Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Answering a critic

It's almost six weeks since the start of this blog, over 70 posts and I feel as if I'm only just getting into my stride!  There is an individual though who has made oblique references and criticisms of this blog in another forum on the internet and the purpose of this post is to respond.

Although he writes in somewhat convoluted terms it seems as if my critic is primarily concerned that this is yet another blog examining the forensic evidence relating to Dr Kelly's death and the fact that there is some comment on it about the Kelly family, particularly Mrs Kelly.  He also seems to be content with Hutton's conclusion that David Kelly committed suicide and he seems intent too on persuading folk that there shouldn't now be an inquest.

It is because the proper legal process was, outrageously, bypassed that I and other writers have been blogging about the death.  Hutton wrote to the Attorney General on 3 September 2010 and in an attached report stated: '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'.  My expectation (and surely that of most people) would be an inquiry carried out to full coronial standards but in fact it definitely wasn't carried out to those standards.  

Hutton repeatedly failed to resolve conflicts in evidence and didn't explore issues that he certainly should have done.  He accepted the forensic evidence without question when it was found wanting.  At the time he seemed intent on hiding the fact that the Inquiry was effectively replacing the inquest.  The whole process was just about as bad as it could be.  I shall continue to flag up his failings as the relevant posts are made, certainly they are too many and varied to list here.

My critic, I think, believes that I shouldn't be saying anything about Mrs Kelly.  All I have done is compiled examples of where her testimony on 1 September 2003 didn't fit in with what other witnesses were saying.  These weren't details in the margins but very fundamental differences.  As the spouse of the deceased it is fairly obvious I would think that her testimony is relevant.  I have endeavoured to present my concerns about her testimony using a moderate tone.  As much as anything it's my disgust at Hutton in not resolving the problems that I wanted to emphasise.  In the case of Mrs Kelly as elsewhere I have quoted text or given links so that the reader can come to his or her own conclusion.  Although it's entailed a lot of work I've thought generally in this blog that it was right to quote plenty of text from witnesses and reports, and this also helps to see the context.  Put in another way I think it is more honest to do this than try and paraphrase everything that was said or written.

If there had been a proper inquest in front of an honest and diligent coroner then I, and hopefully most people, would accept the process whatever the verdict.  The Hutton Inquiry is in stark contrast with that of the recent inquest into the death of GCHQ employee Gareth Williams.  There was a narrative verdict by the coroner Dr Wilcox, and the investigation into the death is still live.  The coroner did what she was mandated to do but having completed that process we now have forensic pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd causing even further distress for Gareth's family by reopening the question of how Gareth came to be in that sports bag.  Shame on him! 

A final point: I wanted to make this blog a useful resource, now and in the future, for those concerned about Dr Kelly's mysterious death, a death not yet subjected to the proper legal process.



  1. Hello again Brian -

    I was just wondered why you felt the need to write what was apparently a blatant lie about me earlier on today when I see that you are writing about me here as well.

    For reference:

    Brian Spencer - A troll or a shill? That's an interesting question. As a matter of interest Badger (not that he was "Badger" then) tried to convert me to the "we don't need an inquest" cause back in 2010!

    Obviously you must realise your comment represented the 'coup de grâce' where my banning from the second related Facebook I joined was concerned.

    I've rechecked all my postings on your earlier blog and also yours on mine yet I can't find any record of me ever saying such a thing. I realise we did have a single phone conversation, but for the life of me I cannot recall having said anything about this - we were talking about something else - another possible aspect of the case - then anyway.

    So if you have any record or memory of me saying such a thing I'd please like to be reminded of it.

    I did find that you weren't really willing to engage with me on certain points on the Facebook groups (nor for that matter was anyone else who is intimately involved with the campaign to re-open or have a new inquest for Dr Kelly opened).

    For the record I said on the groups that I personally was not willing to engage about Mrs Kelly's testimony and that the reason for this is because I find this aspect of the overall discussion "outrageous". I stand by my comment and repeat that I believe that they should be removed from those blogs that carry them. "Slightly tasteless", IMO, is something of an understatement. This is not so much because of what is being written 'per se', it is because of what underlies the suggestions being made - in this case that Mrs Kelly was being less than honest (read: lying) when she gave her testimony to Hutton.

    (continues due to character limit here)

  2. (continued)

    My reason for this reaction is because certain blogs are simply not just 'carrying the news', they are attempting to carry out a forensic re-examination of what is now in the public domain regarding the Kelly case, yet they are frequently second-guessing from what is clearly recognisable as certainly limited information to begin with. I think that some writers forget that what they write is easily discoverable by means of a simple Google search, and that these are real living people they are writing about with their own Human Rights (Article 8 – Everyone has the right to respect for his/her private and family etc). Whereas the closed Facebook group (the first I got banned from) is essentially private and cannot be read by non-members, blogspot sites can be read by anyone.

