's greatest MP". But neither are true. It's not a question of black or white. In a sense how you describe me is not relevant to things I campaign on. I don’t do it to improve my public image.

How sympathetic - or hostile- was the climate at Westminster throughout the time you spent gathering evidence for your book?

People were instinctively uncomfortable about it. Maybe sceptical, but what I showed them for many years was objective statements. As Matthew Parris said I'm usually right in what I'm doing and people recognise that. I was right on the Millennium Dome, I was right on Mandelson, I was right on Campbell and then climate change. Earlier on people disagreed but I was then vindicated by the way events turned out.

You mentioned quite a few disturbing episodes that occurred while you were writing. For instance, when the hard drive on your PC was completely erased. Did you ever feel you were treading on murky territory? Did you fear for your own safety?

Well, what I tried to do in the book was to make sure I didn’t overegg the pudding. If you overegg the pudding, that's easiest way to be rubbished. I haven’t written anything to exactly say that there was a direct connection. I just described what happened. But, you know, it may be entirely innocuous and coincidental and I have no evidence to the contrary. That's what I wrote in the book. Did I fear for my safety? Well, you do what you think is right. You can cross the road and get runover and you can't live like that. The best defence in any such situation is to keep a high profile in the papers, therefore if anything happens then at least it's in the public view.

So you don’t have any protection as an MP? A police escort or something?

A Ford Escort, more like.

It's quite puzzling that Dr Kelly's wife, Janice, has kept such a low profile since the start of the whole controversy. Why do you think that is…and did you try to contact her?

I don’t want to hurt anybody's sensitivity therefore I don’t think it's appropriate to go into what I did or I didn’t in relation with Janice Kelly. As I wrote in my book, there are members of the family who were unhappy with the verdict and you may be aware of that. As with Mrs Kelly and her actions, it's all in the book.

Similarly, Ruth Absalom, the last person who allegedly spoke to David Kelly before his disappearance, gave a fairly muddled statement to the Hutton inquiry. Did you manage to track her down?

Yes and no. I found out where she's living but she's got Alzheimers or similar debilitating illness which means she was unable to contribute. I suppose in retrospect it may have started at that point already. I spoke to relatives, but no, they couldn’t shed any light.

Britain seems to have remarkable ability to sweep most relevant questions under the carpet - perhaps I dare say in a way other countries haven’t. The endless post 7/7 spirit-of-the-blitz rhetoric was a typical example of weapons of mass distraction. In the light of Lord Hutton's whitewash, what's your view?

I would say this. Any society which functions properly as a democratic society needs certain safeguards. To begin with, in this country there is too much centralised power. Also, you need a system of freedom of information. Thirdly, a system of accountability for the government of the day so that if they cover something up it should be found out. We haven’t got that. A lot of info in my book came from the US. Though faulty they have congress hearing and you can get to bottom of some issues. I mean, Nixon was subject to impeachment and we that simply wouldn’t happen here. It was quite clear that many people thought Blair lied but nothing happened.

I mean, I find it incredible that a war can be unleashed on what soon turn out to be a pack of lies and no political consequences take place. I mean, look at what happened to Aznar in Spain in 2004…would that take place in Britain? I don’t think so…

I think… sometimes if you wanna tell a lie just tell a big one.

I thought your book was incredibly analytical in the way cases were put forward. Only, in the last chapter, you seem to give some credit to the Iraqi element theory, yet quite without a great deal of evidence. Did you find out more than you were allowed to publish?

Yes [chuckles]. There were two constraining facts. There's the issue of libel and my publishers advised me to drop a few things from my book. Secondly, in the last chapter I refer to one particular source, and a great deal of what he told me had to be removed in order to protect his identity and safety.

Amongst the many reviews of your book I've looked at, The Times' David Aaronovitch was dishearteningly dismissive. Personally I don’t even think he read your book. For one, he glossed over the fact that under one tablet of Copraxamol was found inside Kelly's body, whereas the official version spoke of 29 tablets. Now, I know in ten years he's never written a critical word, not a single one, about the Blair government, but whatever happened to investigative journalism?

