Saturday, 5 May 2012

Collating a few facts about David Kelly

The aim of this post is to assemble some biographical facts about David Christopher Kelly, to get a bit of sense of Kelly the person.

David Kelly was born on 14 May 1943 in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales.  According to journalist Tom Mangold he was very proud of his country of birth and liked to be called Dai.  Although there is plenty of reason to criticise Mangold in what he has said about Dr Kelly's death I suspect that this particular observation is correct.

Norman Baker has sketched Kelly's childhood well, telling us that his father was the son of a coal miner and that he was a signals officer in the RAF.  His mother, who was the daughter of a gravestone sculptor, was a schoolteacher.  His parents, who had married in Pontypridd shortly after Christmas in 1940, moved after a time to Tunbridge Wells in Kent.  Within two years of this move the couple had separated and David went back to Pontypridd to live with his mother and grandmother.  He was an only child.

Almost immediately after the divorce was made official David's father married Flora Dunn, a woman ten years younger than him.  The couple had three children of their own and adopted a fourth.  Mr Kelly became head teacher at a school ... he was die of lung cancer aged 66.  It seems that David didn't ever live with them.

Interestingly, there is a common thread of teaching here: his mother was a teacher, his father became one, he married Janice Vawdrey who taught and it's clear that David Kelly himself was very keen to impart some of his very considerable knowledge to colleagues and to demystify various complexities to the media.

The young Kelly then wasn't blessed with the best home life but nevertheless excelled at school.  Academically he was gifted enough to go on to University, first Leeds, then Birmingham for a second degree before studying at Oxford for his PhD.  Mr Baker also mentions that he had become head boy at his Grammar School and was a good athlete.  Certainly he appears to have had a passion for sport, parts of his diaries are on the "evidence" tab of the Hutton website and it can be seen that he had noted upcoming sporting events, some of these occurring in the months after his death. 

Romance blossomed when he was at Leeds University, on Saturday 15 July 1967 he married Janice near her Crewe family home.  He was 23, she a year younger.  They were to have three daughters, Sian and twins Ellen and Rachel.  At the time of Dr Kelly's death Sian was 32, the twins 30.  Dr Kelly was last seen alive two days after his 36th wedding anniversary.

For many years the Kelly's lived a comfortable middle class life in their spacious home in the village of Southmoor in Oxfordshire.  As demand for his expertise increased Dr Kelly would be spending more time away from his home.  He was much travelled spending time on inspections in Russia and making more than 35 visits to Iraq as an Inspector after the first Gulf War.  Another port of call was New York for UN meetings.  He seems to have visited other parts of America, Geneva and other countries as well.

Very much in contrast to this jetting to various parts of the World was his lifestyle back at Southmoor.  An enthusiastic gardener he grew vegetables and kept the grass in check in the paddock.  He rode a horse (whether his own or not I don't know)  but he had a riding accident in I think late 1991 because of a saddle that moved, resulting in an elbow injury.  This injury, as will be discussed later, had important implications regarding the suicide hypothesis.  If it is true, and I believe it is, that he had residual weakness in his right arm then it's possible that he didn't regularly ride after that mishap.

He enjoyed the traditional pub game of cribbage at the Hinds Head, a pub in the adjoining village of Kingston Bagpuize.  There was evidently a cribbage league because we have learnt that David, who drank little or no alcohol, would drive players to the various away venues.  It seems that he gave up alcohol when he was introduced to the Baha'i faith.

Not well known I think is the fact that David Kelly enjoyed music to the extent, I seem to recall from a press report, of playing the saxophone.  He also had a substantial collection of CDs and another press report says that these (800!) were left in his will to his friend Professor Christian Seelos.  Austrian born Seelos is another interesting character: he says 'Music became a passion and I played in several rock bands'  The fact that the CDs were left to Seelos rather than anyone in the family does beg the question of whether they shared his musical taste.

A time line showing the history of Dr Kelly's employment in the government can be read here:      

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