Friday, 25 March 2011

Letter from Miriam Stevenson to the Attorney General

Both Dr Andrew Watt (author of and myself have written letters to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve MP with reasoned argument as to why an inquest now needs to be held into the death of Dr David Kelly.  As Andrew and I both write blogs it is obviously easy for us to put our respective letters into the public domain so others can read the points we have made to Mr Grieve.

Of course there are others who have made submissions to the Attorney General and one such person is Miriam Stevenson who lives in Australia.  Miriam has kindly agreed to her letter being reproduced on this blog and the text is below:

12th Feb 2011.
Address withheld
To: Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, Attorney General, UK
Dear Mr Grieve,
Regarding the re-opening of the inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly
I am writing to you with some concerns and I hope you will respond via email.
I have followed the case of Dr David Kelly since I heard of his death in July 2003. This is a long time ago, too long ago.
I am a professional social worker and post- graduate researcher who is well used to working within legal frameworks and following processes which flow from these frameworks. I have extensive experience in the Child Protection and other fields. I completed my Masters’ degree in a faculty of law and am currently working on my doctoral thesis.
In my view, there can be no possible dispute that there must be a new inquest into the death of David Kelly. To refuse this is to deny that due process exists. As noted in the doctors’ December 2010 Memorial1: of the six criteria for the re-opening of an inquest into a death laid down in statute under British law, all six are met when only one has to exist.
As most lay people are now aware, Freedom of Information requests have established that: there were/are no fingerprints on the knife with which Dr Kelly is alleged to have deliberately and fatally cut himself; there were/are no fingerprints on the blister packs of co-proxamol which are said to have contributed to his death; there were/are no fingerprints on the water bottle, watch or mobile phone found adjacent to his body.2 These issues alone fatally undermine the verdict of suicide.
It is a travesty of justice that this information had to be sought and obtained by members of the public rather than revealed in the course of an inquest or the Hutton Inquiry. What are people paying their taxes for?
Incidentally, I am most surprised that an esteemed ‘expert’ such as Professor Hawton offered reasons as to why Dr Kelly would have taken his own life without checking this basic information for himself! I also note that he did not cite one piece of research evidence in support of his assessment that Dr Kelly’s experiences and mental state might precipitate suicide. This is most unusual as from around 2000 most (highly regarded) professionals were increasingly required to substantiate courtroom claims via reference to research evidence in the name of ‘evidence - based practice’.3
I do not intend to comment further on the Memorial other than to say you have been provided with an authoritative case by the doctors and, if you have integrity, you must support their position. I believe that the doctors have been representing, without prejudice, the interests of thinking British Citizens on what is essentially a fundamental Human Rights matter- the Right to Life. 4 5 Dr Kelly’s life was taken from him (it seems) and the duty of the coroner is to “speak for the dead in order to protect the living”, as accurately described by the Canadians.6 For the sake of both Dr Kelly and us still ‘living’, a new inquest needs to be held.
There are two further issues that I would like to address and I would appreciate your comments.
Protecting the Kelly family
Firstly there is Lord Hutton’s assertion (and sporadic media argument) that the feelings of Dr Kelly’s family need to be ‘protected’. Although I am aware that the post-mortem report has been published, there are still a number of documents relating to this case which are covered by a secrecy act. Clear explanation around the reason for continued secrecy of some files connected with Dr Kelly’s death has never been given and a number of points need to be made:
  1. I have every sympathy for any grieving family and especially for relatives of Dr Kelly as his death was also highly public and political because of his role as an eminent weapons inspector. On this matter however, I would remind you that the parents of Victoria Climbie had to sit through a very searching public inquiry into the horrific torture and murder of their young daughter.7 They had to listen to accounts of how key agencies failed to protect her. These parents graciously did so, because it was necessary for British Citizens to know what had happened to Victoria. From this searching inquiry, agencies could be better informed about child protection practice. Similarly, the death of Dr Kelly and the absence of WMD in Iraq have continuing implications for all British Citizens regarding the integrity of the UK justice system and UK government. Please comment.

  1. You will be aware that in the case of the parents of children killed in the Dunblane tragedy that many of them objected to evidence relating to the circumstances of death being hidden by a public secrecy order.8 In my professional experience most loving families want to know the absolute truth about what happened to their loved ones at the time of death whether the death was expected or not. Please comment.

