That the fact that Dr Kelly's body had been moved by a person or persons unknown after its discovery by search dog Brock shortly before 9.20 am does not in itself prove that Dr Kelly's death was something other than suicide. It does obviously beg the question though: why was it moved?
Let's look at the evidence submitted by the individual witnesses at the Hutton Inquiry, to which I will add my own bits of commentary where relevant.
Following the evidence of the search dog's discovery of the body of Dr Kelly these were the exchanges:
MR KNOX: What did you see?
MS HOLMES: I could see a body slumped against the bottom of a tree, so I turned around and shouted to Paul to ring Control and tell them that we had found something and then went closer to just see whether there was any first aid that I needed to administer.
MR KNOX: And how close up to the body did you go?
MS HOLMES: Within sort of a few feet of the body.
MR KNOX: And did you notice anything about the position of the body?
MS HOLMES: He was at the base of the tree with almost his head and his shoulders just slumped back against the tree.
MR KNOX: I take it you did not actually go up to the body itself and feel the pulse?
MS HOLMES: I did not touch it, no.
Ms Holmes can be seen on this video (scroll to about 6.32) confirming what she saw and what she said at the Inquiry. Note that she had got to within a few feet of the body and that it wasn't just Dr Kelly's head against the tree but his shoulders as well.
These are the relevant exchanges:
MR DINGEMANS.: Did you see what Brock the dog had found?
MR CHAPMAN: Yes.
MR DINGEMANS.: And what was that?
MR CHAPMAN: The body of a gentleman sitting up against a tree.
MR DINGEMANS.: And can you recall what he was wearing?
MR CHAPMAN: All I could see from the distance I got was he was wearing a dark jacket and light coloured shirt.
MR DINGEMANS.: And how close did you get to the body?
MR CHAPMAN: I probably reached about 15 to 20 metres from it.
MR DINGEMANS.: Could you see anything at all?
MR CHAPMAN: He was sitting with his back up against a tree and there was an obvious injury to his left arm.
MR DINGEMANS.: An obvious injury to his left arm. What was that injury?
MR CHAPMAN: In as far as it was all covered in blood.
So we have Mr Chapman using the words "sitting up against a tree" and then "sitting with his back up against a tree". This again is absolutely clear that it is more than Dr Kelly's head against the tree. We must remember too that Paul also would have seen the body a little later because in his evidence he says "I took DC Coe in to show him where the body was." Another point that perhaps others haven't noticed was his answer about what Dr Kelly was wearing: "a dark jacket and light coloured shirt". From the distance of 15 to 20 metres what was in his near vertical line of sight would have registered rather better than the part of the body in contact with the ground.
Here is the exchange with Mr Knox:
MR KNOX: And how was the body positioned?
COE: It was laying on its back -- the body was laying on its back by a large tree, the head towards the trunk of the tree.
It can be seen there is absolutely no mention here of the head or any part of the body up against the tree - "the head is towards the trunk of the tree". We have the situation then of DC Coe and Mr Chapman looking at the same scene simultaneously when the former was shown the body by the latter. It is quite clear from the testimony that DC Coe was physically shown the body, it wasn't a case of them getting to the edge of the wood and Mr Chapman pointing DC Coe in the right direction. To my mind it is absolutely impossible to reconcile the descriptions of the body position by these two witnesses.
MR DINGEMANS: And what did you see there?
POLICE CONSTABLE DEAN FRANKLIN: We walked between 50 and 70 metres into the wood up a slight gradient, and in a clearing at the base of a tree was the body of a white male.
MR DINGEMANS: Do you recall what was being worn?
POLICE CONSTABLE DEAN FRANKLIN: I believe he had a blue jacket on, a white coloured shirt and blue denim jeans.
MR DINGEMANS: And what was his position?
POLICE CONSTABLE DEAN FRANKLIN: He was lying on his back with his right hand to his side and his left hand was sort of inverted with the palm facing down (Indicates), facing up on his back.
MR KNOX: Before the paramedics approached Dr Kelly's body, can you remember what position it was in?
POLICE CONSTABLE SAWYER: Lying on its back with its head at the base of a tree, a large tree. The head was tilted to the left. The right arm was by the side. The left arm was palm down. There was a large amount of blood on the back of the left arm. There was a watch and a curved knife by that wrist.
Both these two policemen refer to the tree but don't indicate that the head or any other part of the anatomy were up against the tree.
Vanessa Hunt (Paramedic)
MR DINGEMANS : And when you got into the wooded area, what did you see?
MS HUNT: There was a male on his back, feet towards us.
David Bartlett (Ambulance Technician)
MR KNOX : What did you then come across?
MR BARTLETT: They led us up to where the body was laid, feet facing us, laid on its back, left arm out to one side (indicates) and the right arm across the chest.
The ambulance crew were as close to the body as anyone could be but there is no mention at all of any part of Dr Kelly's body up against a tree. Later, in talking to the media, Mr Bartlett was to say that Dr Kelly's body was well clear of the tree as you can read here I also think that Rowena Thursby had ascertained the same information from Mr Bartlett at some earlier time.
Dr Nicholas Hunt (Forensic pathologist)
|Could you describe the position of the body at the scene?|
MR HUNT: Yes, certainly. He was laying on his back near a tree. The left arm was extended out from the body slightly, closer to shoulder level, his right arm was laying across his chest area and his legs were extended out straight in front of him.
MR KNOX: I take it from what you just said he was laying on his back?
MR HUNT: He was, yes.
MR KNOX: Was any part of his body actually touching the tree; can you recall?
MR HUNT: I recall that his head was quite close to branches and so forth, but not actually over the tree.
Lord Hutton was obviously aware of the concern regarding apparent difference in body position as testified by different witnesses. This is what he says in his report:
"I have seen a photograph of Dr Kelly's body in the wood which shows that most of his body was lying on the ground but that his head was slumped against the base of the tree - therefore a witness could say either that the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree."
So that's all right then! Except of course it isn't. His Lordship's statement is quite vague as to its content. Is the photograph one of the many taken by PC Sawyer at the scene? In which case it being an official photo would have had a time and date stamp on it for sure with the camera set to do this automatically. Perhaps Paul Chapman, who we know had a mobile phone with him, had a camera facility on the phone and sneaked a picture when he showed DC Coe the body. I would suspect not but who knows. Certainly Lord Hutton's statement doesn't resolve the issue. At heart here (to me) are the statements by Paul Chapman and DC Coe and I consider them irreconcilable.