There is a new article about the death of Dr David Kelly in the "Oxford Mail". I am pleased to see that the writer, Liam Sloan, has flagged up a number of different aspects relating to Dr Kelly's mysterious death. It is quite meaty and with additional sub headings relating to:
The police helicopter
One minor criticism is that Mr Sloan mistakenly states that the pathologist's report only came into the public domain last December whereas of course it was on 22nd October. It's possible he got confused with the legal document, "The Memorial", that the Doctors wrote to the Attorney General. This was initially published in the Daily Mail in December and is now on the BBC website.
We know from Freedom of Information requests that a helicopter was at Harrowdown Hill on the morning of 18th July 2003. The record shows that it was there between 10.35 and 11.00 and also that it landed for the last five minutes of this time. It was supposedly tasked to take photographs at Harrowdown Hill but the reason for the landing isn't disclosed - that vital piece of information in the log being redacted.
A helicopter had been used in the search phase but it seems that this finally went off scene at 4.45, although shown as 0.45 on the print out I'm guessing that it should be 4.45 although that leaves a measly 10 minutes for searching after it had refuelled. As part of ACC Page's meeting at 5.15 that morning there is another helicopter mention:
Q. What was the result of your meeting at 5.15?
A. Well the result of my meeting was that we began to establish a search pattern. As a holding measure, I asked for officers who were reinforcement officers who were arriving about this stage -- we had between 30 and 40 officers available to us, and I asked them to start searching outward from Dr Kelly's house. I asked for the helicopter to be brought into play again.
Although daylight by this time the helicopter doesn't reappear to continue searching. A little later ACC Page talks of having the mounted branch from Milton Keynes on the way because they can cover the ground quickly but at 7.30 they had yet to arrive. Much of that part of Oxfordshire appears to consist of large open fields with just a small amount of woodland, ideal for continued helicopter searching I would have thought.
Louise Holmes, Paul Chapman and search dog Brock arrive at the bottom of the track leading up to Harrowdown Hill at 8 o'clock. This is part of the questioning of Mr Chapman by Mr Dingemans:
Q. Where did you park up?
A. At the southern end of the path of our search area, just north of Longworth.
Q. When you arrived was anyone else in the area?
Q. Passed any cars on the way? A. A few in the village on the way.
Q. Did you see any other search teams around?
Q. Did you hear a helicopter or anything? A. No, there was no helicopter at all.
The question one might ask is why did Mr Dingemans mention a helicopter: he must surely have known that there wasn't one flying in that area at that time. I believe that he doesn't pose any questions without some (useful to him) reason.
So we have a picture painted as a result of the examination by Mr Dingemans of no helicopter activity or search teams around. Yet we know that when the ambulance crew arrive there is a buzz of activity on the ground and 40 minutes later a helicopter is above Harrowdown Hill.
Could it just be that Mr Dingemans wants to instill in his audience a picture of very little action happening at this critical time and certainly no helicopter flight.
It was primarily concerned about the discrepancy between ACC Page's testimony at the Hutton Inquiry and the result of a Freedom of Information request concerning fingerprint evidence on the dental files of Dr Kelly. The information in the FOI response clearly suggests to me that the most senior police officer from Thames Valley Police to appear at the Inquiry was not being honest in at least some of his evidence.
The question of the disappearing/reappearing dental files requires further thought.
You need to scroll to 22.25 for the start of Sir Peter's question.
He commences by referring to the fact that there is to be a full investigation into the abduction of Madeleine McCann and then wonders if there is a much stronger case for a full investigation into the "suicide or murder" of Dr Kelly. The response from Cameron seems to be clumsy and inept - you get the sense that Cameron is caught off balance. Talking of the inquest and report is incorrect, what he surely meant was the inquiry and report. As to being clear, well!
It is nice to think that maybe Sir Peter is old fashioned enough to ask a question that isn't the normal plant from the home side.
On the 1st August 2003 Lord Hutton makes his Opening Statement at the Inquiry. He discusses his terms of reference and on page 3 states:
... it will be for me to decide the order in which the witnesses will be called.
He explains that taking the oral evidence will be split into two parts, part two after a period of consideration on his part being primarily devoted to the recall of certain witnesses from part one. This second part would permit a degree of cross examination.
This post is primarily concerned with two of the witnesses who failed to make part one and who therefore weren't subject to any cross examination when they made their only appearance in part two. There is also the interesting case of another witness in part one who certainly didn't seem to appear in his designated time slot, if he was due to come at all.
Before looking at these three people I should mention that on the home page of the Hutton website there is a tab "Times and Witnesses". Unfortunately this appears to have been completed retrospectively so we can't see from it what the original "batting order" would have been, if this information for part one had been published in its entirety. Obviously the information pertaining to part two could only have been completed once Hutton decided who to recall.
