DC Coe appeared at the Hutton Inquiry on 16 September whereas he had been scheduled to attend two weeks earlier. At two points in his evidence he indicated that he is was with just one other person on the morning of the 18th July and when he names DC Shields Mr Knox asks him whether it is just the two of them.
This is the relevant exchange:
Q. Where did you then go?
A. We spoke to a witness who lived more or less opposite, who had seen Dr Kelly on the afternoon, the Thursday afternoon, and myself and a colleague went to the area where she had last seen him and made a sort of search towards the river.
Q. And could you be more precise as to where this river is?
A. It is the River Thames. We decided -- from what we were told, since the previous afternoon Dr Kelly was missing we decided to try to find the shortest route to the River Thames.
LORD HUTTON: Do you remember the name of the person who had seen Dr Kelly?
A. Mrs Ruth Absalom, I believe, my Lord.
Q. So did you make a search of the River Thames in that area?
A. We did not get so far as the river.
Q. What happened before you got there?
A. On the route to Harrowdown Hill I met the two people from the volunteer search team, a female and Mr Chapman.
Q. And what did they say to you?
A. Mr Chapman told me that they had found a body in the woods.
Q. Who were you with at this time?
A. Detective Constable Shields.
Q. It is just the two of you?
My last post made it clear that DC Coe hadn't referred to those accompanying him when he made his witness statement. Mr Knox with Coe's police statement in front of him should have realised it was more important than ever to obtain really detailed information from DC Coe to compensate for the marked shortfall in evidence in his statement. Both Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman were absolutely clear in their testimonies a fortnight earlier that there were three police officers.
DC Coe's contrary evidence and the total failure of the Inquiry to resolve the discrepancy was an anomaly that led to a lot of comment. We had to wait almost seven years to get an explanation and this came via Mr Coe's interview in the Mail on Sunday of 8 August 2010. http://www.pressawards.org.uk/userfiles/files/entries-01011-00568.pdf
The article states:
He also confirms the much-disputed existence of a 'third man' with him and his partner DC Colin Shields that morning - a claim he dened at the Hutton Inquiry.
Critics who believe Dr Kelly was murdered have claimed the so-called 'third man' could have been a member of the security services. DC Coe now admits he existed and says he was a trainee officer. But he refuses to name him.
There is further elaboration in the article:
When questioned during the Inquiry, both Mr Chapman and Ms Holmes recalled running into three suited men on the path that morning.
However, when DC Coe was questioned by junior counsel Peter Knox, he insisted just he and his partner, DC Shields, were present.
The discrepancy has fuelled speculation that the mystery man may have been a member of the security services.
DC Coe is now willing to admit the existence of the third man but is unable to provide a plausible explanation for what he told Hutton. He says he does not remember giving that evidence.
He now claims the third man was a police constable who was still on his initial two-year probation period and had been seconded to the CID unit for a month as part of his training. But he refuses to name the officer and says he is no longer with the force.