Monday, 28 May 2012

The knife, gaffer tape and Tom Mangold

On 4 July 2010 freelance journalist Tom Mangold, who has described himself as a friend of the late Dr David Kelly, wrote an article in the Independent on Sunday.  Mr Mangold is very much a defender of the suicide hypothesis.

The article attracted a considerable number of comments, some of which were just juvenile name calling, others though were very interesting.  Someone had evidently drawn attention to the lack of fingerprints on the knife because Mr Mangold responded with a comment of his own:

The pruning knife used by David to cut his wrist was covered in gaffer-tape, as are many knives, to prevent the fingers slipping on to the blade and provide a firmer grip. It is almost impossible to retrieve finger prints from this kind of material. For what its worth, I believe that had the government allowed a normal inquest to take place then the fruit-cake theories would never have gained traction.

This was something of a bolt from the blue because there had been no mention of any gaffer-tape at the Hutton Inquiry nor, so far as I was aware, had there been a reference to that effect from anywhere else.

Dr Andrew Watt, author of the "Chilcot's Cheating Us" blog wrote an open letter to Tom Mangold about this

This was Mangold's response:

Thank you for your enquiry.

Ever since the recent publication of the pathologists report and further details confirming beyond all doubt the suicide of David Kelly, I have decided to decline all further involvements of any sort from those who continue to believe in any other theory.

Tom Mangold

I think that might be described as a "non answer"!

Andrew Gilligan repeats the story about the gaffer tape in an article the following month

The absence of fingerprints on the knife may be explained by the fact that the knife handle was reportedly covered in gaffer tape, which does not easily hold fingerprints

To obtain absolute clarity on the matter a Freedom of Information request was made to Thames Valley Police:

The body of Dr David Kelly was discovered on 18th July 2003. Close to the body a knife was found. My FOI request is to be told whether there was any string, tape or any other material attached to the handle of this knife when this knife was examined subsequent to the discovery of Dr Kelly's body.

There were no items or material attached to this knife.

Where then did Mangold get his information about the gaffer-tape?  Does he really know whether gaffer-tape is often attached to a knife handle?  The knife blade was retractable so obviously the tape couldn't go right round the handle.  Gaffer-tape of course is really sticky and I would have thought it very fiddly to apply it to such a small surface and to avoid the slot into which the blade retracts.

Was Mangold making it up?  Foolish surely because nobody had previously mentioned it and a simple FOI request demolished the claim.  Perhaps he was fed a line.

It's an interesting fact that throughout the summer of 2010 and into the autumn there appears to have been a determined effort to rebut the charges of dodgy evidence and cover up, something to discuss later.

The gaffer-tape story really was a bit of nonsense that went well over the top.

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