Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mrs Kelly's dubious testimony (1)

In arriving at a conclusion as to whether or not Dr Kelly committed suicide it is I think fairly self evident that the testimony from his wife would be of critical importance.  On Monday 1 September 2003 Mrs Kelly was questioned for 65 minutes by senior counsel James Dingemans.  At an inquest the bereaved spouse would undoubtedly have been visible to the coroner and all in the courtroom; not so with Mrs Kelly (nor incidentally with her daughter Rachel who also gave evidence), she was allowed to give evidence by audio link although perversely she could see Mr Dingemans.  Yet we have Hutton, in the attachment to his letter of 3 September 2010 to the Attorney General, saying:

Under section 17A of the Coroner's Act 1988 the public inquiry took the place of an inquest and carried out the functions of an inquest.

On 1 August, following Hutton's opening statement at the Inquiry, Geoffrey Robertson QC made a submission on behalf of two TV companies: ITN and Sky.  They wished to have some of the witness evidence televised.  In his submission Mr Robertson stated:

My submission is that it is important not that the public should read every word of evidence but they should hear the tone of voice in which that evidence is delivered, see the body language and demeanour of the witness who is speaking it, because very often, as one knows, tone of voice, demeanour and so on may give a very different impact and truth to a particular utterance, and very often it alters it considerably. In order to appreciate evidence, as your Lordship knows, the Court of Appeal are always saying: well, the trial judge saw the witnesses.
Although Hutton dismissed the application Mr Robertson makes an excellent point about being able to observe body language and demeanour.

I am not suggesting that Mrs Kelly was reading from a script for instance in giving her responses, the point is that we don't know.  For such a key witness it would be imperative that she was visible anyway.

A story that Mrs Kelly might give evidence by video link to avoid travelling to London appeared in the Daily Mail during the preceding week /Kellys-widow-testify-video-link.html  Although she wasn't visible to those in the courtroom there was contemporary news footage of Mrs Kelly, Rachel and Rachel's fiance David Wilkins approaching the building.

Mrs Kelly's testimony confirms that her husband was going to be named on the evening of 9 July as the mole who, in part at least, was the informant in Andrew Gilligan's controversial broadcast on Radio 4 on 29 May 2003.

Sunday Times journalist Nick Rufford visited Dr Kelly at about 7.30 on the evening of the 9th and we are told had a conversation at the garden gate.  This is the relevant exchange between Mr Dingemans and Mrs Kelly:

Q. And did you speak with Dr Kelly after the conversation?
A. Yes, I did. He came over to me and said that Nick had said that Murdoch had offered hotel accommodation for both of us away from the media spotlight in return for
an article by David. He, David, was to be named that night and that the press were on their way in droves. That was the language David used, I am not sure Nick used that. 

Events subsequent to the Rufford conversation went like this according to Mrs Kelly:

Q. Having heard that the press were on their way in droves, what did you do?
A. We hovered a bit. I said I knew a house that was available to us, if we needed it, down in the south-west of England, and he did not pick up on that initially.
Q. Did you remind him of that?
A. Yes, I did. The phone rang inside the house and he went in to answer it, came out and he said: I think we will be needing that house after all. The MoD press office have just rung to say we ought to leave the house and quickly so that we would not be followed by the press.
Q. So the phone call was from the Ministry of Defence?
A. It was the Ministry of Defence press office.
Q. And they said you ought to leave?
A. Yes. Whether he had offered anything else in the
interim I do not know, that was never mentioned. 
Q. Right. But you decided to go down to this place that you knew --
A. Indeed. We immediately went into the house and packed and within about 10 minutes we had left the house.

This is obviously quite a dramatic turn of events but is what Mrs Kelly described true?  There is some support for Mrs Kelly's story, particularly from Rachel.  But, as will be seen in my following posts, the panicked flight from the Kelly home and subsequent events would mean that the evidence from the following witnesses is well nigh certainly incorrect: email evidence from Steve Ward, oral evidence from Nick Rufford, Rod Godfrey and Roger Avery.

Hutton resolutely failed to resolve the conflicts in evidence, in the case of Rod Godfrey the latter even pointed out to Hutton that Dr Kelly couldn't in effect be in two places at once.  He might just as well have saved his breath.

The following posts will look at the problems of Mrs Kelly's testimony in the light of other people's evidence.  

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