Wednesday, 9 May 2012

There was no need for the Hutton Inquiry

A body, believed to be that of the missing government scientist Dr David Kelly, was discovered by Brock the search dog owned by Louise Holmes at about 9.15 on the morning of Friday 18 July 2003.  Louise was accompanied by another volunteer searcher Paul Chapman who attempted to phone their controller but as that phone was set to answerphone Paul had to resort to dialling 999 from his mobile.  The 999 call was received at Abingdon police station at 9.20.

The preceding and subsequent events to the discovery of the body will be discussed in later posts but suffice to say at the moment that the forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt arrived at Harrowdown Hill where the body was found at about midday, shortly followed by the chief investigating officer from Thames Valley Police DCI Alan Young.

Dr Hunt confirmed the fact of death at 12.35 but then withdrew from the scene because a decision had been made to call for a forensic biologist, Mr Roy Green.  It seems that the thinking was that it would be better to await the arrival of Mr Green before Dr Hunt proceeded with his examination of the body.  It was about one and a half hours later, at 2.10, that Dr Hunt, Mr Green and Mr Green's assistant Dr Eileen Hickey began their examination of the body and the surrounding area.

It can be seen that there was a delay of approximately five hours from the finding of the body to the start of the forensic examination.  In that five hour period Tony Blair, en route by plane from Washington to Tokyo, had agreed with former flat mate Lord Falconer that there should be a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly.  Charles Falconer, at that time, was Secretary of State for the Department of Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor.

A person goes missing from his home, about eighteen hours later his body is found about two miles away.  Under the suspicious and unexplained circumstances appertaining in this case one would obviously expect a thorough police investigation and also for the coroner to be informed.  But with no obvious explanation as to the cause of death, whether it is a case of suicide or murder for example, why have a judicial inquiry.  Whilst Mr Blair and Lord Falconer were agreeing that there should be a judicial inquiry into the death the only real evidence that the police had was a dead body, believed to be that of David Kelly, a relatively small amount of blood in the vicinity and an open knife close by with blood on it.  

Dr Kelly it is true had been under the spotlight the previous Tuesday in a televised session of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.  There was a public perception, aided by careful editing of his FAC appearance on subsequent news bulletins, of a man driven over the edge by the way his name as a mole had been revealed and that he had been mercilessly harangued by certain members of the FAC.  Yet careful examination of the totality of the facts fails to support this hypothesis.   Publicly, on the day that the body was discovered, Thames Valley Police were treating the death as "unexplained".  There was no possible justification for an inquiry at that time.  

Let us suppose there had been a thorough, honest investigation by TVP and the coroner had completed his inquest in the normal manner.  And let us suppose that he (or a jury if called) had returned a verdict of suicide then at that point there may well have been reason to set up an inquiry.  In fact public clamour might well have made an inquiry at that juncture inevitable.

I say again: there was absolutely no legitimate reason to set up an inquiry on the morning of 18 July, the morning that the body was discovered, and at a time when it should have been impossible to know how Dr Kelly died.     

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