In Annex TVP - 1 civil servant Kevin McGinty attempts to square the circle between DC Coe's failure to disclose the presence of the third man on 16 September 2003 and his subsequent admittance of that person being with him in an interview published on 8 August 2010, by which time Mr Coe had retired from the police force. http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/Publications/Documents/Annex%20TVP%201.pdf
TVP - 1 includes extracts from the evidence given by the two searchers and by DC Coe both at the Inquiry and in their written police statements. I'm not going to repeat all that again as I think I have dealt with it fairly thoroughly already. It's Mr McGinty's explanation that I am going to focus on now. I shall record his commentary from the annex and append my own thoughts in blue.
Dc Coe was the first police officer on the scene. He provided a witness statement and gave oral evidence at the inquiry.
Concerns were raised following a Mail on Sunday article in which he stated that he had been accompanied by two officers when his evidence at the Inquiry was that he had only been with one other officer. Further doubt was cast on his account when the words of Paul Chapman and Louise Holmes, the two civilian search officers, were examined in detail and implied that Dc Coe and several other officers all went to the scene of the body. This is incorrect.
There now follows extracts from the written statements and oral evidence of DC Coe, Paul Chapman and Louise Holmes. Then:
Dc Coe was interviewed on 25th August 2010 in response to the Mail story.
He stated that on the 18th July 2003 he was on duty with Dc Colin Shields and a probationer attachment, Pc A. (Pc A has now left the Police and FOI requests for his identity have been refused under Sect. 40.)
They spoke to the witness Ruth Absalom who was the last person to see Dr. Kelly alive as he went on his walk. Having spoken to her they decided to head down towards the river in case he had gone that way.
This last sentence by McGinty doesn't explain why they elected to head down towards the river. Their interaction that morning with Ms Absalom will be the subject of another post from me.
As the officers went towards the river they came across the two civilian searchers (Paul Chapman & Louise Holmes) who had found the body and radioed for help. This was a chance occurrence. At this time they were at the foot of Harrowdown Hill, a considerable distance from the body location.
Dc Coe went with Paul Chapman leaving Dc Shields and Pc A and Louise Holmes behind. Dc Shields and Pc A did not go to the scene at all and did not see the body.
The whole question of where the searchers met the police officers and who went with Paul Chapman to see the body is a very important one to resolve and I will post separately on this. Suffice to say that I do NOT believe what Mr McGinty has written.
Once Paul Chapman had shown Dc Coe the body he returned to the bottom of the track where Dc Coe thinks that either Pc A or Dc Shields took the search team to the Police Station to make their statements. Dc Coe stayed with the body until the arrival of the ambulance team and other officers.
A FoI request response states that a report by Thames Valley Police was submitted to the Attorney General on 9 May 2011. It's authorship has not been disclosed but it was approved on behalf of the police force by ACC Helen Ball. The date of 9 May is exactly one month before the Attorney General stated that he wouldn't go forward to seek a new inquest. Previously unrevealed comments by DC Coe for instance would presumably have been recorded in this document. I would have thought that it would have been better to have actually checked who took the searchers to Abingdon rather than rely on what DC Coe thought. The Coe comment does of course distance his two companions from the body. The two searchers were still at Harrowdown Hill at 10.30 because ambulanceman Dave Bartlett says he checked Ms Holmes over to see if she was all right.
The inaccuracies were put to Dc Coe regarding the number of officers who were with him and said that this could not be right. He agreed and said that Pc A's presence had not come to his mind when he gave his oral evidence.
Experienced Detectives are often accompanied by trainees or others who are temporarily attached to them. It is perhaps not surprising that since Pc A did not attend the scene or play any major part in the events that morning his presence was forgotten by Dc Coe.
' Pc A did not attend the scene or play any major part in the events that morning'. But DC Shields didn't attend the scene either and there's no evidence of him playing any major part in the events that morning.
In a similar vein to the alleged moving of the body one must consider a common sense view with regard to this issue. What possible purpose would Dc Coe have in deliberately lying to the Hutton Inquiry about the presence of a third officer It is common ground that Dc Coe was the only police officer taken anywhere near the scene. Dc Coe's evidence to the Hutton Inquiry was factually incorrect but it would appear to have been a lapse in memory rather than an intention to mislead.
Mr McGinty's comparison with the alleged moving of the body is an unfortunate one for him as it will be demonstrated later that there is very solid evidence of the body being moved. It is not common ground that DC Coe was the only police officer taken anywhere near the scene as I shall be discussing.