  1. As a legal practitioner, you will be well aware that abuse and murder both occur within families. Much as we would like to believe all families operate in a loving and functional manner and in the best interests of their members, the law cannot and must not make this assumption for this reason. Even where abuse is perpetrated or murder committed by individuals outside of the family, there are often many reasons as to why family members may not honestly speak out; witness intimidation or fear of retribution may be at play. Please comment.
The Ditchley Foundation
My second point relates to your position as a governor of the Ditchley Foundation.9 I understand that this charity was set up to ‘promote Anglo-American understandings’ and has a fairly wide-ranging agenda. I understand that participation in its governance and conferences is by invitation only.
As an interested and active citizen, I took the time to examine some details. Stemming from your involvement in this Foundation I have a number of queries:
  1. I note that Sir Kevin Tebbit, Sir David Omand, Sir Peter Ricketts and Rt Hon Jack Straw are all fellow governors of the Ditchley Foundation.10 Kevin Tebbit and David Omand were both key witnesses at the Hutton Inquiry.11 Peter Ricketts’ name appears in at least one Hutton document and Jack Straw was the Foreign Secretary (2001-2006) who, we since find, ignored expert legal advice that the proposed invasion of Iraq was, in fact, illegal.12

In the event of a new inquest into the death of Dr Kelly, any of these people may be called to give evidence under oath and may eventually be more rigorously cross-examined as to their knowledge of circumstances surrounding his death. Under these conditions they may be required to, perhaps, state something new or different. In making the decision as to whether to apply yourself to the High Court for a new inquest into the death of Dr Kelly or to give leave to the doctors involved to seek leave to apply to the High Court for a re-opened inquest, can you honestly give all assurances that you would not be placed in any ‘conflict of interest’ situation with regard to your association with the above-named parties via governance of the Ditchley Foundation?

  1. Secondly, I note that Judith “Jami” Miscik, is a member of the board of the American Ditchley Foundation.13 Apparently Ms Miscik served as the CIA’s Deputy Director for Intelligence between 2002 and 2005 during which time she was responsible for all CIA analysis and preparation for the Presidents Daily Brief.14 This means Ms Miscik was involved with the US administration throughout the whole phase which encompassed the preparation of the Iraq dossier and the invasion of Iraq. The intimate relationship between the UK and US administrations in this timeframe is well documented.15 These constitute two factors which are intimately associated with the Dr Kelly case as evidenced in the Hutton Inquiry. This in turn may indicate that Ms Miscik also had and/or has some connection with individuals who may be called to give evidence at a re-opened inquest. Through her position on the board of the American Ditchley Foundation it would certainly appear that Ms Miscik also has a connection with yourself.

In making the decision as to whether to apply yourself to the High Court for a new inquest into the death of Dr Kelly or to give leave to the doctors involved to apply to the High Court for a re-opened inquest, can you honestly provide all assurances that you would not be placed in any kind of ‘conflict of interest’ situation with regard to the above associations? Please comment.
In conclusion, there is much evidence to suggest that there was foul play in the case of the death of Dr David Kelly. He was an eminent weapons inspector at a critical time in world history. A catastrophic ‘miscarriage of justice’ has almost certainly taken place in returning a suicide verdict. This fact will not fade with time.
Mr Grieve, I was most heartened to see/hear your speech indicating your deep commitment to Human Rights.16 Please demonstrate this commitment via your wholehearted support for the re-opening of Dr Kelly’s inquest.

Yours sincerely,

Miriam Stevenson, CQSW, BA (Hons), MA (Dist) Socio-Legal Studies.


Addendum to letter dated 12th February 2011 from Miriam Stevenson
Date of addendum: 20th February 2011
To: Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, Attorney General, UK
Dear Mr Grieve,
Since writing my letter to you (dated 12th February, 2011) I would like to highlight some views on how British Justice should proceed as expressed in the words of the Rt Hon Sir John Major, Former Prime Minister and current Chairman of the Ditchley Foundation.
I was impressed by a most eloquent article by Sir John Major in the Times, dated June 6th 2008.1 In discussing the advancing ‘war on terror’ and 42 day pre-charge detention for suspected terrorists proposed by New Labour, Sir John candidly challenged the government’s position:
...the case for war was embellished by linking the Iraqi regime to the 9/11 attacks on New York - for which there is not one shred of evidence. As we moved towards war, that misinformation was compounded by the implication that Saddam's Iraq was a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom, which plainly it was not (My emphasis)
Later he adds:
I don't believe that sacrifice of due process can be justified. If we are seen to defend our own values in a manner that does violence to them, then we run the risk of losing those values. Even worse, if our own standards fall, it will serve to recruit terrorists more effectively than their own propaganda could ever hope to. 2 (My emphasis)