Investigative journalism is alive and kicking. Well, ok, not alive and kicking, perhaps more on a life support machine in fact. There's a book, 'Flat Earth News', written by one of my constituents, Nick Davies, analysing the weaknesses of the press. There are indeed plenty of good journalists out there, Anthony Barnett from The Observer, for example, and one or two papers who have the time or money to do it. The Sunday Times does it, the Mail on Sunday does it…they have got time and money. But the worst journalists are those who betray their profession by simply acting as promoters for those in power. What [Aaronovitch] wrote was a pre-emptive strike. At the time of his article, the book hadn’t even been published.

But perhaps he got hold of sample copies, you know…made available to the press prior to publishing dates?

No, no, there was no such thing! He just read one or two extracts from the Daily Mail and that was it!

Has the LibDems' policy on Iraq changed in any way since the election of Nick Clegg as leader?

No, it hasn’t. We want to get out. We’re doing no good in Iraq and we need to extract ourselves as soon as possible. That's what the public as large has said to me. The picture coming out from those days is one of a totally discredited government who behaved disgracefully and with no control from within the [Labour] party. Then we had a Tory party who at the time was totally out of touch and unable to form any coherent policy. So the only people against the war were us. In fact, every single Liberal Democrat MP voted against the war in the Commons.

In the book you also hint at the possibility that Tony Blair was left with no choice with regard to Iraq. He appeared disconcertingly eager to please the Bush administration. Apart from losing political capital what else could he have been scared of?

He put himself into a corner where he thought he could be very clever. He thought he could do what Bush wanted by agreeing to the war in 2002, so long before the war actually started. Secondly, he was still of the opinion he could get the UN Security Council to authorise it. That way he could get cover and still please Bush. But things went down a different route, so Blair ended up tied to Bush's wagon and unable to separate himself. He played his cards rather badly and things went different from what he wanted. Again, one section of the book had to be edited out but the question you can still read is basically: "If the US had info which, if released, would have caused Blair to resign, in what way would he have behaved differently from how he did."

Some people are pointing out that they were right all along as the number of casualties in Iraq is now decreasing. But what pisses me off is that if you show a bit of realism you're deemed a Cassandra who's going against the grain. This from the people who declared victory 5 years ago and are still bogged down.

I mean, fatalities are decreasing only because they were at such a horrendously high figure but they are still a high figure. The whole Iraq escapade has been a total disaster for UK policies across the world, for the UK's image in the world, as we are now seen as an adjunct to the US. Secondly, it's damaged Iraq, it's in such a mess, and it may as well splinter into two. Saddam was a ghastly grotesque maniac but he held the country together. Now it's falling apart, especially into the two Sunni and Shia entities. It's also damaging US interests because if you want to pour petrol on the flame then that's exactly what's been happening. Radical Islamism has been escalating to a point we didn’t have before.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Media Disinformation regarding the Death of Dr. David Kelly?

It may or may not be disinformation, but it is a shabby attempt at a review.

Richard Norton-Taylor, author of a Guardian review of Norman Baker's book,"The Strange Death of David Kelly", quotes out of context to make it seem as though Baker concedes that Kelly's dismay at apparently being caught in a lie at the FAC (Foreign Affairs Committee) is a plausible reason for his suicide; this, however, is only a theory, and a tenuous one at that - as Baker goes on to explain.

Oddly, without saying why he thinks it important, Norton-Taylor then castigates Baker for not raising the role of Andrew Gilligan in priming David Chidgey, member of the FAC, about Kelly's risque comments to BBC reporter Susan Watts.

Finally, having raised no substantive objections to the book, he concludes his review by rubbishing it entirely with, 'There is no evidence supporting the many theories that Kelly was murdered and plenty of evidence supporting the conclusion that he was driven to suicide.' In actual fact, the book lays out a great deal of evidence to suggest Dr Kelly's death was not suicide.

Rather than pay false homage to Baker's "terrier-like persistence", then proceed to reinforce his own ill-founded beliefs, perhaps Norton-Taylor should, like a true journalist, investigate the subject for himself.

