Matthew Gordon-Banks

The Tragic death of Dr David Kelly

Dr David Kelly was a weapons expert for the British Government. One of his key roles was identifying WMD’s in Iraq.

Three days before he “allegedly” committed suicide the BBC released a story saying that the government was “sexing up” their war with Iraq and Dr Kelly was named as their source. The official explanation for his death is that this left Dr Kelly feeling humiliated, his family stated that “They’ve never seen him so low” in the days before his death.

Dr David Kelly’s body was found a mile away from his home. Just before 3 pm Kelly’s superior, Wing Commander Clark, called him at home and spoke to him for 6–7 minutes. Clark called again at about 3:20 pm; the call was answered by Mrs Kelly who said that Kelly had gone out for a walk as he did every day. He appears to have gone directly to an area of woodlands known as Harrowdown Hill about a mile away from his home where, it is alleged, he ingested up to 29 tablets of painkillers, co-proxamol, an analgesic drug and to have then cut his left wrist with a knife he had owned since his youth. His wife reported him missing shortly after midnight that night, and he was found early the next morning. Questioned on a flight to Hong Kong that day, Blair denied that anyone had been authorised to leak Kelly’s identity.

This led to a public inquiry from Lord Hutton, and the conclusion absolved the Government of any blame – which widely shocked the public. Lord Hutton also requested that the details of the post-mortem examination and toxicology tests be classified for 70 years – to protect the privacy of the Kelly family. But, in October 2010, the government sought to end continuing speculation over Dr Kelly’s death by releasing the reports which backed up Lord Hutton’s verdict.

At the post-mortem examination, he found a series of wounds on Dr Kelly’s left wrist which had “completely severed” the ulnar artery. Dr Hunt reported: “The orientation and arrangement of the wounds over the left wrist are typical of self-inflicted injury.”

One finding claimed that due to Kelly’s heart disease his arteries were “significantly narrowed”. Thus, said experts, less blood loss may have killed the scientist than that needed to kill a healthy man.

A group of doctors has mounted a long-running campaign for the inquest into Dr Kelly’s death to be re-opened, arguing that Lord Hutton’s suicide verdict was unsafe.

They complain that Lord Hutton spent only half a day of his 24-day inquiry considering the cause of death and claim there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dr Kelly killed himself.

“No coroner in the land would have reached a suicide verdict on the evidence which Lord Hutton heard,” they say.

They believe Dr Kelly’s wrist wounds were not likely to be life-threatening, making the official cause of death – a haemorrhage – “extremely unlikely”.

They say unanswered questions surrounding the death remain, including:

Why no fingerprints were found on the knife apparently used to slit his wrist

How Dr Kelly obtained a packet of coproxamol painkillers

Why his blood and stomach contained only a non-toxic dose of the drug

Why he was not spotted by a police helicopter with thermal imaging cameras which flew over the wood where his body was later found

Whether he intended to kill himself

In September last year they petitioned Attorney General Dominic Grieve for the re-opening of inquiries. It “may represent one of the gravest miscarriages of justice to occur in this country”, the doctors said in a letter in March appealing to Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene on their behalf.

But, in June 2011, Mr Grieve rejected the doctors’ petition. He said his department had thoroughly investigated their complaints and could not find any legal basis for referring the case to the High Court, which has the legal authority to order an inquest.

In September 2011, the doctors confirmed they had lodged papers to seek a judicial review of the decision not to hold an inquest into the death of Dr Kelly.

Experts in forensic pathology point out the sceptics may be expert in their own fields, but not in the science of establishing the cause of death.

Hutton has kept silent since his report, breaking it only to write a letter denouncing the conspiracy theorists. Hutton’s conclusion is supported by the available facts and experts: “At no time … was there any suggestion from any counsel for the interested parties or in any of the extensive media coverage that any of the police officers engaged in investigating Dr Kelly’s death or any of the medical or scientific witnesses was involved in any sort of cover-up or plot to make a murder appear like a suicide.”

Meanwhile, I remember where I was at the time; working with a mixture of intelligence officials from all three agencies and some military officers. We were in no doubt our friends across the pond had undertaken a lethal operation.

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