It seems to me that there is little information on the internet to show what the original intention might have been as to the times of witness appearance. However I think it's worth looking at the "when" and "why" of the three witness appearances referred to earlier.
Detective Constable Coe
The morning of Tuesday 2nd September is a busy one at the inquiry with testimonies from Ruth Absalom, Dr Warner, Louise Holmes, Paul Chapman, PC Franklin, PC Sawyer and DS Webb. After DS Webb finishes we have this:
MR DINGEMANS: My Lord, Detective Coe, we have not been able to get him here this morning. That, in fact, would then complete this morning's witnesses. We have finished now, I am sorry it is a wee bit early. LORD HUTTON: When would you like to sit again?
MR DINGEMANS: 2 o'clock.
LORD HUTTON: Very well. I will rise until 2 o'clock.
(The short adjournment)
No explanation is given as to why DC Coe can't turn up. When he does give his testimony in part two DC Coe in my estimation spends no longer than 10 minutes giving his sparse evidence. Therefore if he had appeared when he was supposed to he would have finished by 12.15 say. Scrolling down to the bottom of the "Times and Witnesses" tab there is a daily timetable that shows that the Lunch Adjournment is at 1pm suggesting that the morning's evidence would still finish 'a wee bit early'.
If I was naturally suspicious I would be tempted to believe that DC Coe was held back because his testimony was so much at variance with the other witnesses that morning; and of course it's possible that Thames Valley Police wanted time to carefully prepare him in the light of the earlier oral evidence.
Forensic Pathologist Dr Hunt
On the morning of 3rd September ACC Page is making his first visit to the Inquiry. This is part of the interchange with Mr Dingemans:
Q. What was the name of the pathologist who --
A. The pathologist was Mr Nicholas Hunt.
Q. We were hoping to call Mr Hunt to give evidence this morning, but he is on holiday and he is coming in stage 2.
This begs the question: when was it known that Dr Hunt would be away on holiday? Dr Hunt is certainly one individual that would have no doubt that Hutton would call him to the Inquiry. Wouldn't some clarity as to his holiday arrangements be forthcoming when witness times were being arranged at the start? The good old BBC website has a nugget in a report of the proceedings on the 1st September: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3196595.stm Towards the bottom of the page there is a box headed "This Week's Witnesses" and on "Wednesday" we see the name "Dr Nicholas Hunt". The BBC must surely have got this information from the Inquiry.
Cock up or conspiracy? I lean toward the latter!
Forensic Pathologist Mr Green
Dr Hunt then should have given his testimony on 3rd September but is on holiday. This leaves a time gap in the day's proceedings. However the ever helpful to Lord Hutton ACC Page has arranged the forensic biologist Mr Green to come to the Inquiry at short notice. My question now is: was Mr Green ever scheduled to come to part one?
There is no mention of intended witnesses on the following day on the BBC page that I have previously linked to. In fact part one of the Inquiry is conveniently completed at 1 pm on the Thursday. But for Dr Hunt's "holiday" Mr Green wouldn't have appeared on Wednesday the third. Was he originally coming to part one? Coming at short notice, but how short was the notice?
We are left not knowing what exactly Hutton's intention was regarding Mr Green. It was Hutton who decided who he would call to give oral evidence. An FOI request from myself yielded the information that no paper or electronic evidence was provided to the Inquiry by Mr Green despite Mr Green being in the process of carrying out about 50 tests.
As Mr Green's tests were incomplete it was agreed that ACC Page would volunteer information on the results when he, ACC Page, returned for part two. A couple of points: why on earth wouldn't Mr Green be recalled in part two to give the results and allow himself to be cross examined on them. Secondly isn't it amazing that ACC Page, Lord Hutton and Mr Dingemans all find themselves suffering from amnesia 20 days later and fail to remember disclose the findings of Mr Green.
I'm sure that some readers of this blog will be aware by now that there is a big splash in today's "Daily Mail" about the death of Dr David Kelly. Thanks to the enterprise of journalist Miles Goslett this is a meaty article and is headed by a new to the general public piece of information about a helicopter flight in the mid morning of 18th July including a five minute duration landing at Harrowdown Hill. More thoughts on this in another post perhaps.
Unusually for me I bought the paper itself today and was very pleased to see that Page 5 was devoted to the Kelly story. I believe that pages 3 and 5 in a newspaper are highly prized by journalists: as you flick through the paper these are the two pages that your eye tends to alight on first. It demonstrates I think the degree of importance attached to the article by the "Daily Mail" to have used page 5 in this instance.
The "Ten Unanswered Questions" were very diverse and sufficiently compact to attract the reader. All in all a very good presentation.
Major General Michael Laurie is not a name most people are familiar with I imagine but following the publication of a letter from him to the Chilcot Inquiry we are going to hear a fair bit about him in the next few days. This is the story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13371751.