-- RT

In response to Norton-Taylor's review, Drs Christopher J Burns-Cox , C Stephen Frost, and David Halpin sent the following letter to the Guardian:

Dear Sir

Richard Norton-Taylor struggles mightily to discredit Norman Baker and his recently published book The Strange Death of David Kelly, in his review of that book (Guardian, 1 December 2007). The struggle is all the more confusing because Norton-Taylor does concede that "the inquiry [the Hutton Inquiry] into the circumstances surrounding Kelly's death, which also became a quasi-inquest, shed a bright light on the way Downing Street, with the help of intelligence chiefs who should have known better, conspired to draw up the disgraceful Iraqi weapons dossier."

Norton-Taylor entirely misses, and one has to wonder whether he does so deliberately, the central point made by the many reasonable people who are concerned that Dr David Kelly has been denied a proper inquest: that due process of law has not been followed, indeed it has been comprehensively subverted.

These two articles point unerringly to a Government cover-up. The importance of such a cover-up (in the context of the investigation of the suspicious death of the world expert on biological and chemical weapons who, at the time of his death, was perceived to be blowing the whistle on the Government which had taken the country to illegal war on a pack of lies) cannot be over-emphasised. That is the end of the argument. Richard Norton-Taylor (and others in his position) should be pressing for a proper investigation of Kelly's death, ie a proper inquest, rather than wasting his time attempting to rubbish Norman Baker's book, while claiming the moral high ground. Otherwise, there is a risk that he and other apparent apologists for the dreadful Blair and Brown governments are seen in the future as the shameless enablers that perhaps they are.

Yours faithfully

Dr Christopher J Burns-Cox FRCP MD

Dr C Stephen Frost BSc MBChB

David Halpin FRCS

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Government rejects call for new David Kelly inquiry

Andy Tate, The Argus
9th January 2008

The Government has rejected calls for a new inquiry into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly following claims in a book by Lewes MP Norman Baker that he may have been murdered.

Lord Hutton's report into the death of the scientist concluded that Dr Kelly had committed suicide, but Mr Baker, in a book published late last year, said Dr Kelly was probably the victim of a group of Iraqi exiles.

Dr Kelly's comments to the journalist Andrew Gilligan about weapons in Iraq sparked a long-running row between Downing Street and the BBC which was still continuing when Dr Kelly was found dead in woods near his Oxfordshire home in July 2003.
Labour peer Lord Berkeley said at Lords question time: "The new book by Norman Baker concludes that the suicide of Dr Kelly would be extremely unlikely and certainly not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

"The Hutton inquiry was not a statutory one and no evidence was taken under oath, so isn't it now necessary for the Government to set up a proper statutory inquiry to investigate fully the circumstances of this senior Government employee."

Lord Hutton concluded that Dr Kelly died by cutting his left wrist and taking co-proxamol painkilling tablets.

Justice Minister Lord Hunt this week described Mr Baker's book as "a good Christmas read".

But he told peers: "There was a thorough inquiry by Lord Hutton which reached the conclusion that Dr Kelly committed suicide.

"Lord Hutton was satisfied no other person was involved in the death of Dr Kelly because a very lengthy examination, of the area where his body was found, by police officers and by forensic biologists found no traces whatever of a struggle or involvement by a third party.

"And the wounds to Dr Kelly came from a knife from his study in his home and it was highly unlikely that a third party could have forced Dr Kelly to swallow a large number of co-proxamol tablets."

Mr Baker repeated calls for new inquiries into the Iraq war and Dr Kelly's death.

He said: "I am very pleased that Lord Berkeley took the decision to raise this matter in the House of Lords and to call for a new inquiry into the death of Dr Kelly.

"The Hutton Inquiry was far from thorough, as the minister claimed, but was an incomplete, flawed inquiry which left many very important questions unanswered.

"What I would like to see now is both a proper inquiry into the whole fiasco of the Iraq war, and a re-opening of the inquest into the death of the country's most eminent weapons inspector."