I further applaud Sir John Major when he unequivocally called (in June 2009) for the Chilcot Inquiry to be held ‘predominantly in public’ with witnesses giving evidence ‘under oath’.3 He also expressed concerns regarding the considerable delay in setting up the Inquiry.4
Mr Grieve, I hope that you will remember Sir John Major’s above consistent and coherent arguments for the sharing of accurate, evidence based information, due process, transparency, timeliness and truth under oath. These are indeed hallmarks of a high quality justice system and are exactly what British Citizens need in response to ongoing unanswered questions about the death of Dr David Kelly.
Miriam Stevenson.



  1. I notice that MoD policy director,(2001-2004) Simon Webb, appears at key Ditchley Foundation conferences. He somehow managed to avoid being called to the Hutton Inquiry, despite being name checked at a key stage.

    In a fascinating Pre-Hutton Inquiry article in the Scotsman, we read this...
    Insiders say Kelly also belonged to an MoD group, called the Baghdad task-force, which was chaired by the ministry’s policy director, Simon Webb. As such he would have enjoyed access to all drafts of the now discredited dossier as it passed from department to department and ultimately to Tony Blair’s desk. Kelly’s close friend, chemical weapons expert Professor Alastair Hay, described him to Scotland on Sunday as the government’s "principle resource".

    So, why did Simon Webb not appear? (based like Dr Kelly in the Metropole building) Here is Simon Webb's exchange at the Chilcot Inquiry in 2010, where he also discusses (redacted) Libya's WMD status in 2002. "Libya was moving quite high up the agenda in early 2002"

  2. Who can recognise any familiar faces here in this defence congomerate

  3. Felix, thanks for the link detailing the Simon Webb evidence at the Chilcot Inquiry - I am half way through reading it.

    So yet another person linked to the Ditchley Foundation.

  4. At the time, Pauline Neville-Jones (2002/3 period) was a director of the Ditchley Foundation. She was also simultaneously Qinetiq chairman and BBC governor who tried to play down David Kelly's position to Gavin Davies (see my comment post above at 08.06) which emerged at the Hutton Inquiry. See this fascinating exchange with redaction: BBC/14/0135-8
    Incidentally,The Ditchley meeting of 8-10 Feb 2002 produced some fascinating notes by the Director:
    "It was noted that al Qu'eda links had not been shown with Iraq and North Korea. The US was assumed to have extended the war on terrorism to WMD, influenced no doubt by the anthrax attacks in the USA following the events of 11 September even though responsibility for these attacks had never been established. A comment was made that the USA seemed comfortable with the thought of WMD in Israeli hands but not in others in the Middle East."
    "Iraq generated a variety of views. On one hand we thought that the US Administration wished to see a regime change, although they had not worked out how to achieve this nor were we certain what sort of regime might replace Saddam. Some urged the USA to "cool it" in its rhetoric and attitude to Iraq"

  5. Brian - I didn't reference the earlier November 2009 evidence et seq. of Simon Webb at the Iraq Inquiry, running into and given on the same day as that of Peter Ricketts.( FCO political director who agreed with outing Kelly if his name were put forward). This evidence concerned intentions on Iraq in 2001,however.

    It is interesting to note that Jack Straw was accompanied by two others at the 27 June 2003 FAC appearance , FAC/2/0326-49) - William Earman CMG Director General Defence/Intelligence FCO and Peter Ricketts , Director General Political FCO.

    On 25 September, immediately after publication of the September dossier, Straw was accompanied by Ehrman, Edward Chaplin, Director Middle East/North Africa FCO and David Kelly himself - "adviser".

    The exchange at CAB/11/0138-9 has this fascinating nugger from John Williams,FCO Press Officer who produced the 9th September 2002 draft dossier.
    "'s outrageous that the BBC should be defending a story from someone so far out of the loop*. Heads should roll"


    . Mr Knox:"And did you ever, yourself, speak to Dr Kelly?"
    Mr Williams: "Not that I recall, no."

    (Hutton Inquiry)

    1. Are you the mad woman who keeps making FOI requests via WHATDOTHEYKNOW?