    As you will recall we had very polite discussions at the beginning of your first blog site (the 'Suicide or Murder' one). After a short time you seemed to move away from the neutral and objective position you began with, and soon adopted the belief that Dr Kelly had been murdered. At that point I gave up posting there because this stance does not coincide with my own views on the matter.

    Towards the end of the above post you state: “If there had been a proper inquest in front of an honest and diligent coroner then I, and hopefully most people, would accept the process whatever the verdict.”

    Yet there was a ‘proper’ inquest process put into train from the very outset. What happened in between is open to discussion, but the same individual Coroner was involved throughout the process and decided in 2004 to not reopen the case. In simply writing what you have here you are challenging the professionalism of Nicolas Gardiner. Whilst he has already rebutted your (and others) accusations in the Oxford Mail back at the end of February you persist in making these claims.

    ‘Time for the Truth’? Yes, I agree with you on this one. But we won’t find it the expense of all common sense. Just looking back at all the evidence from early 2004 will not move us forwards here, much has come to light since then and some of this is being (willfully?) ignored, perhaps by those who have set themselves up on pedestals and fear the return journey downwards.

  3. Hello Andrew (sounds much better than "Badger"!)

    No I did not tell a blatant lie. It is quite correct that the matter didn't arise in comments on our respective blogs but it most certainly did in that one telephone conversation we had. I hope that you will be man enough to remove the slur from my character.

    Perhaps you would explain (if you can) the discrepancies between what Mrs Kelly told the Inquiry and the evidence of other witnesses. As I explained in my post I was actually quoting what people were saying and already in the public domain (hope that's not illegal) Readers have to make up their own minds on what they read. I was pointing out there were difficulties with Mrs Kelly's evidence, problems Hutton simply ignored.

    It's latish in the evening now so don't feel inclined to continue this conversation tonight.

  4. Brian -

    I hope you understand that I don't mean to disrespect you personally but I still do not recall that aspect of our conversation. Do you have the call recorded? If you don't then I suggest we have a dispute over contextual interpretation of what was said back then. I seem to recall we were discussing other avenues of enquiry which would not have been a matter to be investigated at an inquest.

    No - sorry - I don't want to discuss Mrs Kelly at all - so I don't want to be drawn into this here. I am far more interested in looking at the consequences of the bigger picture rather than micro-examining small elements of the case in individualistic detail.

    If you want to discuss any of the wider issues such as perceived reasons for believing that he was murdered or even some of the more recent evidence such as reports about his heart condition or the fact that there was no reason to suggest that he could have further damaged the government's case against Iraq that's fine by me. Otherwise we probably don't have much to discuss.

    I quite understand that this debate already takes up far too much time of our lives in any case - so I also quite understand the desire not to discuss this both day-and-night.

    I'm happy to discuss and debate if you wish to do so - but I also see that we hold fairly polar positions. I'll leave it for you to decide.

  5. Andrew, I consider that you did mean to disrespect me personally, that's very clear to me. I don't have the call recorded but am absolutely certain about my recall of that aspect of our conversation.

    For the benefit of the reader I should point out that your dismissal from two facebook groups relating to Dr Kelly were carried out by two different moderators, neither of whom was me. You made the point that you had difficulty getting people to engage with you on them. I can't speak for others in the groups obviously but my own feeling is that you had an attitude problem.

    I know that you are more interested in the so called big picture and that you have a particular fascination with the "Mr Toad" piece that was in the Guardian. In fact, at the end of our phone conversation, you suggested that looking at that was the way I perhaps should go instead of pursuing my then arguments.

    The 'small elements of the case' that you refer to are I appreciate something that you don't want to discuss. As you know I want to give the fullest detail in this blog and sometimes it is the "small elements" that illustrate so well the deceit that was the Hutton Inquiry and why the proper legal process of a new inquest is required.

    Yes we do hold polar positions in the Dr Kelly debate and for the sake of our blood pressures suggest that from now we don't engage in any further debate. Thank you.

