According to the official narrative the last person to see Dr Kelly alive was a near neighbour Ms Ruth Absalom. As her testimony is quite brief I think I can do no better than quote it in totality before making any comments:
Tuesday, 2nd September 2003
MS RUTH ABSALOM (called)
Examined by MR DINGEMANS
LORD HUTTON: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Mr Dingemans, I understand Ms Absalom is going to give evidence on the video link. Good morning Ms Absalom. Thank you very much for agreeing to give evidence to this Inquiry. I will ask Mr Dingemans, the senior counsel, to take you through your evidence.
MR DINGEMANS: Ms Absalom, can you hear me?
Q. Where are you at the moment?
A. Where am I? Sorry.
Q. You are in Oxford, are you? What village do you live in?
Q. Did you know Dr Kelly?
Q. How long had you known him for?
A. Well, from the time he came into the village, I suppose. I do not know how long that was, but a good many years -- several years.
Q. What were you doing on 17th July? Do you remember the 17th July?
A. Is that the day I met David?
A. Just walking the dog.
Q. And how far is your house from Dr Kelly's house?
A. The width of a road, a main road. I do not know how many yards.
Q. How many minutes walk?
A. A couple.
Q. A couple of minutes walk.
Q. On 17th July, what time did you walk your dog?
A. Well, I usually go about 3 but I went earlier that day, I suppose about quarter past 2.
Q. Quarter past 2?
Q. Did you see anyone while you were walking the dog?
A. Not until I met Dr Kelly.
Q. And when did you meet Dr Kelly? What time was that?
A. Round about 3 o'clock. I could not tell you for sure, I did not bother to look at my watch but I was taking the dog for a walk and --
Q. Where did you meet him?
A. The top of Harris's Lane, which is in Longworth, the next village. It is about -- roughly about a mile from
Q. How far from his home is that?
A. Well, he is only a matter of yards across the road from me.
Q. So about just under a mile from his home; is that right?
Q. How was he dressed?
A. Normally. I did not take that much notice.
Q. Do you remember whether he was wearing a jacket or ...?
A. Well, he had obviously got a jacket on but whether it was a suit or an odd jacket and odd trousers I have no idea. We just stopped, said hello, had a chat about nothing in particular --
Q. What did you say to him?
A. He said, "Hello Ruth" and I said, "Oh hello David, how are things?" He said, "Not too bad". We stood there for a few minutes then Buster, my dog, was pulling on the lead, he wanted to get going. I said, "I will have to go, David". He said, "See you again then, Ruth" and that was it, we parted.
Q. How did he seem to you?
A. Just his normal self, no different to any other time when I have met him.
Q. Did you see whether he was carrying anything?
A. No, I do not think he was.
Q. And do you remember how long you spoke to him for?
A. Five minutes at the most.
Q. And did you see what direction he left in?
A. Well, he was going for his walk. I suppose he went to my right, along the road towards Kingston Bagpuize I suppose in the end, if he had gone round that way, but obviously he was going down to the fields down the road or down to the fields down the back.
Q. Was that the last time you saw Dr Kelly?
Q. And is there anything else surrounding the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death that you can help his Lordship with?
A. None whatsoever. I am sorry, I wish I could, but that is all I can tell you. I met him at the top of the road there and we had a few minutes' chat and then Buster was pulling his lead and David said, well, he said, "I must get going" and that was it. We parted and he said, "Cheerio Ruth", I said "Bye David". That was it.
LORD HUTTON: Thanks very much indeed for giving your evidence. That is very helpful.
A. All right.
LORD HUTTON: Now would you like me to rise?
MR DINGEMANS: Just for a few minutes, my Lord.
One question that has been raised in the past is "Why didn't Ms Absalom go up to London to give evidence?". I don't have a problem with an elderly lady whose evidence was only five minutes long being spared that trip. It seems that communication was via a two way video link which is in contrast with Mrs Kelly and Rachel giving their evidence by audio link the previous day.
Initially, and I would suggest unsurprisingly, she appeared to be a little disorientated. I assume that she was whisked off to Oxford by police car and was speaking from inside a building she had never visited. Add to this that presumably it was the first occasion in which she had talked over a video link.
The next witness was Dr Kelly's GP Dr Warner and there might be an argument that he could have given Ruth Absalom a lift. It seems to me that early morning witnesses would have been provided with accommodation the previous night in London and that I suspect happened with Dr Warner.
If anything Dr Warner's testimony, to be considered later, was even briefer. Perhaps, as a person giving medical evidence, it was thought that he had to appear in person. I make this point because otherwise it seems something of an anomaly for Ms Absalom to go to Oxford while Dr Warner traipsed up to London.
More thoughts on Ms Absalom's testimony to come.