In the run up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 Major General Laurie was a member of the Defence Intelligence Staff. Back in January 2010 Alastair Campbell was vigorously defending the September 2002 dossier at the Chilcot Inquiry: he asserted that the purpose of the dossier was to inform its readers about Iraq's (alleged) weapons of mass destruction and NOT to make the case for war. Michael Laurie sees things very differently: "Alastair Campbell said to the inquiry that the purpose of the dossier was not to "make a case for war," he wrote. "I had no doubt at this time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used."
I made a point of listening to the 6 o'clock on Radio4 this evening and this story took up the first five minutes of the bulletin. The BBC handled it very well I thought. When it comes to a decision as to who to believe, Michael Laurie or Alastair Campbell then surely it has to be the former.
A subject that has received surprisingly little comment is that of Dr Kelly's contacts with Victoria Roddam, a lady who in 2003 was Commissioning Editor for a small publishing house called "Oneworld Publications", their offices being in Oxford.
As I understand things the publisher was interested in publishing a book or a series of books which would have involved Dr Kelly's input to a greater or lesser degree. One email confirms that a meeting had taken place between David Kelly and Victoria Roddam and Novin Doostdar, one of Oneword's co-founders. As with Dr Kelly Mr Doostdar was a Baha'i follower.
Norman Baker writes of this proposed project of Oneworld and there is more to be read here for instance - an article by Jim Rarey.
The first formal email is on 2 April 2003 from Dr Kelly in response to a phone call from Ms Roddam. An email to Dr Kelly dated 10 July, when the Kellys are on the way to Cornwall, includes the sentence 'In light of recent events I think that the time is ripe more than ever for a title which addresses the relationship between government, policy and war - I'm sure you would agree'
On the Hutton website there are copies of the emails sent from Dr Kelly's computer at 11.18 on the morning of 17 July 2003 in response to the enquiries of concerned friends. Whether or not all of them have been captured and put in the public domain I don't know, I don't have any particular reason to think any have been withheld but in the Hutton process anything is possible.
By going to the daily evidence link for the morning of 3rd September we can see who the intended recipients of the emails are although there are still redactions of course. Not all these names are familiar to me but I have every confidence that a commenter will be able to fill in the gaps as to these names!
Normal cutting and pasting doesn't work with these faxed emails so I'll provide links instead.
This is to "Ron Manley", whoever he is he seems to have had some dealings with the media in the past! Ron's email was sent in the early evening of Sunday 13 July when, according to the public narrative Dr Kelly had gone to stay with his daughter Rachel.
Geeta and Roger Kingdon are local Baha'i contacts. A couple of points here to note: Dr Kelly is specific in the email as to the day he is going to Baghdad and also he mentions having had to leave home for a week in order to keep a low profile. Although admitting to having had a tough time these words are certainly not those of a man in despair in my opinion.
Debra Krikorian is a name unfamiliar to me. The chatty nature of her email and his calling her Deb indicates to me two people knowing each other reasonably well. On the first line of Dr Kelly's reply he refers to GKW who I think we can reasonably confidently deduce as being Gabriele Kraatz-Wadsack.
This is the most quoted of the emails ("many dark actors playing games") Judith Miller is, or certainly was, an American journalist on the New York Times. Appear to be long standing friends. Note phrase 'I appreciate your friendship at this time'.
One of the difficulties for me in trying to unravel the mystery of Dr David Kelly's death is getting a real understanding of Dr Kelly's intricate personality. Mrs Kelly, one might assume, would be well placed to help in this regard but is she? This is her response to a question from Mr Dingemans at the Inquiry:
Q. What was the general attitude to his work? Did he believe he could make a difference?
A. He was quite modest about his work. He never boasted. In our many years together he was not a boasting man, he was a very shy, retiring guy and he just felt he could make a small difference. At an international level that really was quite enough for him. He felt that was a good place to be.
So there we have it "a very shy, retiring guy".
In his letter of 30 June 2003 to his line manager Bryan Wells Dr Kelly states he has met Andrew Gilligan. Giving some background on his interaction with the media Dr Kelly includes this paragraph: I have appeared on many British and foreign television programmes including Today, Panorama, Channel 4 News, Newsnight, ABC, CBS sixty minutes, CNN etc and I continue to get requests to do so. Since September 11th I no longer talk to camera about Iraq and rarely on other issues. All media requests are referred to James Paver of the FCO Press Office and most are now discouraged from approaching him by my stating that I doubted that it would be possible.
Add to this the fact that Dr Kelly was well experienced in addressing seminars and it becomes difficult to understand Mrs Kelly's description of him. It is possible I suppose that outside his normal work environment Dr Kelly might have been a little shy although there seems to be little or no evidence to substantiate such an assertion. With his high level of competence and love of his subject once inside his comfort zone of dealing with biological weapons etc then David Kelly seems to have been anything but "a very shy, retiring guy".