  6. Brian, where did you find this idiot? (andrewsimon)
    Does he really think that Mrs Kelly's rights under Article 8 of Human Rights Act have in any way been violated by your blog?
    When Mrs Kelly appeared as a witness via a video link at the Hutton Inquiry she was afforded a level of privacy above and beyond what she was entitled to and yet in several areas of this case her testimony was very much at odds with all other evidence.
    It is therefore of no surprise that her role as a "reliable witness" has been called into question.
    Had proceedings at the Hutton Inquiry been subject to the rules of a proper inquest then Mrs Kelly could well have found herself charged with perjury.
    So I suggest Mr andrewsimon or whatever his name is forgets alleged breeches of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights by members of the public and looks more closely at the way in which those who claim to run this country have breeched Section 13 and 17 of the 1988 Coroners Act.


  7. Frank

    I agree with what you say.

    I've read again my posts that specifically deal with my concerns about the testimony of Mrs Kelly when this is compared with other witness evidence. Had I been inaccurate in any way? Had I misrepresented what Mrs Kelly said perhaps? I see absolutely nothing wrong in the way I have looked at her testimony.

    So why is "Andrew Simon" so outraged? His argument is ridiculous in my opinion. He could have challenged my posts at the time they were made. He didn't. In my first response to AS I suggested that he explain the discrepancies between Mrs Kelly's testimony and what other witnesses were saying. Unsurprisingly he refused to do this.

    What AS had done was make snide remarks about this and other blogs on a facebook page, not naming this blog you understand but as can be seen from his comment he certainly had me in his sights.

    On facebook he used the name "Badger Willows" but I quite quickly realised it was Andrew Simon, a commenter I had spoken to on the phone when I was writing my earlier Dr Kelly blog. The fact that he was dismissed by two different moderators from two facebook groups says it all really I would suggest.

    I certainly don't think that I should be immune from criticism ... providing it's sensible and constructive. But when someone uses the words "apparently a blatant lie about me" in response to a remark I had made on facebook then of course I have to respond. He then had the cheek to say "I don't mean to disrespect you personally". I'm afraid that I'm not prepared to further engage with that sort of person.

  8. Inded Frank, it's the biggest load of balls I have read for a long while.
    It is also worth pointing out the quite unprecedented timeline:
    Friday July 18 2003:: Dr Kelly found dead. James Dingemans QC appointed [Lee Hughes,2004]
    Monday July 21 2003: Statement by Lord Hutton that he has been appointed to lead the inquiry. He also says: "In deciding on the date when I will sit I will obviously wish to take into account the date of Dr Kelly''s funeral and the timing of the inquest into his death." (er, what inquest?)
    Tuesday July 22 2003: Chief Constable Peter Neyroud has a cosy meeting with Lord Hutton in the House of Lords.
    Thursday July 24 2003: Press notice issued by secretary to the Inquiry, Lee Hughes.
    Saturday July 26 2003: Lord Hutton and James Dingemans QC drop by in Southmoor to have a one hour chat with Mrs Kelly.
    Friday August 1 Lord Hutton Opens his inquiry. He states: "Mrs Kelly, Dr Kelly's widow, has told me that she is willing to give evidence to the Inquiry. I am most grateful to her for agreeing to do this, and I will ask her to give her evidence at some stage in the Inquiry"
    Wednesday August 6 Lord Hutton and Mr Dingemans QC return to Oxfordshire to attend the funeral of Dr Kelly. Somewhat perplexingly, on July 28, in Press Notice HI 02 there appeared: "However as the funeral will not take place for some time, Mrs Kelly has told Lord Hutton that she would have no objection to a preliminary sitting of the Inquiry before the funeral". Some time being, actually...pretty quickly, within 9 days, and almost certainly arranged before July 28.

    As you say, Frank, the audio link (not a real video link) used by Mrs Kelly & daughter did indeed give an advantage over other witness, since Lee Hughes told Parliament in October 2004: Parties to the Inquiry were keen that witnesses should be able to consult their legal advisers whilst giving evidence. Lord Hutton felt that this was unnecessary as counsel to the Inquiry would be examining witnesses in a neutral way.

    I should add that it was the unusual reaction of the family to the proceedings which initially drew me to this case some years ago and made me dig a bit deeper into the evidence, which on closer inspection, turned out to be a pile of ordure. We have to be our own press these days, and generally we don't have time ourselves to do the job which the scum of the MSM ought to be doing.

  9. Yes, it is a very good point about Mrs Kelly (and Rachel) using an audio link. Hutton was later to spout nonsense suggesting that, if anything, his Inquiry was better than an inquest. Obviously it would be uncomfortable for Mrs Kelly to be visible when giving her evidence ... as indeed it is for thousands of other spouses and partners attending inquests.

    Hutton's assertion in 2010 that his Inquiry carried out the functions of an inquest is risible and this is a subject I will return to later.